It´s normal to feel angry and sometimes, even see red and fly off the handle. What we must be careful about is how we channel that feeling over time. When I was younger, I would sometimes lash out in anger when I felt threatened or wronged. Other times, I would hold it in and allow it to build up, which resulted in pain, inner turmoil and distress. Over time, thanks to age and especially experience, I´ve learned to vent in healthy ways. I don´t want to be a grouchy old lady down the road.
Then there´s also the beauty related and social aspect of it. Chronically angry people look bitter. Deep frown lines and downturned mouths are dead giveaways of a sour and pissed-off attitude. Who wants to be around that? On the contrary, crow´s feet and laugh lines show just what a happy camper you are. Those are (nice) people magnets.
And finally, anger can negatively impact your health. People experiencing high levels of hostility can cause themselves permanent physical damage, according to an article in the Daily Mail by Emily Cook. She explains that findings from The British Medical Journal showed that chronic anger may contribute to aging by deteriorating body organs and functions. The article notes that the constant flow of stress chemicals caused by anger can lead to – you may want to sit down to read this – high blood pressure, headaches, digestion problems, insomnia, eczema, asthma, depression, heart disease and strokes, to name a few.
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In order to prevent all of the above, here are some tips that helped me curb my own bouts of anger and that I hope will help you too:
- Exercise: Exercise helps the brain release serotonin, which lifts your mood as Psychology Today explains. This helps you to be more objective and empathetic. It will help you assess a situation from a vantage point of compassion and not react out of sheer anger.
- Keep a journal. As Augusten Burroughs suggests in his book, This is How, if you have the ability to speak, you can also write. Express your anger by putting it all down on paper. Let it all hang out in a letter, a journal or an e- mail. Don´t edit it. Then delete it or throw it in the trash.
- Address it calmly. If you are upset at someone, address it, but do it when you are level-headed. Speak in terms of how you feel and abstain from finger-pointing or insulting the other person.
- Keep anger on a short leash. Don´t allow your anger to get the best of you. Acknowledge it, express it, then rein it in. If you don´t control it, it will control you.
As we get older, ideally we should be calmer than in our hot-headed youth. Make it a point of learning from experience and letting go of pent-up anger. Instead, save your energy in the second half of your life to unleash your creativity and pursue your dreams. Do it one day at a time. It works!