There’s no doubt: anger takes its toll on every facet of our lives. From on the job, to our personal relationships, to our health and overall enjoyment of life, destructive anger can wreak havoc in our daily lives.

On the job it cost businesses over $4.2 billion, yes -billion, a year. Fighting at work, time spent trying to get along, lost productivity, sick days – it all adds up. In society, anger leads to physical altercations, destruction of personal property, road rage, and murder. Those found guilty of violent crimes may end up incarcerated, costing taxpayers millions of dollars per year. In marriages, one third of all women report being abused verbally or physically. Couples fight and end up in divorce court. Children caught in the crossfire are at risk for self-destructive behaviors as children and adults. More than 50% of families in the US are estranged from a loved one. Anger can lead to resentment, jealousy, revenge, and more. The collective price tag is staggering!

Anger has also been directly linked to health issues as well. Frequent high levels of anger can lead to heart disease due to a rise in adrenaline and cortisol. Heart rate and breathing increases, blood vessels constrict, and blood pressure elevates. This can lead to a build-up of fatty plaque in the arteries and damage artery walls. Additionally, anger can lead to headaches, digestive imbalances, insomnia, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, skin problems, heart attacks, pulmonary disease, blood clots to the heart, and stroke.  According to world-renowned medical doctor, Dr. Bernie Siegel, anger can also lead to cancer. In my case, my anger manifest first as an eating disorder then later in the form of bladder and kidney problems, both of which involved surgery.

But anger itself is not the issue. Anger serves a very necessary and useful purpose. In many cases it alerts us to the fact that something is wrong: an injustice is occurring, there may be an imbalance of power, an unfairness, or someone may be at risk for injury. Once the message is received, it is imperative to divert our attention to appropriately expressing it (if necessary) and to finding a possible solution. If an issue cannot be resolved at that moment or in the manner in which we choose, then putting our energy into accepting the situation as it is and finding a way to minimize it’s negative effect on us is a productive use of our time and energy. Finding some benefit in our circumstances can also help to alleviate any residual anger we may be experiencing.

Keep in mind that negative emotions can have devastating consequences on every aspect of our lives. Maintain a positive attitude, talk things out, seek reasonable solutions, keep everything in perspective,  forgive those who have wronged you, and practice peace rituals daily. In that way you can minimize any harmful effects of anger while maximizing your enjoyment and success in life.