How often throughout your day do you find yourself feeling defensive or passive-aggressive towards others? Do you feel hostile towards yourself and self-deprecating if you've made a mistake? Do you even recognize when your anger pours out of you, or has it become an imprint of your personality and in your daily life?
Anger is a natural human emotion, just like happiness and sadness – and like those other emotions, there are various degrees to the symptoms of anger, different types of anger as well as numerous ways to cope with anger.
Types of anger issues
Some types of anger disorder include chronic anger, volatile anger, judgmental anger, passive anger, overwhelmed anger, retaliatory anger, self-inflicted anger, and constructive anger (1). And with so many ways anger can arise, it's common for us to become scared of the anger we feel. This powerful emotion can contribute to negative thoughts and sometimes actions that are out of our character – wreaking havoc on your mental and emotional wellbeing.
There are a few notable symptoms and signs, for example we may express anger through rage, isolation, irritation, withdrawing, and verbiage. It can also be extremely detrimental to our health – for one, people who typically suffer with rage and anger tend to have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
How can emotions influence your overall health
Our emotions greatly impact our physical body. The longer we hold onto a grudge or feel resentment towards others, the more we are hurting ourselves. Think of it this way, no matter how angry you feel inside, the person you are angry with is never going to feel your emotion in their body. You feeling angry only hurts you.
In order to truly feel good and manage anger long-term, we have to work on our emotional health as well as our physical health. The good news is that there are some mindfulness techniques and daily habits that can help us to reduce the anger we feel, including paying attention to what we eat and by exercising regularly.
How to control anger with exercise
Exercise is a fantastic, natural way to relieve anger. In fact, a study completed with overweight children proved exercise to be a successful way to decrease anger long-term (2), while another study demonstrated how exercise can have a beneficial effect on anger in men – leaving them in control of their emotions in the end. (3)
With both studies, aerobic exercise proved to be one of the best ways to reduce your anger and one of the best exercises for anger management as well as improving your cardiovascular system.
Aerobic exercise is anything that gets your heart rate up and gets you out of breath. These types of activities include running, jumping rope, walking fast, swimming, bicycling, hiking, rollerblading, using the row machine or stair master, etc.
Even though both studies showed aerobics to reduce anger, it is not the only exercise you can do. As long as you are working out on a consistent basis in a way that gets your heart rate up and feels good, you should see some improvements in your mood.
Consistency is the secret to really seeing an impact with exercise. It takes more than one workout a week to get the health benefits that exercise provides. So try to get in a workout at least 3-4 times a week and be sure to find an exercise that you love!
What food we should eat to control temper
The other piece of the puzzle is what we are eating. The idea of a gut-brain connection, that you may have heard of, is extremely real. 90% of our serotonin lives in our gut, therefore low serotonin levels can lead to negative thoughts, feeling tense and irritable. This proves that our gut microbiome plays a crucial role in our overall health and mental health for that matter (4).
For many, a typical day of eating includes a lot of fast food and processed foods that are full of chemicals. These kinds of foods have a negative impact on your gut microbiome and can lead to an influx of bad bacteria in the gut. This type of environment can directly impact your mood making you feel cranky and filled with dramatic mood swings.
One way to relieve your anger is to eat foods in their natural, whole, unprocessed state. You want to focus on eating proteins (plant or animal), fresh vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. You also want to avoid limiting yourself of food (aka being on a diet) because when we feel hungry, we typically get irritable.
Chinese medicine and emotions, anger and liver healing
In Chinese medicine, there is this idea that the liver plays the largest role in anger. When we are feeling tense or stressed, it could be a reflection of congestion in the liver. One way to help cleanse the liver is to eat foods that are beneficial for the liver. These foods include beets, mung beans, cucumber, seaweeds, dandelion root, milk thistle seeds, chamomile flowers, turmeric, ginger, daikon radish, pomegranate, and chlorophyll-rich foods (5).
The more you pay attention to what you are eating, the more you will see how well your body is responding. Food is very personal, so you have to experiment and figure out what foods aggravate you and what foods calm you. Typically a diet high in animal meat, sugar, and alcohol increases anger, so try and focus on adding more vegetables and whole, natural ingredients to your diet to avoid being so angry all the time. You'll be surprised by how much it actually works – you really can reduce your anger by changing what you are eating and how much you are exercising!
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1. Health Guidance: https://www.healthguidance.org/entry/11742/1/Types-of-Anger.html
2. National Institute of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678873/
3. Mental Help: https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/exercise-can-it-reduce-angry-feelings/
4. CalTech: https://www.caltech.edu/news/microbes-help-produce-serotonin-gut-46495
5. Chinese Medicine Living: https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/medicine/organs/the-liver/