8 Ways To Effectively Let Go Of Anger For Abundant Whole Body Health

14 min read JUN 19, 2023

Headaches, high blood pressure, skin problems, and digestive distress. Can these really be experienced as a result of immediate instances and long-harbored feelings of anger?

Yes! And even worse, these adverse health symptoms can become severe, leading to multiple troubling effects when we can’t, won’t, or don’t let go of anger.

Contrarily speaking, when we do let go of anger, we can experience reduced stress and anxiety, healthier relationships, our immune system is strengthened, our self-esteem improves, and much more.

So, today let’s fully examine how anger-inducing circumstances, big and small, can cause a cascade of adverse bodily reactions which diminish our overall health and wellbeing, as well as how letting go of this gripping emotion can reap a variety of healthy rewards.

Of course, we’ll include some healthy ways to effectively let go of anger too. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and let’s tackle this overwhelming emotion together.

How Does Anger Affect Your Health?

The American Psychological Association defines anger as “an emotion characterized by antagonism (hostility, opposition) toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.”

We’ve all been there, from occurrences as simple as rabbits eating every last flower you planted, to more serious instances such as offenses which harm you or your loved ones physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

No matter how big or small an issue may be, feelings of anger can arise in any given situation, and if we don’t properly deal with this emotion our health can suffer.

And, while I wholeheartedly realize instances of anger often stem from heavy situations, those with which all of us are no doubt familiar, to keep things light for our purposes here today in illustrating the effects of anger, let’s take a quick look at how my own health was hindered all because of some cute (seriously, so cute) bunnies.

Last spring, after my careful selection and happy chore of planting flowers all around my property, I quickly noticed, as in the first evening, the presence of cute little rabbits in my yard.

Within days, these rabbits descended upon my newly planted flowers in smorgasbord fashion, devouring the breathtaking blooms night after night.

I lost sleep researching ways to naturally deter the rabbits. And, after I tried every natural (supposed) rabbit-deterrent, each without success, my frustration for these small animals grew.

On my walks through our neighborhood I even noticed house after house with similar flowers, each untouched by the local rabbit population.

And, before long, my frustration, unchecked, turned to anger eventually leading to the irrational notion that these “attacks” must be deliberate.

Now, while I didn’t go full-blown CaddyShack on my fluffy, cotton-tailed foes, for those of you laughing or rolling your eyes at my rabbit-aimed anger, may I ask: how many times have your frustrations in traffic turned to anger, even all out rage?

Or, on a more serious note, how many times have you been truly hurt, even horribly wronged, which led to feelings of anger that gripped your heart and mind to the point of experiencing adverse affects on your health.

If something as simple as traffic, or rabbits, can cause us to experience feelings of anger, how much more can holding on to this emotion, stemming from heavier issues, truly wreak havoc on the health of our bodies?

With my rabbit situation, I lost sleep, had headaches, and even began to feel anxious at the sight of these small creatures.

So then, what is actually going on inside our bodies when anger overcomes us that makes this emotion negatively affect our health?

The Onset Of Anger

When overwhelmed with anger your body first releases an abundance of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn lead to metabolic changes that can disrupt, even harm other body systems.

At the same time, your brain reacts to these feelings by instinctively preparing you for physical exertion. In doing so, it pulls blood away from your gut and sends it to your muscles.

Your body temperature also rises, along with other greater internal reactions such as:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased respiration

The Early Effects Of Anger

Then, after you’ve experienced these bodily responses to the emotion of anger, you may feel or experience any of the following as a result:

- Digestive distress: Due to a lack of blood in your gut which has been rerouted to your muscles, the early effects of anger may cause nausea, abdominal pain/discomfort, or other digestive concerns.

- Headache: As stress hormones surge and your blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature increases, you may experience painful headaches during or shortly after feelings of anger.

- Dizziness: When your breathing rate, blood pressure, and heart rate increase rapidly, you may notice that you feel lightheaded.

- Brain Fog: As your body releases a burst of hormones in response to anger, as well as those effects we mentioned above (respiration, heart rate, blood pressure), you may even feel confused or have difficulty remembering things when overcome with anger.

- Muscle Pain or Spasms: When your brain diverts blood from your gut to your muscles in instances of anger, this can cause muscle pain, cramping, or spasms.

The Long Term Effects Of Anger

Unfortunately, the immediate and early symptoms of your body dealing with anger begin to compound, leading to worse effects, when you harbor anger over a long period of time.

