First: What’s going on in the angry brain?
When we get mad, our brain’s more rational prefrontal lobes shut down, and its reﬂexive back areas take over. Hormonal and cardiovascular responses kick in.
We pump out cholesterol and a group of chemicals called catecholamines, which encourage fatty deposits to pile up in the heart and carotid arteries. It’s no surprise, then, that angry people are three times more likely to have a heart attack than those less prone to fury. The ﬁght-or-ﬂight response can prompt your nervous system to cut blood ﬂow to your stomach and divert it to your muscles, impacting digestion secretions. Stress can also increase stomach acids.
And anger causes a surge in the stress hormone cortisol, which bumps up oil production and leads to acne and other skin problems. During prolonged and frequent eruptions of rage, parts of the nervous system become highly activated, which can affect our immune systems over time. So, how can we avoid all this?
1. Retrain your brain.
Cognitive restructuring, or “thought stopping,” involves challenging your take on anger-inducing scenarios and reevaluating irrational beliefs.