Though You May Feel it Often, this Emotion is NOT Good for Your Health


Though you may indulge in it often, pipe smoking is NOT good for your health either

Though you may indulge in it often, pipe smoking is NOT good for your health either

To kick off the New Year here at Mothering Outside the Lines, we’ve been talking about relationships and how to improve them.

Ask a mom if things are going well in her marriage. Chances are, she’ll say yes.

Give her a glass of wine and ask her if she ever gets mad at her husband. Chances are she’ll snort the Chardonnay right out her nose.

When my friend Martha Brockenbrough wrote an article for Parenting (“Mad at Dad”) about moms and anger, it struck such a chord that it got the attention of New York Times.

But moms don’t just get mad at our spouses.

We get mad at our kids.

We get mad at our mothers.

We get mad at the driver who cuts us off at the stop light.

We get mad at ourselves.

“Sorry I’m late,” apologized the manager of the furniture shop, rushing in at 9:15 a.m., a plastic pharmacy bag dangling from her wrist. “I had to stop at the drugstore.”


“No,” she rasped. “I was screaming so loudly at my kids this morning that I lost my voice.”

Anger. Rage. Fury. Ire. Wrath. Spleen. Petulance. The English language has dozens of words to describe an emotion that all of us feel keenly, whether we express it in a healthy way or not.

But is anger good for you?

Does anger have any health benefits?

To lead a healthy life is it better to express anger or suppress it?

There’s an abundance of health studies that suggest that anger is not good for your health. One University of North Carolina study, published in The Lancet, showed that men and women who possessed the most anger traits were as much as seven times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

Another study of anger management in 54 married couples conducted by Dr. Sybil Carrère, a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Child Nursing at the University of Washington, similarly found that women who could not control their anger, or who got angry more frequently than they would have liked, had feelings of dissatisfaction in their marriages, higher heart beats, and more trouble decompressing physically after a bout of anger.

According to Carrère, this evidence suggests that women’s cardiovascular health could be jeopardized by frequent anger.

“I just feel clenched,” explains Natasha Pangburn of Eugene, Oregon, who stops talking and feels herself “shutting off” when she gets angry.

“If I’m really angry I just turn off. I get this tight feeling. I feel like people don’t understand me no matter how hard I try.”

Pangburn, who’s been trying to find ways to express her anger more overtly, believes that anger is harmful and makes intimate relationships strained.

“It creates a divide between me and other people,” she says.

“I have one client who is angry and has irritable bowel syndrome,” said an obstetric nurse who works in Brattleboro, Vermont. “This person is getting bleeding ulcers from the tension the anger creates.” This medical professional believes that people need to be encouraged to resolve their anger in order to help them lead healthier lives.

“As a health care practitioner, that’s one of the first things I focus on—what are you angry about? How can I help you with it? That’s my number one priority.”

Readers, what people or situations make you the most angry? What are some of the ways you deal with your anger?

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12 thoughts on “Though You May Feel it Often, this Emotion is NOT Good for Your Health”

  1. Where did you get that image, Jennifer? Seems kind of shocking in this day and age. Maybe the mom-to-be is smoking to subdue angry feelings;?

    I find a little time out (stepping away from the scene, even if it’s only into a different room) can be effective — and easier on the lungs;)
    .-= sarah henry´s last blog ..Ten Top Food News Stories of 2010- Part One =-.

  2. I love the Comparison with the picture. Great article. Anger is definitely not good for you. When I get angry I have physical pain! It’s very easy to lose it when I am angry. The best thing to do is take deep breaths and count as high as needed. (10 is sooooo not long enough sometimes!)

    Colossians 3:8- But now really put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth.

  3. Seriously??? Is it okay to be angry all the time? No, but it’s a perfectly normal emotion. It’s not the same as smoking while pregnant to be angry while pregnant. Now there are going to be a whole bunch of mom’s worrying that they’ve caused issues in their children because they got mad once! Way to go Mothering!!

    (And that photo is so disturbing. I’m willing to bet that there is more than one parent who will look at that without reading the article and say “Oh yay, I can hit the pipe now while pregnant!!”)

  4. I am wondering if PB read the article. I’m sure the picture is saying, “anger is as bad as smoking.” I feel like some previous commentors mave have missed the point completely!

  5. Uh, I LOVE the photo! It’s hilarious. I came back to tell you that I love chuckling every time I scroll down and see it 🙂

  6. Like Sarah, sometimes I just need to take a little break from the situation. Thankfully, usually I can go over what’s troubling me with my husband, we can talk about it, sometimes it’s not really that big of deal, other times we figure out how to fix it.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..DIY- easy heating pad =-.

  7. Because I have watched my mom be angry for decades about certain things (grudges, I call them) … and because she indeed has heart issues, I try VERY hard to keep anger to a minimum. It doesn’t mean I don’t get mad, but I try to let it go as soon as I can.

    P.S. I think the photo is funny, but you might want to update the caption to keep people from making the wrong assumption.
    .-= Roxanne´s last blog ..Book Review- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough =-.

  8. Two very bad things–although the model seems to be enjoying herself a bit more than someone who is angry would be. Maybe that’s where the misunderstandings of the picture came from?

    And another thought:

    Every think there’s a reason that “mad” means both angry and crazy??

    .-= Vera Marie Badertscher´s last blog ..Idaho Revealed on Road Trip =-.

  9. Your post reminds me of a book I read recently, Perfect Madness: Mothering in the Age of Anxiety. Disturbing for sure.

    About anger, learning to cope with my own anger, or just frustration, intelligently and productively is an ongoing process. I figure it is for most of us. Luckily, I have a very patient, forgiving husband. We do feel spread more thin now that we’re adjusting to life with a baby, so the extra patience with each other is key.

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