Almost every evening on the news there is a report about uncontrolled anger ruining lives. Road rage incidents, school bullying, workplace' school shootings and other violent crimes are common place. Though some of these are organized by criminal organizations, many of them are caused because of people who cannot control their anger.
Very few people can completely eliminate anger in their life. Sometimes it can be helpful in signaling to others that important needs are not being met. So in small amounts, anger can actually be a helpful emotion to express those needs and to solve problems.
But this emotion can be very destructive when it is not controlled. It can cause a great deal of misery not only for the recipient of a person's anger but for the angry person as well. It can damage relationships both personally and in a working environment. It also can cause or contribute to many illnesses.
If a person cannot control anger, the fight-or-flight response kicks in with a release of adrenalin and an increase in muscle tension. Muscles tighten when you are angry to help you fight or run. In other words, you get "up tight". When the muscles in your neck, jaw, shoulders and back tighten up, it can cause soreness or pain in the muscles and skeletal system.
When the fight-or-flight response activates, your heart beats faster and your blood pressure elevates. This increases the risk for developing coronary heart disease. In addition, your liver releases more fat into your blood and your blood cells become "sticky". These are normal reactions to protect you - the stickiness in the blood cells is to protect you from bleeding out in case of an injury. The fat is released to give more energy for the muscles to burn. But all of these reactions increase the risk of your having a stroke or heart attack.
Digestive and breathing problems can also occur. Stomach and gastrointestinal problems such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), acid reflux,and nausea can occur when long held anger turns inward. Throat constriction, shallow breathing and the feeling of having heaviness in the chest can happen as respiration speeds up in order to send blood to the muscles and brain.
Besides these negative health issues, anger can cause you to just not feel good. You may feel edgy and have very little energy. Many of my clients complain that they just "can't relax" or "don't know how to relax". So what can you do to manage your anger? If you feel like you are angry more often or all the time, it's time to seek professional help. Ask your medical doctor or find an anger-management expert through the American Psychological Association.
If you do not think you are at that level of need but would like some tools to control your anger, there are some simple techniques you might try. Step outside yourself and try to view a situation that makes you angry from a distance. Evaluate how high your anger is by picturing a yardstick and imagining an arrow pointing at the number you are at then consciously begin to drop the number. Deep breathing down into the abdominal cavity and exhaling slowly can help you to feel more calm and safe. As you breathe in think "I am", and as you exhale, think "relaxed". Imagine blowing the anger out as you exhale. Muscle relaxation will help you relax. Practicing deep breathing and muscle relaxation strengthens your control.
Clinical hypnotherapy can be a great tool to control anger by working to deal with the underlying issues and helping to work with the techniques described above. Control your anger and BE WELL.