Anger and the Heart

AngryHeartLately, I have been hearing about how anger affects health. That got me wondering what it does to heart health.

I know anger can’t be eliminated from life, even though many of us would choose that. All of us feel frustration and irritation with the stuff of our lives. We get upset with slow traffic, actions of others, and other difficult circumstances. After reading information about this online I learned that anger is a normal emotion, but too much of it can be be harmful.

Apparently, it releases adrenaline, enabling the body to fight or flee in dangerous situations. Frequent feelings of anger cause the body to stay hyper-alert, stressing the heart. Breathing becomes fast, blood pressure spikes, muscles contract, and the heart beats faster. All of this makes the heart work hard and strains it.

Other life habits can also be hard on the heart, such as poor eating, sleeping, and drinking habits, and lack of exercise. We don’t need to add repeated bouts of anger to that list.

Now that I am more aware of how habitual anger can hurt my heart, I am doing something about it. I can’t totally prevent angry feelings, but I can pause before I react with anger. I can walk away or just remain detached. It works. Recently, I observed another person’s agitation and I decided to not join in—I remained observant and calm instead. It was wonderful! I want to continue doing that in situations when I typically feel angry so my heart can feel more grateful and healthy. Please tell me what you know about anger and your heart.

RedHeartClosingSymbol Susan

2 thoughts on “Anger and the Heart

  1. Victoria November 14, 2015 / 11:34 pm

    Good idea about stepping back and pausing before reacting. Definitely gives you time to think, “is this really worth getting upset over?”

    When I was a therapist, I would give clients/patients a scale called “The Catastrophe Scale”. On it were numbers 1-10. #10 was “The Twin Tower Attacks”. #1 was “traffic light was red too long.”

    I encouraged them to write their own #10 and #1, and then, anytime they got angry or upset, they were to put the triggering incident next to a number. This could then put experiences in context.

    Of course, I always had a few people to whom EVERYTHING was a #10! So it wasn’t always successful.

    But I keep a list like that in mind, most days, to keep things in perspective.

    Like

  2. SusanU November 16, 2015 / 7:20 am

    Yes, it is easy to automatically go off like a bottle rocket when an annoyance is really small. I like your reaction scale. Thanks!

    Like

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