Can Anger Affect Asthma?

The short answer, yes.

Anger is one of the most common emotions experienced.  Like most emotions, it can trigger or aggravate an asthmatic episode. It is a response to anything causing physical or mental pain. It may be produced by our own shortcomings, frustrations and what we perceive as injustices. It can be inspired by people and events and is often accompanied by fear.

Whatever the cause, anger is often damaging physically, emotionally, socially and economically. It is displayed vociferously with gesticulations, physical assault and rash acts such as rash driving, slamming doors or smashing objects.

The problem with anger is that it is damaging whether expressed or suppressed. While expressed anger may harm relationships, which in turn has consequences, suppressed anger results in bad health. Stored anger leads to stress, depression, high blood pressure, ulcers, sleep problems, heart attacks and stroke. Some people are quick to express anger, only to regret their outburst later! That too is damaging in the long run.

So what can you do?

To reduce the damaging effects it is important to know how to deal with anger safely and effectively. Aristotle put it very neatly all those years ago: Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and the right way – this is not easy. (The Nicomachean Ethics.)

The following four things help manage anger.

  • Accept that you are angry. It is a normal emotion, and indicates a need to get something right.
  • Recognise that you are heading to a confrontation. But don’t let that make you push people where they can’t escape without loss of face.
  • Let it out, don’t suppress it. Don’t make it a noisy expression of your unhappiness, verbal abuse, physical assault or cause damage. Instead make specific, powerful complaints expressing your position and feelings, highlighting what has made you upset. Suggest a remedy also, and be open to counter offers.
  • Release physical energy by exercising, hitting a punching bag, playing squash, smashing a ball, doing aerobics, dancing or going for a run.

To do this you have to decide how you are going to manage anger before becoming angry next time. Learn to use it as a tool, for it is a frustration that makes you angry and that you want remedied in the first place.

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