Anger – Concept, Origin, Effects and How to Handle It

We explain what anger is and what its effects are on the body, both visible and non-perceptible. Also, tips to handle it.

Anger can be focused on a certain stimulus or expressed in a general way.

What is anger?

It is known as anger or rage (and its most extreme versions: anger and rage) when feeling of more or less violent irritation or annoyance, which arises before a stimulus or an internal or external situation. This type of sensation can also be focused on a specific referent or stimulus, or expressed in a general and non-specific way.

The anger It is part of the primitive responses that humans and animals exhibit to threatening situations, and are often accompanied by a set of physical and mental symptoms, as the body and mind prepare for the possibility of violence. However, on the spectrum of anger there is room for gut reactions of this type, as well as other more calm ones, such as indignation or resentment.

The word anger comes from the Latin verb I will ignore (“To cause hatred”), which could come from abbreviated expressions and sayings, such as in hate esse (“To be hated”). His arrival in Spanish took place in the form anger, which ended up being the current anger, and it did so within the cultural framework of Christianity, in whose tradition it is part of the capital sins, that is, of the seven sins that engender other sins and therefore the most severely repudiated.

Effects of anger on the body

Anger is perceptible from its physical manifestations, especially when affect facial expression and body language, and in the most extreme cases, reaching physical or bodily aggression. This it is usually accompanied by an alteration in perceptions and self-control, as well as in the objective observation of reality. Therefore, angry people interpret things differently than they would calm down.

Apart from these changes that respond to the mental and physical preparation for the coming aggression, anger usually causes a series of identifiable physiological effects in the body, such as:

  • Increased blood pressure levels, of the heart rate and the respiration, all symptoms of the corporal preparation for the fight or the flight.
  • Increase in the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline.
  • Muscle tension and body stiffness, which can later develop into contractures and generalized fatigue.
  • Increase in stress levels.

Tips for managing anger

Anger can be a natural reaction, but its continued presence leads to problems of a physical, emotional and social nature, so its prudent handling is always necessary. That does not mean repressing it, but implementing strategies that allow us to experience it in a less destructive, tragic or harmful way for those around us. Some of these strategies are:

  • Take a break. The most common problem with anger is that it triggers immediate, spontaneous, poorly thought-out reactions, which moments later we may regret, but which will not always have a solution. Thus, the ideal is to take a pause before doing or saying something in an angry way, which can be done by counting to 10 or by taking the trouble to take 5 slow and deep breaths.
  • Express anger verbally. Emotions cannot be fully contained, and what is not expressed verbally is usually expressed through other means, for example by acting in a certain way. Thus, before allowing the body to react violently, it is preferable to express anger for what it is: a fleeting feeling. Thus, it can be very helpful to say out loud “I am upset”, “I feel very angry” or something similar, which is not insulting and also alerts the other of what one is feeling.
  • Interrupt in an emergency. If things are getting out of hand, it is always better to withdraw in time than to commit something awkward. So if we notice that anger is overwhelming us and that we are no longer thinking clearly, perhaps it is time to cut the discussion and resume it later, or to leave the place of dispute before everything escalates.
  • Reflect once the anger has passed. This is key to making anger a more meaningful experience in life, allowing us to know ourselves more and better deal with situations that may arise in the future. This means that, once tempers have calmed, we must return to the situation mentally, but not to relive it, but to think about it in a cold and rational way, which allows us a clearer and more sensible judgment of how we acted and how things turned out.