What is anger?
Everybody feels the basic human emotion of anger from time to time. It's generally viewed as an unpleasant emotion brought on by emotional or physical pain, or when faced with things or situation we can't change that are stopping us from achieving our goals. It is however a natural emotion that is experienced in different ways according to the make up of the individual.
Why do people bottle anger up
There are many reasons individuals consciously or unconsciously bottle anger up. These include:
- An inability to stand up for themselves or fight back in times of confrontation.
- The assumption that displaying emotion implies weakness. This is especially true in men.
- They are unaccepting of anger as a natural emotion and therefore try to conceal it.
- They worry what others may think of an angry outburst.
- They feel angry outbursts suggest an instability, which is detrimental when they assume themselves to be the "rock" for others.
- They don't immediately react with anger out of shock.
- They don't fully understand how they feel and therefore repress anger.
- They are afraid of being hurt or left and therefore conceal their angry feeling.
What happens when you bottle up anger
There are many dangerous consequences of bottling up anger. Some of these include:
Stress exhaustion can cause a number of physical ailments such as insomnia, obesity, muscle related tension, headaches, indigestion, fatigue and unstable blood pressure. As a result of exhaustion, you may also feel depressed, dumb, anxious, argumentative, and may cause you to experience difficulties with memory and concentration.
A Change in Mood
Crabbiness and snappiness are also signs an individual is bottling up anger. The may bottle up their emotions and then suddenly one day "explode", leaving loved ones and colleagues are the victims.
Those who bottle up anger also report feeling of depression, a lack of confidence and the inability to get themselves out of undesirable confrontations.
Pent up anger can make an individual really unwell. Anger can cause chronic stress, triggering your parasympathetic nervous system into a "fight or flight" response.
In this heightened nervous state of arousal, your heart rate increases, your muscles tense, your blood pressure rises and your digestion slows, amongst a list of other destructive physiological side effects. All of these effects combined not only leave us tired but decrease our immune response, increasing vulnerability to sickness, disease and other chronic conditions.
A change in behaviour
Anger can contribute to poor work performance, and relationship problems between friends, family and colleagues. Finding healthy ways to express your anger allows the other to more greatly understand you and improves communication and intimacy.
Some may also turn to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of the anger, instead of confronting the emotion and expressing it in a healthy, controlled fashion.
Anger Management techniques
So you now know the disastrous side effects of bottling up your anger. Please read on for more information on the many healthy ways you may choose to healthily express your anger, ensuring a longer, happier, more fulfilling life.
Let your head catch up with your anger, stop for a moment and breathe! Close your eyes and take five big breaths; breathe in deeply, and breathe out completely, letting all frustration go. The calm triggered by the extra oxygen and repetitive counting will give you the ability to reflect on your anger objectively, allowing you to think logically about things.
Write it all down
Putting a pen to paper is an excellent, healthy way to unload any sort of negative emotion. It gives you clarity time to reflect on why you are feeling angry, and gives space for new perspective to come in.
Scream into a pillow
Screaming can release the build up of negative energy caused by anger, allowing for a certain sense of calmness after. Just make sure to scream into your pillow in order to not frighten the neighbours.
Scientific research has shown that physical activity can be used as a healthy, socially acceptable release for anger amongst other negative emotions. High-impact cardio exercise such as cycling, kickboxing or running can help your burn off stress-induced adrenalin, whilst more mindful exercise such as yoga can develop your awareness, allowing you to more readily identify your anger ‘triggers'.
Relax to some music
Listening to music or even playing an instrument is an excellent way to work through your angry feelings. Listening to a song on a similar subject has the ability to move you emotionally out of the anger and the power to heal it altogether.
Talk to someone you trust
If you don't feel comfortable talking about your reason for being angry with a loved one, it would be a good investment to speak to a trained psychologist, who can provide you with an outside view and advice.
Give your pet a hug
Interacting with animals is a great way to relieve pent up feelings of frustration and anger. Dogs particularly often sense the emotions of their owners and other humans. Recent scientific studies have shown that touching a pet aids contributes to the healing process, lowering the parasympathetic nervous system response with their unconditional love.
If anger is causing problems in your relationships, at work or even in your health, it is always advisable to seek professional help.