Modern society is highly focused on efficiency, productivity, and immediate gratification. Although this trend is greatly influenced by technology, it is also important to stay aware of the human reactions and adaptations that it brings. While many aspect of life are made easier by these advances, they also bring about a new perspective of the world that can have a negative impact on health.
One of the main psychological trends that is evident with this social change is need for constant stimulation or gratification that individuals will seek out. Conversely, this also means that when this immediate meeting of desires is not forthcoming, there is also a larger stress reaction to the event. The most common expressions are anger and frustration, which can quickly escalate to dangerous levels.
The result is that there is more of an issue with anger management in our society than has been in the past, but this also contributes to many of the chronic health conditions that can further impact reactions to a situation. What is important to note is that the psychological response is eliciting a physical reaction as well, and this can also become a negative feedback loop for health and wellness.
The Correlation Between Anger and Blood Pressure
One thing that is important to remember in this mind and body connection is that anger is a part of the fight, flight, or frolic stress reaction. This means that as the emotions begin to rise, neurotransmitters in the body also signal for the release of more adrenaline into the bloodstream. As an evolutionary development, the excess adrenaline is meant to provide a short burst of extra energy and power, as this can ensure that the organism survives the threat.
In the modern world, the stress response can still be highly beneficial, but it is also not as necessary to survival. However, people with anger management issues can go through a stress response that lasts through most of their waking hours. The result is that the excess adrenalin in the system also raise blood pressure, even at times of rest. Not only is relaxation harder to achieve, but the body is also unable to achieve balance in between bouts of anger. The result is consistently high bold pressure that is also goes up further when a new anger response is felt.
What Anger Does to Your Heart
As blood pressure becomes higher it also puts a considerable strain on the heart. Adrenaline is a vasodilator which means that it causes blood vessels to expand in order to allow a higher volume of blood to pass through. Physiologically this becomes beneficial, because it also means that all the tissues in the system will receive a higher ratio of oxygen, and this fuels faster cell metabolism, which can manifest as:
- Faster reaction time
- Greater speed
- Better strength and stamina
However, these benefits should naturally subside one the trigger to the stress reaction has passed, and this lowers the blood pressure and also slows the heart rate. For people with anger management issues, the impact of a continuous stress reaction also means that the heart is steadily trying to move a greater volume of blood at all times. The results of this ongoing strain to the heart are the same as for any muscle:
One of the concerns for overall wellbeing is that the fatigue and falter stages may not be immediately evident, and the development of a chronic heart condition, ongoing high blood pressure, and cardiac disease are all possible before the issue is addressed. Further concerns are that developed conditions in the heart and blood vessels can be managed, but are not always reversible if they are too far along.
Anger Management Therapies and Other Tips For Coping
Anger management essentially becomes a behavioral intervention that is geared towards teaching people new ways to act in situations that can cause stress and frustration. Many therapies will involve group therapies, as this can be especially beneficial with individuals who project or tend to blame others for their condition. In a group setting, these interactions are observed by the counselor, and the issues can be addressed as they arise.
The group setting also provides a further benefit in that it helps people to re-learn how to relate to one another. Effective communication is a strong focus for these types of sessions, as is
- Appropriately voicing feelings and needs
- Learning to listen to the other side of the argument
- Finding healthy ways of releasing anger energy
- Turning to constructive problem solving
- Learning to accept and respect others
- Validating self while also validating others
Group anger management can be particularly effective since it combines life skills and a social setting as a teaching environment. The result is that participants not only gain knowledge and education, but they also gain experiential learning through the process. This factor of experience in enacting behavioral change can lead to lasting results and greater versatility with coping skills.
Some individuals may seek out private help for anger management and this can also be an effective way of learning coping skills. The use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), bio-feedback, and talking sessions are all strong theories for approaching anger management on an individual basis.
Private therapy sessions tend to be well suited to individuals whose anger arises regarding situations and events, but who will also tend to suppress the emotions in the moment, only to find them even more forceful later. It should also be noted that just because a person does not explicitly express anger does not mean that they are not feeling the emotions. Many individuals who are outwardly considered mild-mannered can still have anger management issues, and private sessions are often best for addressing the root cause of the reaction and changing behavior.
Although professional help is highly recommended with anger management, individuals can still take steps on their own to improve coping skills. This can include:
- Journaling to constructively release emotion
- Engaging in more relaxing pastimes
- Exercise and any physical activity, including sports or yard work
- Regulating breathing in order to settle emotions