Is Anger Bad For Your Health?

The year was 1979. A seven-year old boy was in the living room, sitting in front of the TV, playing with some of his toys. After a commercial went off, the little guy jumped up full of excitement. He could hardly contain himself as one of the most famous lines in television history filled his ears.

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

The little guy, full of exuberance, put on his best angry face. Then he spun around towards his father–who was sitting on the couch near him–and hollered, “Yeah, Dad! Don’t make me angry! You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!”

Now the father couldn’t contain himself. His son’s face was so twisted and contorted that all he could do was laugh. Thinking that his father needed further convincing, the little guy started tearing his t-shirt and ripping it off. The father sat there for a split second. He was stunned for a second. Then amusement transformed into anger. “Boy! What in the world is wrong with you?!”

With his play anger melting into fear, the little guy quietly replied, “I…I’m The Incredible Hulk, Dad.”

“If you ever tear up your clothes like that again you’re going to get an incredible butt-whuppin’!”

The little guy in this comical story was me. And that was the first and last time I put the shirt ripping routine into my Incredible Hulk impersonation.

When I was growing up, it seemed like getting angry always lead to one of two results. One, people thought that you were the cool, tough guy (or woman) type that you don’t mess with. Or, two, they thought you were the overly sensitive, mindless monster moonlighting as a bully type.

You probably already know that anger is one of the most dangerous forces in existence. The seeds of war get planted, innocent people get killed, and countless harsh words are regretfully spoken because of unchecked anger.

Many people, especially t-shirt ripping Incredible Hulk fans, probably realize that anger can cause a lot of damage in the external world. Few individuals, however, truly understand the detrimental effects that anger can have on the internal world. When not understood and managed properly, anger can completely dismantle your well-being.

But before we explore some of the negative effects of mismanaged anger, know this: under normal circumstances anger is a vital tool for motivation.

If you are frustrated–which is a form of anger–because you made a mistake or blew an opportunity, your frustration can be the source of motivation you need to improve. If you believe that a loved one or anything you value (such as your car, your ego, or a belief) is being threatened, out jumps The Incredible Hulk to tell the culprit to scram or get smashed.

Self-esteem and respect are some of the intangible things people value that are often re-affirmed by displaying anger.

So, those are a few of the positive aspects of anger. Now let’s look at a few of the negatives. When left unchecked or even when it’s overly suppressed, anger can wreak havoc on your well being. Research shows that whenever you get angry more epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is released and your blood pressure rises.

Well, did you know that high blood pressure could erode the walls of your arteries the same way a raging river erodes its banks? That is crazy!

Heart attacks are being linked to excessive anger and strokes are linked to suppressed anger. Researchers believe that the occurrence of strokes in women is higher because, according to many cultures, it isn’t acceptable behavior for women to show their anger. It is deemed to be “un-lady-like”.

A review panel on coronary prone behavior and coronary artery disease (CAD) came to the conclusion that the effects of hostility (a state of mind in which angry thoughts and feelings are deemed necessary for protection from perceived threats) are equal to and possibly greater than the effects of high serum cholesterol, cigarette smoking, and high blood pressure.

Just to be clear, hostility is bad for your health.

Million-Dollar Question: How hostile are you?

Researchers asked nearly 4000 men to rate themselves on a scale of 1-5 in three categories. 1) Seldom get into arguments/Often get into arguments. 2) Not easily angered/Easily angered. 3) Not easily irritated/Easily irritated.

Based on the results, the researchers concluded that the men who scored in the 13-15 range (high hostility) were almost three times more likely to show symptoms of cardiac problems than the men who scored in the 3-5 range (low hostility). According to similar studies, hostile people are more likely to overeat, smoke, drink alcohol.

When people hear about some of the things that can increase anger levels, they are surprised.

For instance, do you drink coffee? Do you know someone with asthma? Are any of your friends bodybuilders? Have any of your friends been depressed lately? Are you still thinking about going on a diet?

Certain drugs such as caffeine, steroids for bodybuilding and other medications for asthma, antidepressants, and diet drugs can make a person more irritable and prone to getting angry.

And of course the number one cause of consistent rage is hanging around stupid people who do stupid things. Sorry, but I can’t help you out with that one.

If you want a few tips on effective anger and hostility management read my free ebook on anger, “Taming the Beast: 9 Keys for Mastering Your Anger”.

In closing, here are two things to keep in mind if someone or something is constantly irritating or angering you:

1. Anger can be bad for your health.

2. Don’t rip up your t-shirt. You won’t like your dad when he’s angry!

Who else is looking for a fun, engaging and inspiring Atlanta Motivational Speaker? Then visit his site to find out about how Al Duncan, the leading Atlanta Youth Motivational Speaker can help students and professionals build a competitive advantage in the 21st Century.

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