Repressed anger can increase your risk for high blood pressure
Have you ever been mad at your significant other or friend and, instead of confronting them, you decide to do the "grown-up" thing -- ignore them?
I have been there -- when instead of confronting what I'm angry about, I just let it fester inside of me (probably because I'm too chicken to actually talk about it) -- until it feels like my eyeballs are going to pop out of my head from trying so hard to hold it in.
But, it turns out, doing this isn't healthy. And it can harm your heart.
NBC News reports that keeping your fear, anger or anxiety to yourself can boost your risk for high blood pressure, known to be a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. According to new German research, those who bottle up their emotions instead of expressing them have a higher rate of pulse ratio.
And hiding feelings of anxiety on the outside has the opposite effect on the inside with an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. And, although you may have a smile on your face, your armpits may show a different story considering studies show repressing stress may cause you to sweat more.
One theory as to why this happens is that, when bottling up your feelings, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which controls reactions to stress, becomes hyperactive, releasing cortisol and increasing blood pressure, reports NBC.
What are some positive ways to use that bottled up anger? Definitely not to punch out the person who is making you angry.
Just going for a walk once a day can help immensely. Researchers at Aichi University in Japan found that this can decrease diastolic blood pressure by four points in four weeks. Or channel your anger into an activity, such as art or a sport.
Don't jump to conclusions. Slow down. Think of what you're going to say before you say it. Listen to what the other person is saying. Talk through your problems with the person who is making you angry (and I'm not saying in a screaming match either). Letting out your emotions isn't a bad thing. And, when someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store, saying calmly, "The line starts behind me," is a lot better than keeping quiet and mentally punching the person out in your mind for the rest of the day.
But instead of hitting a person, punching an inanimate object could help. Punch a punching bag or a pillow. In Serbia, a "Rage Room" was recently opened where people can go in and smash furniture and other household items with a baseball bat. That's not a bad idea (although, of course, only do this to items you were planning to throw away).
Using relaxation methods, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can also help, reports The American Psychology Association. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Use yoga-like exercises.
Humor can also help diffuse rage. And I'm not talking about harsh, sarcastic humor either.
Give yourself some personal time. Schedule some quiet time on a daily basis.
But if you feel your anger is out of control, a psychologist or counselor can also help you. In the long run, this could save your life.