Is the state of your body making you Angry?
It’s so easy to blame the world around you and everything you perceive as wrong to be the cause of your anger. But is it really? When it comes to anger, the problem is never the world, it’s always within. I know that when I start to get irritated, the problem lies in my own body. It’s a clue that I need to address something within myself!
Do you find yourself constantly irritable and perhaps ruining the relationships around you? Have you tried sitting and trying to breathe deeply only to come out later and scream at someone? Have you been to a meditation session only to find all the irritation that you’ve suppressed in a relationship bursting out? Find out all about the physiology of anger.
Everyone talks about dealing with anger through meditation, counting numbers, breathing deeply, prayer or yoga, but why are some people constantly angry? While all these practices can be one way to try and deal with anger, momentarily or constantly, they are again only that one magical way we try and deal with this. What can cause anger in someone historically and is there a physiological reason or reasons for anger? In this month’s series Psychology of our Physiology, we explore the root causes of anger, even before we can come to the protocols to deal with it.
Before we get to the more heady parts of this exploration, we’ll get to the absolute root, the gut. If you’ve read the article on the gut-brain connection in April, you’re already aware that the gut is the second brain. Without even going into the depth of research available, personally we know that when our gut is a mess, our mind is a flurry of negative emotions, and when we get angry and eat, we end up messing up our digestion. This is the reason that texts of the ancient spoke about not eating when angry.
Blood sugar balance, which is so elusive today in an age of fad diets and processed food, is the root of anger. Without bringing our blood sugar into a state of balance, we cannot even hope to calm our anger. Further, let’s not forget hormones and how they behave in our body. When hormones surge and crash, rather than gently rise and fall, our inability to control our outbursts of anger are magnified. In order for our hormones to be calm, we require deep work in blood sugar balance, reducing chronic inflammation and improving our ability to detoxify. And these are just a starting point!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, your liver is the root of anger. Anger, resentment, frustration, irritability, bitterness, and irrationally flying off the handle are all related to a congested liver. Irritability and inappropriate anger, are just signs that your liver needs some tender loving care! In the world we live in, which is already so high in stress, can we afford to keep losing our temper and ruining relationships? Not at all! Always remind yourself that the problem isn’t the world, but that it lies within your own body’s physiology!
The trans fats from processed food can make our brain slow, rigid and angry. One McDonalds burger can contain as much as 66% fat! This can take many hours to leave our stomach, making us sluggish and angry. Yet, a low fat diet can also be harmful, with our brain requiring fat to function.
Next, let’s talk about inflammation. When we are eating inflammatory foods repeatedly, and stay in a state of chronic inflammation, we stay in a state of heat, redness, swelling or pain. Those with constant angry outbursts have been found to have elevated inflammatory markers. And those who are physiologically in a state of inflammation, have been found to have frequent angry outbursts. So just like the gut-brain bidirectional avenue, anger and inflammation are bidirectional.
In a society that is living primarily in a Sympathetic Nervous System functioning state, or the fight or flight response, our heart rate is historically elevated. Much of this is contributed by a culture that either never exercises or over exercises without adequate recovery. By being in a constant state of fight or flight, we keep our heart rate elevated, our pupils dilate, our breathe becomes rapid and our Adrenal glands secrete Epinephrine and Norepinephrine, also known as Adrenaline. This inhibits digestion, impacts our sleep, and with poor sleep, our brain does not have time for recovery. When we are are angry, we secrete more Adrenaline, and when we are constantly secreting Adrenaline, we stay angry.
Further, deficiencies can place tremendous stress on us both physiologically and psychologically. If due to any kind of a restrictive diet, we induce deficiencies upon ourselves, or if due to illness, surgery or travel, we end up putting ourselves in a state of a deficiency, we can make our system inflamed and agitated, leading to more anger. A deficiency of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, can put a strain on our brain, and lead to brain inflammation. Omega 3 is required for getting blood supply to the brain and for production and transmission of our neurotransmitters.
In terms of our brain, the emotional centre of our brain is the Limbic system, and is located lower. In anger, we are not using our thinking part of the brain, but the Limbic part. The Limbic system includes the Olfactory bulb, the Amygdala, which influences behaviour appropriate to the body’s need and associated with aggression, the Hippocampus and the Para Hippocampus. We don’t need to remember all of this, but we do need to make a note that anger does not come from a thinking part of the brain, that the brain can have inflammation, and that the health of the brain is crucial to how we get angry.
Finally sleep is a major factor, as with anything else. Lack of sleep, which itself can contribute to further Adrenaline release and brain inflammation, must be addressed. Keeping our brain active with constant learning can help the brain to fire neutrons. Laughter can decrease overall inflammation and induce the release of neurohormones for happiness. And to conclude, anger can truly be a symptom of physiology. We can definitely breathe, meditate, do some yoga, pray and laugh, but we do need to get to the root of the cause. The root cause or causes is truly bioindividual. Watching, observing and tracking can help get to the root. Then we can take better control by addressing specific physiological factors for better sustainable change
Psychology of our physiology looks deep within the space of the mind that exists in our body, and how we can deeply create powerful change using the principles and practices of Functional Nutrition.
People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.
Finding an affirmation that works for you personally is a powerful tool for your health and how you can recover from all chronic health challenges and release that anger. It need not be prayer. If it is a prayer which is a crutch for you personally, then that’s great. If not try this affirmation…
“I allow myself the understanding to recover from any challenges of health and release any anger towards anyone or towards myself”
This is a prayer to you. To your physiology. To releasing your anger.
So nurture yourself. Understand the psychology of your anger. Know that anger can have physiological roots. Recover physiologically and let go.