What to Do If You Have a Short Temper

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Anger is an emotion that nearly everyone will experience at some point in their lifetime. In fact, anger is a necessary emotion to feel because it acts as a form of protection from a possible threat.

However, if you find yourself developing telltale signs of rage frequently, you might have a short temper. Maybe you're frustrated at a server who got your order wrong, or at the car in front of you refusing to move quickly enough, or perhaps even losing it at your favorite sports team for blowing a lead—this may be pointing to something a little different, and more severe.

A short fuse is a trait not too many people will line up to possess. Beyond causing those around you to perpetually walk on eggshells to avoid igniting your temper, being quick to anger can negatively affect your physical and mental well-being.

Not sure if your emotions qualify as having a short temper? This article examines the common traits of people with short fuses and provides healthy coping strategies.

Signs of a Short Temper

There are many understandable ways in which you can express your anger. For example, shouting, squeezing nearby objects, and even crying can be a healthy way of expressing your annoyance. But where a short temper is on display, anger is usually seen in an almost primal state. When this occurs, the person might:

  • Become easily irritated
  • Experience shortness of breath when they're angry
  • Feel their vision go blurry when upset
  • Experience an increase in blood pressure during a blowout
  • Have a racing heartbeat when confronted with the source of anger

A short temper is usually witnessed with very little to no warning; it is an explosion of emotion. Sometimes, this emotion can cause embarrassment for the person who expressed anger.

How a Short Temper Affects Well-Being

If you are prone to unpredictable and out-of-control fits of anger, this behavior can leave you open to several social, physical, and even psychological issues. These difficulties can manifest in the following ways.

Social and Relationship Issues

When you have a short temper, everything from someone cutting in front of you at your favorite coffee shop or a subordinate delivering work late can set you off. While these are understandable reasons to get upset, it’s equally understandable that people may single you out and warn others about interacting too freely with you to avoid being on the receiving end of an angry reaction.

If your anger manifests in public establishments, you might be banned from returning.

Another sign that your anger has become a problem is noticing that people tend to walk on eggshells around you. If, after a few violent outbursts, you notice that your friends, peers, or colleagues choose their words carefully and appear to be on edge when interacting with you, this could be because they are afraid of triggering your anger.

Because people are so wary of your temper, you may be denied the chance to experience your loved ones fully and unreservedly. 

Physical Health Issues

Heavy breathing, flushed skin, and pulsing veins are only some of the visible ways anger manifests itself. But, while all that is happening on the outside, your expression of anger might also lead to a wide range of physical health issues.

Heightened Blood Pressure

If you frequently feel angry, you may eventually be left in a state where your blood pressure is perpetually raised. In fact, anger is so effective at raising blood pressure. It can even hinder the work your body does to lower your blood pressure as you sleep.

Moreover, it isn’t just your blood pressure that's at risk if you're angry often. Because anger can cause an excessive increase in the production of catecholamines and corticosteroids, which affect the body’s stress response, frequent feelings of anger can cause disorders in the heart's rhythm and issues with blood vessels. These effects are responsible for the common links between anger and coronary heart disease.

Anger Can Lead to Poor Health Choices

Too much anger can also impact your lifestyle. If anger is a major feature in your lifestyle, other negative traits have been proven to follow.

Perhaps in an attempt to calm the nerves after a blowup, or out of the guilt of yet again losing your temper— studies have shown that anger can encourage unhealthy lifestyles like smoking, consuming excess caffeine, eating high-calorie foods, or consuming copious amounts of alcohol.

Anger May Be a Risk Factor for Bulimia

Anger can also increase the risk of developing bulimia. Unhealthy role models, a distorted image of the body, and family members with the condition are known causes of bulimia. However, there is an increased chance of developing this eating disorder if someone frequently expresses anger.

The negative feelings derived from anger can be traced to the need to binge eat and vomit afterward. This link is higher in people with more impulsive traits.

Road Accidents Have Been Linked to Anger Issues

It’s normal to get upset at reckless driving or question slow drivers determined to add a whole hour to your commute. When caution isn’t exercised at the emotions we feel towards other road users, it can lead to devastating outcomes.

If you frequently experience road rage, studies have shown that a relationship exists between this behavior and road accidents.

This may happen because you’re too focused on your feelings, leading to poor concentration while driving. In some cases, anger can cause a loss of vehicle control, causing accidents. 

Psychological Issues

The popular face of depression is often sadness, tiredness, and a lack of interest in things previously enjoyed. However, depression may also materialize in angry eruptions and persistent feelings of anger. Angry traits are commonly found in people suffering from major depressive disorder.

Anger May Lead to Anxiety
If you live with anxiety, then you’re probably familiar with the uncomfortable sweating, trembling, rapid breathing, etc., that tends to occur with this condition. However, if, in addition to anxiety, you constantly find yourself losing your temper due to minor and major events, there’s a possibility that anger and anxiety are linked. 

Studies have shown that intense and frequent feelings of anger are known associates of the physical symptoms of anxiety.

How to Cope With Anger

Anger might seem unappealing after learning of the potential dangers it poses to your physical, social, and mental health, but this emotion is a necessary part of your well-being.

As with joy and sadness, expressing anger over a broken promise, a lost opportunity, or other inconvenience is completely healthy and should be encouraged.

However, if anger is frequently expressed, it can prove to be harmful for many reasons. Learning to cope with this emotion then becomes important. So let's take a look at some ways you can manage your anger.

Try Positive Exercises

When you feel the unmistakable signs of your anger building up, try to focus on positive practices like deep breathing to calm yourself down. Supporting your breathing with soothing words can also contribute to reigning your anger in.

Repeating this exercise until your anger is subdued can help to prevent an outburst, as well as the negative outcomes that accompany it.

Reach Out to Loved Ones

Just as you would open up to loved ones over the pain of heartbreak or the joy of a promotion—calling loved ones when you’re about to lose control of your temper is a healthy way of coping with the emotion.

Your friends and family can act as a support group, calming you until the worst is over.

Keep a Mood Journal

A recommended way to cope with anger and recognize how frequently you embrace this emotion is by keeping a journal to track your emotions.

Note the triggers that push you to outbursts, as well as the thoughts that run through your mind when this happens to understand your feelings better.

See a Therapist

If you feel that your emotions are too strong and volatile to be contained through self-help, seeking professional guidance is always a welcome way to get things under control.

A licensed mental health professional can help you recognize and control the negative thoughts that may spur an angry outburst. Through therapy, you may also learn different ways to respond to triggers more healthily.

For more tips on managing anger check out our guide on anger management strategies to calm you quickly.

A Word From Verywell

Under normal circumstances, anger is a normal and healthy emotion. However, where this emotion is a prominent feature of your life, to the extent that it leads people to act carefully around you to prevent an outburst, that could be an issue.

While anger can be a powerful emotion, it is manageable. Using breathing techniques, seeking support from loved ones, and going to therapy can help keep your anger under control.

Remember, the goal isn't to eliminate anger from your life but to prevent it from becoming the defining status of your well-being. Diligently observing the management practices can help you get this emotion under control.

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5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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