The connection between our mind and body isn’t a new concept. By now, we all know our emotions can have an impact on us physically. However, recent research has revealed that anger, in particular, can negatively impact several key aspects of our health — especially as we age.
If you’ve found yourself yelling at other drivers in traffic or constantly frustrated with your spouse (we’ve all been there), it’s time to listen up. The study, conducted by the American Psychological Association, set out to determine whether “negative” emotions had an impact on a person’s health. Researchers asked a group of adults, ages 59 to 93, to report their feelings of anger and sadness daily, after which they tested their levels of inflammation. To the researcher’s surprise, harboring anger was more detrimental to overall health than being sad. Those who experienced anger during their day-to-day had increased levels of inflammation and higher risk of chronic disease.
What’s more, the study indicated that this rang true especially for adults over the age of 80. Researchers suggest this could be because a younger senior might feel more in control of their situation and are more empowered to take action, whereas an older senior may feel more helpless.
This research suggests that as we age, it becomes increasingly important to not let bad feelings linger undealt with. It’s best to have coping mechanisms in place for the inevitable feelings of helplessness and frustration that can come with getting older. If you find yourself often dealing with feelings of anger, there are a number of ways to handle them effectively, instead of suppressing them and moving on.
The Mayo Clinic suggests using humor to diffuse your anger, getting some exercise, and practicing relaxation skills like yoga or meditation to tame unwanted feelings. Of course, speaking with a professional or a loved one about why you are feeling angry always helps. But if you’re someone who generally has trouble talking about your feelings, techniques like journaling and quiet reflection can be especially helpful. For some other stress-management techniques, check out this list!