What Happens To Your Body When You're Feeling Angry

No matter how "totally chill" you live your life, you're bound to feel angry every now and then. Whether you missed lunch and now you're feeling hangry, or you just heard the news that you were passed up on that much-deserved promotion yet again, anger is a naturally occurring emotion that affects us all.

Studies have found that women manage anger differently than men, and that could be partially due to how women are perceived when they are angry. Women learn from a very early age that acting out in anger is not an acceptable way to respond to stressful feelings because it's seen as unladylike. This learned behavior leads to many women suppressing their anger in adult life while the men around them are allowed to outwardly express their aggression and anger. Contrary to popular belief, women experience anger just as often and as powerfully as men do.

When it comes to your anger, there is a fine line between healthy expression and putting your health at risk. Avoiding your angry feelings is dangerous for your physical and mental health, but too much anger can also put stress on your body, and over time, this can cause serious problems. Just like any emotion, managing your anger is all about balance.

Being angry lasts much longer in your body than you'd think

When something triggers your anger, your body physically responds to the stress almost immediately. Your entire nervous system becomes heightened, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline hormone production. Marriage and Family Therapist Patrice Douglas shared her expertise with Thriveworks, warning about the long-lasting effects that fleeting anger has on your body. "It takes three seconds for our body to go into full fight or flight mode ... we stay in this state for approximately 30 minutes each time we are mad throughout the day," she said. So next time your mother-in-law makes an inappropriate comment that she knows will send you spiraling, remember that your three-second response might not be worth the 30-minute stress your body endures afterward.

Cardiologist Dr. Ilan Shor Wittstein discussed anger's long-term effects on the body with The New York Times, saying, "We're activating these systems during times of frustration, anger or rage that in the short run might help you in an emergency situation. But in the long run, it might be quite detrimental to how these neurohormonal systems are activated as often as they are for those cases." Those who are quick to anger put themselves in this state of stress often, which can ultimately lead to increased anxiety and depression, heart problems, a lowered immune system, a higher risk of stroke, and even a shortened lifespan (per Everyday Health).

Channel your anger into productivity

While being quick to anger too often can be dangerous to your health, getting mad isn't always a bad thing. Per Poosh, therapist Charlotte Melki calls anger a "boundary guardian" that can be helpful when your body needs to react quickly in times of crisis and discomfort. Repressing your anger keeps your body in a state of stress that can affect your ability to properly digest, sleep, and fight off infection.

Lucky for those with short fuses, there are ways to transform your feelings of anger into serious motivation. Anger pumps us full of energy that can be used to do things we've been putting off. Next time your sweetie does something that royally pisses you off, try doing a few chores rather than chewing them out. You'd be surprised at how much better you feel when you take your aggression out on those dirty dishes, and then you can enjoy a clean space while you decompress. Exercise has also been found to be a great way to express your anger productively.

Learning to manage your anger is also about deciding when getting mad is actually an appropriate response. Some people just aren't worth your time or energy at all, and getting angry will only further exacerbate your problems. In those moments, learning to brush off your anger can lead to a more peaceful life. When getting angry doesn't seem like a productive option, experts recommend taking long, deep breaths, practicing mindfulness techniques, and refocusing on your own needs.