No one particularly likes the feeling of getting angry. We don’t mean feeling a little irritated and being motivated to make positive changes by constructive anger. The kind of anger we’re talking about is the blood-pumping, adrenaline-spiking anger that gets your face red and your hands shaking. Some people are very slow to anger, while others have volatile temperaments and are prone to flying off the handle.
If you’re in the latter camp, you might benefit greatly from anger management methods as you get older. This isn’t just because a calm demeanor is better for those around you (it is), but because anger is very bad for your health as you age. Here’s why.
Chronic anger keeps your body in a “fight or flight” state, escalated beyond normal operations and ready to lash out. Your heart rate increase, your body releases adrenaline and your muscles tighten and tense. This puts a strain on your cardiovascular system. If you’re constantly getting to this escalated state, and staying there for as much as an hour at a time, then you’re doing considerable damage to your heart, veins and lungs.
As You Age
In particular, the chemicals cortisol (the stress hormone) and norepinephrine (the fight-or-flight hormone) become more harmful as we age. People in their 80’s are much more susceptible to these chemicals, and can see their health deteriorating more rapidly from chronic anger than someone in their 60’s. This means that anger responses that were once perfectly normal can become incredibly taxing and bad for your health as you age.
How to Prevent This
As you might guess, this best way to handle this is to try to keep from getting angry. As you get older, try to find more things to help you mellow out. Try to avoid people or subjects that get you fired up. When you feel yourself starting to get angry, take a deep breath and slowly exhale it as you remove yourself from the situation that’s angering you. This is good for the people around you, and it’s good for your health!