Why is anger unhealthy and how can it be prevented?

Photo by Andrea Marie Tan
Photo by Andrea Marie Tan

Students feel a variety of emotions throughout the semester. From disappointing exam results to frustrating lines at Subway, university provides an endless supply of frustrating situations that fuel anger. As we’ve all been told millions of times “it’s unhealthy to bottle up anger.” But why is this the case and how can it be avoided?

Anger is like a can of Coke—shake it enough and the littlest crack can cause it to explode. One study from the University of North Carolina found that those who frequently lose their temper were three times more likely to have heart attacks. This study was highly controlled for variables such as blood pressure and other health factors, so the connection between anger and medical disaster is apparent.

However, not all university students are quick to anger. But, unfortunately, we are still at risk for health issues thanks to our insane schedules and competing needs. A study from 2018 found that a lack of sleep intensifies anger, which subsequently impairs our adaptability to circumstances that are frustrating. Thanks to the additional sleep deprivation that occurs during the semester, our ability to forgive that lazy person in the group project or that jerk who stole your parking spot becomes significantly impaired. This results in an exaggerated anger response compared to our patience and mental flexibility during the summer months.

We are a tuition-paying hoard of angry, sleep-deprived creatures. So how can this mob begin to release anger in a healthy way? Here is a list of five activities around Kelowna that can help to reduce anger:

1. Throwing axes

Axe Monkeys in Kelowna is located a mere five minutes from campus. For a fair price, you can spend a couple hours throwing axes at a wooden target. Throwing things when you’re angry can help to redirect physical intensity into a form that is safe and impactful.

2. Jumping into a giant foam pit

Make your dreams of sprinting as fast as you can and jumping into a giant foam pit a reality at the Okanagan Gymnastics Centre. Every Saturday night from 7:30-9:30 PM is adult drop in—no experience required! Sometimes just being a kid again can help to release all that bottled up tension from adulting.

3. Running around in a field of dogs

This may sound too magical to be true, but in fact one of the most overlooked free activities in Kelowna is a simple visit to the Dog Park. With loneliness as a major trigger for anger, gaining social interaction with a fuzzy friend can lead to profound stress reduction.

4. Riding a mechanical bull

Thursday nights at the OK Corral provide an excellent opportunity to throw on a cowboy hat and ride the mechanical bull. One leading instigator of anger is feeling a lack of control. By taking charge of the situation and showing the bull who’s boss, the return of power and control can help to reduce irritability and stress.

5. Shooting lasers at random people

Planet Lazer is a classic Kelowna staple for the ultimate laser tag experience. While it can be fun to go with a large group of friends, going alone and sneakily attacking the group of six-year-olds celebrating a birthday party or the couple trying to have a cute date can be highly amusing. The focus and precision required from laser tag can help to calm the mind down and lower anger levels.

Life can be an incredibly frustrating journey filled with stress and anger. While university students are particularly vulnerable to bottled-up anger and the associated health detriments, the world provides great opportunity to help reduce anger and stress. Next time you’re feeling angry, try one of the activities above – it may help to improve your health!