Headaches, for instance, may become chronic when dealing with anger on a regular basis.

Repeated increases in heart rate and blood pressure can lead to anxiety, or worsen the anxiety symptoms you’re already battling.

And, ultimately these effects can cause heart palpitations, tightness in the chest, even a stroke or heart attack when you hold on to anger long term.

As you deal with anger over a long period of time, the increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline can cause your immune system to weaken interfering with your body’s ability to heal itself leading to recurrent illness for some, and a greater susceptibility to disease in others.

Some studies have linked recurring instances of anger with a greater risk of depression.

Then, other research has found this same struggle with anger to increase the risk of respiratory problems, with some individuals experiencing significantly reduced lung capacity due to an increase in stress hormones which causes inflammation (here in your airways).

The increased amount of stress hormones in your body due to anger can also interfere with your body’s sleep cycles, leading to insomnia. And, lack of sleep can worsen inflammation, interfere with your body’s ability to heal itself, and eventually may contribute to weight gain, chronic disease (due to inflammation) and much more.

The long term effects of anger have even been linked to an overall shorter lifespan, making the need for letting go of anger and reducing stress quite urgent.

We’ll look at a whole range of ways you can effectively manage, control, or let go of anger in a moment, but first, take a look at what whole body health looks like when you truly let go of the gripping power of anger…

Letting Go Of Anger May Improve Your Health

Okay, I get it, obviously we’ve given you the bad news first when it comes to anger and its detrimental effects.

The good news is, when you release or let go of anger, you not only rid yourself of the unwanted symptoms we detailed above, but you can also improve your overall health.

Some of the physical effects of anger manifest themselves emotionally, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Letting go of anger and negativity, contrarily, can not only alleviate these effects, but it can also lead to feelings of contentment, happiness, and of course, reduced stress.

Releasing anger can also benefit your mental and emotional health by making you a more adaptable or flexible person as well as improving your self-esteem.

Physically speaking, when you let go of anger you:

  • improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promoting cardiovascular health
  • promote cognitive health, improving your memory, your ability to focus, and process information
  • strengthen your immune system, enabling your body to effectively fight off infection, disease, and simply keep you healthy
  • decrease or improve pain levels throughout your body
  • improve your quality of sleep, aiding your body in crucial repair and restoration processes that occur during deep sleep
  • may aid in weight loss or management efforts as releasing anger can regulate appetite changes and blood sugar fluctuations
  • improve the health of your skin as you reduce hormonal surges (which can lead to acne) and decrease facial muscle tension (which can lead to fine line and wrinkles)

Socially speaking, your relationships are also proven to be healthier when you practice letting go of anger as a way of life.

So then, how? How can you let go of anger, releasing this emotion’s unhealthy hold?

8 Ways To Let Go Of Anger

For me, I think of anger, in big and small instances, the same way I eventually saw my bunny conundrum.

First, my letting go of anger towards my woeful yard situation involved a bit of perspective. For instance, stopping to take a breath, refocus, and realize the truth of the situation. Here, that the rabbits certainly didn’t have it out for me.

And, in my case, this kind of rational thinking then led to more productive research, which in turn prompted a different selection of items to plant this spring such as the beautiful array of roses, lavender, liriope, vinca, irises, and sage that now bring me great joy all throughout the day as I gaze upon their delicate blooms.

I should also mention, I now receive equally as much stress-relieving enjoyment as I watch my cotton-tail visitors rest in the warm sun against the fence in my backyard.

How? Because, in this trivial situation, perspective, patience, (re)focus, and truth aided in my release of the anger I began to feel surrounding my circumstances.

And really, these concepts (and more) are how we can all effectively let go of anger in the numerous situations we encounter in our lives.

There are even direct and indirect ways we can combat this potentially unhealthy emotion, with some tactics being helpful to utilize in the midst of trying situations, while others involve ways to improve stress levels, mood, and health, allowing you to approach such occurrences with a stress-free, clear mind in the first place.


1- Perspective

When faced with frustrating, hurtful, or sad events that provoke us to anger, take a step back and see if you can view the situation from a different perspective.

In traffic, sure, being cut off or narrowly escaping a collision due to someone else’s seemingly reckless driving can definitely provoke anger. But, what if the other driver was racing to get a loved one to the hospital. Or, what if this person was ill?

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t necessarily excuse their behavior, but such perspective may prevent you from anger or help you release this emotion.

