Here’s What Goes On In Your Body When You Get Angry
Unless you’re a Buddhist monk who has reached the highest stage of enlightenment, you’re going to get angry at least a few times a month. It isn’t entirely your fault either. How does anyone expect you to stay calm when customer service puts you on hold AGAIN? Anger isn’t just an emotion though, it causes a series of hormonal and physiological reactions in your body. You know what happens on the outside when you get angry. People start apologizing, run for cover and a few vases might get smashed in the process. But what happens on the inside?
Let’s imagine your pizza delivery guy is 40 minutes late, only to show up with the wrong order. Deep inside the temporal lobe of your brain is the amygdala. This region is fully responsible for your emotions and controls your fight-or-flight responses. The amygdala gets triggered by the irresponsibility of the delivery boy and causes a wave of blood to gush through your frontal cortex, impairing your ability to think clearly. You might start cursing every generation of the poor delivery boy’s family because you’re so consumed by your emotion. The part of your brain responsible for logical reasoning is clouded by the response created by the amygdala. The things you often say but don’t mean in the heat of the moment is often because of your overexcited amygdala.
Next, your adrenal gland perceives things are getting heated and prepares your body for fight or flight. It begins to secrete cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones which tell your body to prepare itself. This redirects blood flowing to your stomach and small intestine to your muscles instead. Your blood pressure rises, pupils dilate, heart rate increases and breathing becomes shallow and rapid. At this point, you will be visibly furious with the delivery boy who will probably be cowering in fear of you.
Your body also begins to pump more fatty acids and sugar into your bloodstream to provide you with enough energy to deal with the threat. While this is great in actual life-threatening situations, if it happens too often, it could be a problem. If you get angry very often, fatty acids and sugar start building up in your bloodstream, clogging your arteries. Your hippocampus (the region responsible for responding to stress) also gets confused if you get angry too often. It will not be able to differentiate between an actually stressful event and something small. By getting angry too often, you will be impairing your hippocampus which will soon start responding to even trivial events with its usual high-stress responses.
Getting angry a few times a month is completely normal. But if you find yourself losing patience for even the smallest things, it could have a detrimental effect on your health. Anger issues have been linked to a higher risk for depression, cardiovascular disease and insomnia among other things. There are a few simple things you can do the next time you feel your anger getting the better of you if you want to keep it under check. Remember how blood gushing to our brain impairs our ability to think clearly? The next time you feel you might say something you might regret, count from one to ten. This should give you enough time to beat the wave of emotion and think rationally again. Meditation will also give you better peace of mind since it teaches you how to be the master rather than the slave to your emotions.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.