Mad? Make it Work For You

Argg!  Ugg! No way!! Those exclamations could accompany a feeling of anger.  Of course, there can be hair pulling, teeth grinding, feet stomping, and pillow punching in there, too.  Whether or not you express anger in any of those ways, we have all felt it at some point. Life and people can be darn frustrating sometimes, downright unfair and make ya mad! And, most of us don't like to be mad.  I know I sure don't. I feel its effects both physically and emotionally.  So, no thanks. Bring me some zen.

But, wait just a moment.  Don't shun the anger 100 percent. Anger can be a positive and, dare I say, useful emotion, if, and only if, it is expressed appropriately. Can a possible obstructive emotion be turned on its ugly head to a possible constructive outcome? I think so.

But first, let's dig a bit and see what anger does to us - exactly.

Anger and Its Effects on Your Body

Friends. The news is not good.  Negative emotions will invariably impact your physical well-being, and anger can create ills on our bodies.  Here are some of them:

Your immune system suffers. When you are feeling heated, especially for longer periods, the ability to fight off infection can be weakened and make you susceptible to chronic inflammation, which can do this.

You don't think as well.  Anger can impair your reasoning and empathic abilities, which leads to bad decisions and weakened relationships. Stress and anger compromise the brain's ability to slow down.

The stress hormones come marching in.  The body is flooded with a cascade of cortisol or stress hormones which can lead to memory impairment and learning difficulties.

Your genes can go North or South. Your emotions can actually trigger your genes to either express health or disease.

And, that's no all:

Your body speeds up. Your pulse and breathing becomes more rapid. Your blood pressure increases. Those can trigger abnormal heart rhythms which accounts for many sudden deaths a year or heart attacks.

Your tummy aches.  Anger stimulates the release of acids in the stomach causing acid reflux, ulcers and other digestive issues.

Your body tenses and your muscles become tight. Tension in the head and neck muscles can cause migraines and even lead to sleep disorders. Your back can start to ache.

The wrong foods may become appealing. Anger may cause you to reach for the wrong foods in the wrong quantities causing weight gain or poor diet choices.

Expressing Anger in Healthier Ways

If you’re chronically angry or prone to big outbursts you could be inadvertently sabotaging your health as well as the health of others.  Not fair. And, those outbursts certainly don't go towards bonding those personal relationships. So, what do we do about it and how do we get to appreciate the positive side of anger, if that actually exists.

Tune in.  Start with not fearing anger so much. It is carrying an important message. Anger is a signal to yourself that something is wrong or that something needs to change. So, don't turn your back on your anger. Use it to work for you and for others without the lashing about and blaming others part of it.

Put on your walking shoes. If you feel the steam starting to rise, best walk away for a bit until you cool down and think a little more clearly.  It is totally fine to tell someone you need a bit of time. Doing something physical, such as going for a run or a walk can really help temper the heat you are feeling. Besides, going for a walk is much better than having to deal with the regret of saying something you didn't really mean if you stuck around too long.

Chill down.  Before you start the next step of examining further, find a way to relax.  Slow deep breathing, meditation, or prayer may help center you and slow your emotions down.

Peel back the layers.  Dig in and find the why.  This is my favorite part. Go deep. Just how mad are you? Is this a big mad or a little one?  Is it worth expelling your energy over it? Get clear with yourself and honest so that you can respond in a more useful way to remedy the situation or at least express yourself clearly. You must ask yourself what part you played in the situation.

Pick a strategy. Once you have identified the why, consider coming up with different ways on how to remedy the situation. Maybe that change could be a small shift in the dynamics of a relationship.  If you are the one that tends to comply to others' desires and resenting it.  Maybe you need to voice your preferences more.  Or perhaps others are telling you your choices are foolish, your attempts at something will never work. It makes you mad but that anger towards those doubters may spur you to work harder towards your goal. Forgiveness is also another great way to alleviate your anger and make that change in yourself.  Or, you may decide to do nothing at all for the moment and feel that is the best option for now.

It is not easy to always temper your emotions, I know. But, think of the alternative and further damage you can cause yourself and others as well as your health if your negativity is thrown about with abandon.  If we slow down and take the time to answer anger constructively and take in the message, we just may find ourselves on the other side of something pretty great.

What about you? Have you found a technique you use when you are mad that you would like to share?  Has anger ever really made things better in the long run for you?

eye: photo credit: <a href="">Andrew Mason</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>
thought:photo credit: <a href="">@boetter</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>