OSU EHS Safety Training -Handouts Getting Past Anger
Isn't Anger Good for You?

No. On the contrary, people who are habitually angry often suffer some unpleasant - or even harmful - side effects," especially if anger is held in and not dealt with in positive ways:

  • Anger short-circuits your reasoning powers. Whether you "fly off the handle" or repress your rage, your anger can compound an already unstable situation. You may hurt someone, even emotionally, who was formerly not involved with your anger- causing problem.
  • If you already suffer from high blood pressure, unresolved anger can push it dangerously higher.
  • Denial or suppression of your anger can lead to low self-esteem. You may feel embarrassed by a lack of control or feel anger is inappropriate in a "civilized society."
  • Blaming others for your anger can drive away friends or potential friends, putting you in a very lonely or depressing situation.
  • Anger may tempt you to avoid the problem by seeking comfort in unrelated and potentially unhealthy behaviors, such as bingeing on junk foods, drinking too much, smoking, using illegal drugs, or becoming a "couch potato".
  • Pent-up anger can also contribute to physical problems, such as headaches, ulcers, bowel problems, respiratory ills, skin flare-ups, lowered immunity to colds and other viruses, a constant feeling of tiredness and exhaustion, and heart attacks.

So How Do You Deal with Anger?

Anger is a natural emotion, a human response to threats to your safety, well-being, and happiness. Anger can even be useful if expressed effectively and creatively. Here are some tips for handling anger:

  • Recognise your anger. Don't try to cover it up or pretend it isn't there. Try to identify what it is you are angry about. The actual cause of your anger may not always be obvious or the most recent thing that happened to you. It may have happened yesterday or last week. Sometimes fatigue and lack of relaxation can make you tense and irritable. Or you may be genuinely angry at a person or about a situation. Try to focus precisely on what makes you feel angry, not on a general or pervasive situation.
  • Once you have identified the real cause of your anger, think about how to express it before you take action. Is there a way to handle the situation more effectively than blowing up? Can you communicate your feelings without blaming anybody or focusing on a "victim?"
  • Act constructively. Now that you've thought about it, decide if you can let the anger go. Be honest, but be loving and respectful to yourself and others. Perhaps you can channel your anger into "neutral territory", such as a 10 minute walk or excercise, some relaxation excercises or laughing at a joke.
  • If necessary, talk directly and assertively with the person who may be causing your anger and frustration, but without blaming or shaming the person. Talk it over with friends, family, and co-workers.
  • If you can't confront the source of your anger, vent it by letting yourself cry, punching on a pillow until you're exhausted, screaming at a mirror, or excercising. Don't use your car as a way to vent anger. When your emotions are raw, driving can be dangerous to yourself and to others.
  • Alcohol and other drugs may mask the feelings or anger, but they won't make them go away. And these substances have their own dangers.

Suppressing anger or other emotions can take a toll on our mental and physical health. By learning to recognize what makes us angry, and by learning appropriate ways to express our anger, we can protect ourselves from the harmful effects of pent-up anger.

1993 Parlay International