Don’t get mad, get moving
Anyone who knows me knows that my threshold for things like stupidity is pretty low. And when it does come into my life – I’m not going to lie – it pisses me off. I feel angry. But we all know what that feels like. And it’s perfectly normal. What’s not ok is failing to deal with anger in a healthy way.
With National Anger Awareness Week upon us, there’s no better time to talk tempers and how to get a grip on them. That’s right, people – I’m talking about cooling off your hot head by working out.
The science behind seeing red
We all know what it feels like when something seriously gets under our skin and pushes our buttons. But in the heat of the moment, have you ever stopped to think what’s going on inside your body?
The thing is, when you get angry, it sets off your ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response. Your adrenal glands go into overdrive sending a surge of stress hormones – like adrenaline and cortisol – throughout your body. This sparks a rise in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature as your body gets set to take action. You might let it play out in a destructive way, or repress it altogether. Quite frankly, neither end well.
What anger does to your body
Being angry all the time puts you at risk of heart disease and stroke. Simple as that. It’s no coincidence that people can have a heart attack or burst blood vessel in their brain during or after an outburst. In fact, according to one study, the risk of heart disease doubles for people more prone to anger than others.
Being constantly ticked off can also be a ticking time bomb for your immune system, not to mention making anxiety and depression worse. The steady stream of stress chemicals surging through your body can also cause things like headaches, insomnia, and gut issues.
Getting a grip
You might think learning to control your anger is easier said that done. But believe me – there are things you can do. You’ve just got to make the decision to do them.
It starts with knowing what winds you up, recognising the shift in your emotions, and making a choice in that moment to deal with it in a way that doesn’t involve exploding or bottling it up.
If you feel like you’re losing control in the moment, do what I do and take back control by walking away from the situation until you cool down and can think clearly. Breathe, people, breathe.
But more than that, think long term about bringing your stress levels down and taking control of your body through regular exercise. I’m talking running, boxing, weight training, cycling – all great ways to get a handle on stress.
As well as sweating out the stress, you could also try relaxing more by getting into things like Yoga, which combines breathing and meditation with sequential movements that’ll stretch your worries away.
Why it works
I’m not making this stuff up. Google it – there are hundreds of studies from around the world which show the link between regular exercise, reduced stress levels and a lift in mood. And there’s a reason for that.
When you exercise, your body not only burns up stress chemicals, it produces mood-regulating chemicals in the brain including – you guessed it – endorphins. This explains why you often feel more energised, in control and positive about things after a good workout.
As well as reducing stress and smashing through your anger, working up a sweat will strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure – helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Now that’s something to be happy about.
Next time you feel those stress chemicals coming on, don’t get mad, get moving. Get your arse into gear by working out your anger and getting fitter and healthier in the process. You’ll feel better for it, and your body will thank you, too.
Owner and Personal Trainer