Feel the Heat without Getting Burned: Turning Fiery Emotions into Healthy Connections

Feelings, particularly those like hurt or anger, can have negative consequences on our physical body due to the neurological and neurochemical connections between the mind and body. When you experience internalized anger, your nervous and hormonal systems react, producing neurotransmitter chemicals. These chemicals can lead to harmful side effects that compromise your health and impact your personal and professional relationships significantly.

Repressed or Unexpressed Feelings

Habitual anger felt over time is detrimental to your health. Suppose you become angry and fail to express it in a productive manner. In that case, your body reacts through the stress-adaptation response, resulting in biochemical physical responses that can lead to severe health conditions or even death. Health issues associated with chronic anger include:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tense muscles
  • Heart attack
  • Hiatus hernia
  • Glaucoma
  • Stroke
  • Hives
  • Asthma
  • Ulcers
  • Migraines
  • Low back pain
  • Psoriasis
  • Shortened life expectancy

Moreover, anger has been linked to loneliness, chronic anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and phobias in many health studies.

The Impact on Relationships

Anger can also damage relationships and hinder the development and maintenance of close bonds. Communicating effectively is crucial to learning how to handle anger and establishing healthy and fulfilling relationships.

Learning how to communicate doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of us developed communication skills from our families and environment, but there are easy-to-learn, proven skills that can equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to channel and express your anger or hurt feelings appropriately.

When you can express your feelings, whether sadness, frustration, or anger, you feel more in control of your life and can create the relationships you want with others.

Communication as the Solution

Current research indicates that expressing and resolving relationship issues is healthier than bottling up feelings and letting them make you sick or create conflicts at work or home. Numerous studies provide a communication model that works in various environments and relationships. One such model can be found in “Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills” by Georgianna Donadio, Ph.D.

Some tips for effective communication when dealing with anger include:

  1. Take a break: If you are too angry to think or speak clearly, take some time to calm down before trying to discuss your feelings.
  2. Use “I” statements: Instead of saying, “You make me angry,” say, “I feel angry when…” This helps prevent the other person from feeling attacked or defensive.
  3. Stick to the issue: Focus on the specific action or situation that triggered your anger rather than bringing up unrelated past issues.
  4. Listen carefully: Sometimes, anger can make it difficult to hear what the other person is saying. Try to listen carefully and respectfully to their perspective before responding.
  5. Show empathy: Try to understand the other person’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. This can help build a bridge of understanding and resolve conflicts.
  6. Offer possible solutions: Instead of just complaining about the situation, suggest possible solutions or compromises that might resolve the issue.
  7. Know when to seek help: If you continue to struggle with anger and conflict management, consider seeking help from a professional therapist, counselor, or support group.

By learning how to recognize and express anger in a healthy and productive way, you can take charge of your feelings, reduce the risk of stress-related health problems, and improve your relationships. These skills can be honed by practice, patience, and commitment, empowering you to lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life.