(CARLSBAD, CA) – Anger. It’s not a “bad” emotion. In fact, feeling angry is a perfectly normal part of being human. But when you don’t deal with your anger in a healthy way, it can quickly become destructive.
Your body actually experiences physical changes when you get angry. The sympathetic branch of your body’s autonomic nervous system kicks into high gear. Your brain stimulates the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands flood your body’s bloodstream with adrenaline. Blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, pupils dilate, jaws tighten, muscles tense, and breathing rate becomes more rapid. Even if you tend to suppress your anger, your body knows that you feel agitated, and it responds accordingly. Keeping your feelings bottled up can lead to stomachaches and headaches.
Failing to deal with your anger in a healthy manner can lead to much more than a few aches and pains, however. Researchers at the University of Medicine of New Jersey in Newark learned that chronic anger is linked to lung deterioration and high blood pressure. Another study at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center links anger to a lifetime of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Learning to deal with your anger can save your health and your relationships. Consider some of these steps the next time your emotional heat rises:
- Identify your primary emotion. Think about why you are angry. Are you feeling frustrated, hurt, or disrespected? Go to the source of the problem and fix that, rather than just dealing with your short fuse.
- Watch your physical responses to a situation. If you are pointing a finger or raising your voice, then take a physical step back. Excuse yourself and walk away.
- Take some deep breaths. Try diaphragmatic breathing. Put your hands on your abdomen and empty all of the air from your lungs, so that your stomach contracts inward. Take a deep breath, filling your belly with air, allowing it to expand. Repeat for ten breaths.
- Start an exercise program. Even walking around the block or washing your car can release tension. Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise, Inc., suggests engaging in some type of physical activity for 30-60 minutes on most days of the week. Find something that you enjoy, so that you’ll stick with it.
- Take some down time before addressing the situation. It can take a few hours for the adrenaline released into your bloodstream to metabolize. Wait for your anger to subside before you approach the difficult situation.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.