There’s this idea that “getting it out” when we’re angry is actually helpful or fulfilling in some way, that taking the opportunity to really lay into someone when they’re hurt us is helpful. It makes sense logically: if someone injures us, we strike back at them and injure them at least as hard as they injured us, and all is right with the world. In fact, Aristotle and Freud were both fans of this notion of cathartic anger.
Except it isn’t. Hank Green comes to this conclusion after ranting for nearly 4 minutes straight in this vlogbrothers video.
Recent studies by a wealth of universities and psychological groups have determined that anger is, in fact, pretty terrible for your health.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. Anger and depression go hand-in-hand.
While the jury is still out, for the most part, on whether depression causes anger or vice versa, it’s pretty clear that they make close companions. People suffering from depression are highly likely to experience outbursts of anger or rage, and incredibly angry people are highly likely to become depressed. It’s a self-fulfilling vicious cycle.
2. Anger can actually cause headaches.
3. Anger causes your judgment to be affected.
When you’re angry, your focus narrows, you are cognitively impaired and you may make poor choices as a result. Anger makes consequences seem less important and makes you process less information. Your prejudices increase and your analytical skills are hindered. What’s not to love?! (j/k)
4. Anger makes your blood actually boil.
By activating the fight-or-flight response, anger creates a boatload of stress and anxiety hormones, which elevate your blood pressure. The angrier you get, the more stressed out you get, and if you think that “getting it out” helps this…it doesn’t. Becoming demonstrative or putting your anger into action only makes it worse by increasing those hormones and chemicals that affect your blood pressure.
5. Anger is really bad for your heart.
The same stress-induced hormones and chemicals that raise your blood pressure also elevate heart rate significantly, putting you at greater risk for a heart attack. One Harvard Medical School study found that the angriest men were actually three times more likely to get struck by a heart attack.
So what are you supposed to do if you’re angry? There are a lot of helpful suggestions and guidelines to answer that available online, but I find that this article from Tiny Buddha is pretty spot-on.