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.
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?