In more serious situations where you’ve been greatly wronged or hurt, perhaps perspective (for your own self) can alleviate some of the anger that may arise in such circumstances.

And, perspective can also involve regaining a proper sense of reality in the midst of anger.

As you evaluate the situation, think about whether or not you’re seeing the entire picture. How will the situation truly affect your life? Will this argument settle with some simple rest, revisiting the subject with a clear mind? Or, are you (or the offender) simply having a rough day?

Sometimes perspective involves viewing the situation entirely differently, sometimes it involves viewing the offender or offense in a different light, and sometimes this means viewing yourself differently.

Even finding humor in an otherwise angering situation can bring needed perspective, balance, and aid in releasing unhealthy anger.

2 - Time

This goes hand in hand with perspective, as sometimes the best way to view a situation, even avoiding anger altogether, is by taking a step back, a few moments away, to properly compose yourself, decompress, and come back to the situation with a renewed viewpoint.

When you take a few moments, or even as mentioned above, a night to sleep on the matter, you can often better process your anger, even formulating a plan for how to deal with the root of such emotions.

3- Deep Breathing or Meditation

Both deep breathing practices and meditation can not only help you to release anger, but they can also help you avoid allowing this emotion to control you in the first place.

These practices promote relaxation, they relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and reduce both your heart and breath rate, each of which can help you to let go of anger.

4- Visualization

When in the midst of an angering situation, visualize a more pleasant place and/or time.

Of course, you can practice deep breathing in this instance as well, but as you do, think of a pleasant or happy place (real or imaginary) where you can allow your mind, or your thoughts, to escape the situation long enough to regain composure.

Notice the details of your visualization: sights, sounds, etc. Then, dwell on this visual until your breathing slows, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal, and you feel completely relaxed, having fully let go of the present anger.

Similar to visualization, in such a scenario you can also internally recite helpful mantras such as: “take a moment,” “everything will be okay,” “slow down and breathe,” etc.

5- Forgiveness

Before allowing yourself to get angry, know your triggers, then proceed with grace for both you and any other party involved (if possible).

How can you do this?

Oftentimes the most effective diffusion of anger is forgiveness, and this occurs in two ways:

Forgive yourself. If you lose your cool, don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself needed grace, learn from the situation (this is where knowing your triggers comes in), release your anger, and move forward.

Forgive others. Depending on the circumstance, forgiving others who’ve hurt, harmed, or wronged you can be extremely difficult, I know.

But, whether the person deserves this forgiveness or not, by releasing any negative feelings, including anger, and forgiving an offender, you are making a conscious decision to not let that hurtful, anger-provoking event/situation control you (or negatively affect your health).

When you recognize what things regularly rob your peace, you can better approach such situations, giving yourself grace (and forgiveness).

And, when you consciously choose to forgive others, you not only release anger and resentment (thereby improving your health), you may also feel empathy, even compassion, for the offender, changing the situation entirely.


6 - Sleep

When you’re not getting enough sleep each night, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this can lead to moodiness and irritability. And, what happens when you’re irritable? Well, in my experience, when I don’t get enough sleep, this irritability leads to greater instances of anger.

Part of letting go of anger involves being able to better handle adverse situations in the first place. And, getting adequate, restful sleep can help greatly in this regard.

7- Exercise

One study in children found those who exercised regularly (particularly aerobic exercise) were less likely to poorly express anger, even preventing the expression of anger in some.

And, while we’re not saying you should suppress anger altogether, regularly incorporating exercise can help you to relieve and more appropriately deal with stress which can aid in properly expressing the emotion of anger.

In situations where you find yourself overcome with anger, you can also remove yourself from the situation and seek to move your body (go for a walk or practice yoga) where you can not only get your mind off the situation but effectively calm your body and relieve tension as well.

8- Proper Nutrition

Did you know there are certain foods (namely processed, artificial sugars and foods) that hinder your body’s ability to appropriately handle emotional situations due to the way these foods affect the needed balance of hormones in the body?

Contrarily, when we fuel our bodies with whole, nutritious foods, which contain healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, we better provide our body and our brain with the fuel it needs to manage emotions, including the release of anger.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Medium Roast.

Medical Disclaimer
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Charles Livingston nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Headshot of Becky Livingston Vance
Becky Livingston Vance Content writer

Becky is a mother, educator, and content writer for Lifeboost Coffee. She has had three years’ experience as a writer, and in that time she has enjoyed creatively composing articles and ebooks covering the topics of coffee, health and fitness, education, recipes, and relationships.


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