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Stress Effects All: From Expressing Anger to Healing from Physical Injury

By February 26, 2008 - 2:34pm
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Do you feel comfortable expressing your anger? I am the "peacemaker" in the family, and if I ever show that I'm frustrated or upset...heaven forbid angry..at work or home, the entire mood changes, because I'm not in my expected "role". Do you have this problem also? (I equate it to men not being "socially allowed" to express sadness or cry). Well, there is a new study about unexpressed (or uncontrolled) anger, and how it can actually not only hurt your stress level, but also damage your physical health as well!

Excessive and chronic stress has been known to cause many physical and psychological symptoms and conditions, including depression, sleep difficulties, high blood pressure, headaches and digestive issues.

Stress and anger have quite a bit in common, as they both cause the body to release hormones, particularly cortisol, and increased levels of cortisol aggravate the immune system, by suppressing it's ability to react properly.

In a new study, researchers wanted to know if "out of control" anger caused wounds to take longer to heal. The study participants who were considered as having "low anger control" were four times more likely to heal four days slower from an arm blister than those who expressed anger appropriately (and had "high anger control"). This was great news to me, as many of us were raised to not be angry (much as men were raised not to cry). The results showed that participants who weren't angry *and* who controlled their anger properly healed in the same amount of time. Those that did not control their anger were the ones with longer healing time. That's great news to those of us who would like to express our anger appropriately, and never knew how (or felt that we could)!

So..what are the best ways to express anger, which can lead to a lower level of stress? I know myself, and I assume many of you, were raised to be "nice" and the "peacemaker" of the family. We were not taught how to appropriately express our anger, which makes other people uncomfortable (and that's just not "nice"!)

How to appropriately express anger and frustration:
1. Take a Time out. Re-evaluate the situation from a different perspective.
2. Get Active. Physical activity can provide an outlet for emotions, and help you get a new perspective.
3. Self Soothe. Practice deep breathing (the quickest way to elicit the "relaxation response" to counteract the "stress response"!) or repeat a mantra to yourself (phrases: calm, it's okay, peaceful)
4. Music. Listen to some of your favorite music, sing in the shower or car
5. Talk. Make sure to not only vent, but talk about solutions, too.

Have you had problems with either controlling anger or expressing it? I've always had trouble with the differences between passive, assertive and aggressive.

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