While anger is a normal emotion and even healthy, when it gets out of control and simply eats you up from within it can negatively impact your health, including your blood pressure. While it is not so easy to control anger after a bad day at work, an argument with your spouse about finances, and then stepping in dog crap, it is important to manage it.
Uncontrolled anger is one of the many signs of stress, which, according to the American Heart Association, causes temporary blood pressure spikes and other health issues. Remember your good old “fight or flight” stress hormone that kicks in when you get stressed?
So, What is the connection between high blood pressure and anger?
Well, when you are expressing your anger by yelling and cursing or even speeding behind the driver who just cut you off on your way home from work, your “fight” mechanisms are in full gear. Your heart beats faster and your blood vessels constrict. Eventually your body will return to normal and regulate itself, unless you react this way often. If yes, it’s time to take a new approach to anger – get positive.
Here are Mayo Clinic’s and WebMD’s Tips on Managing Anger
1) Take a break
When you feel yourself overcome with anger, just stop for a moment and breathe. Step away from the situation. Counting to 10 can help you relax and get control of your anger. Some people find repeating a calming phrase helps like “it’s not worth getting heated up” , “tomorrow is another day”, “it’s just work” or “it’s just words”. Sometimes taking a break from a person who you believe causes you to feel angry will help or maybe it’s time for a work vacation.
2) Think first, react later
Once you feel calmer and your body has relaxed, think about what happened. It’s important to give yourself and other people involved time to think things over. Maybe place yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their actions. You want to avoid acting in the heat of the moment, because you are likely to say something that could easily make the situation worse, and further increase your stress.
3) Speak through your feelings
Reach out to a friend or someone who you can easily speak with, and share how you feel with them. By speaking about how you feel with an objective friend you may discover that it releases the anger.
4) Speak with those that anger you
Once you are thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive, but non confrontational manner. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them. Avoid placing blame and criticizing the other person. Speaking in the “I” in stead of “you” helps with avoiding defensive reactions and opens the opportunity for open and positive dialogue. For instance say, “I feel upset that the house is always a mess when I get home” instead of “you never clean”.
5) Be an active listener
When you are ready to talk about your anger, it is worthless if you do not truly listen or listen actively to what is being said and not said. According to WebMD, “listening can help improve communication and can facilitate trusting feelings between people. This trust can help you deal with potentially hostile emotions.” If you are rusty in this department, then exercise your listening skills.
6) Think about possible solutions
It is important to be in the moment and think about what you can do now to prevent these situations. The best way to achieve this is to think about solutions to the problem instead of the problem, which occurred already. Does your partner hate to wash the dishes? Then agree to wash the dishes and your partner can agree to do something else. There are many house chores to negotiate with. Does your friend forget to call you? Then you call or discuss it with your friend to understand why. Whenever you are battling with yourself over such things, just remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything, and it might only make it worse.
By allowing anger and other negative feelings to flood your head and body, you will become bitter and increase your stress levels. Forgiving people who anger you releases you of all the negative and unhealthy tension. You will feel free and calm. According to Mayo Clinic and leading psychologists, “It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.”
By laughing at yourself and the situation, you will reduce the tension. Laughter is a great way to feel good and lighten things up. Avoid sarcasm, especially after a tense situation, because it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
All types of physical activity – moderate to intense – can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. Go for a walk, run or bike when you are tense and angry, and especially if it escalates. “Physical activity, Mayo Clinic claims, “stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out”
10) Practice relaxation exercises
When you experience anger, try relaxation exercises – deep breathing exercises, meditation or yoga. Figure out what works best for you. You can use Resperate to guide you through deep breathing exercises and within 15 minutes you may discover a very calm you. Listening to music can also work or write in a journal.
11) Know when you can’t do it alone
There are so many life experiences that inevitably cause anger and at times uncontrollable levels. Losing a loved one, illness, getting fired and divorce are just a few common life events that can cause severe levels of stress and anger that lingers for a long time. During such periods in life it can be very, very difficult to learn by yourself how to control your anger. If you feel you are having difficulty managing your anger, you can seek help. There are many professionals that specialize in anger management and that can help you understand your anger and get it under control.
Resources on High Blood Pressure and Anger used for this article
Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda Eli is a licensed Registered Nurse with 17 years experience. Eli graduated with a major in nursing and a minor in psychology. His postgraduate training was in trauma, oncology, and cardiology.
With a passion for health advocacy Eli researches and writes many articles concerning improving the lives of people diagnosed with high blood pressure and the complication they experience. He believes educating people is the best way to improve their overall health.
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