Counselor Shares The 5 Physically Uncomfortable Signs Your Body Is Holding On To Anger

Locating your anger is the first step to letting it go.

woman sitting on couch holding her head fizkes / Shutterstock 

Anger is never an easy emotion to let yourself feel. It can be overwhelming to be angry, as though you’re not quite in control of your body or mind. 

Yet ignoring anger doesn’t make it go away; instead, it grows stronger, all while you try to pretend it’s not really there.

Rebecca Ballagh, a counselor and coach, uses social media to provide techniques that help people process their emotions, rewire their overactive nervous systems, and calm their racing minds. She explained how anger can lead to physical maladies that you might not realize are actually connected to your emotional state.


Here are 5 physically uncomfortable signs your body is holding on to anger: 

1. Clenching your jaw

Jaw clenching can be a sign of general stress and also unresolved anger.

Inner frustration causes our body to tense up. We often find this tension is kept in our shoulders, neck, or upper back, but the feeling of being tightly wound can also transfer to how we hold our mouths. 

man with jaw pain Photo: Konstantin Postumitenko / Canva Pro


RELATED: 5 Quiet Things To Do When You're Angry — That Could Literally Save Your Relationship

In addition to a clenched jaw, anger can lead to teeth grinding, as well. 

Clenching your jaw can also be a sign that you’re a people pleaser: you’re keeping your mouth shut and not expressing your true feelings, needs, or boundaries to others.

Ballagh offered a somatic exercise called isometric muscle relaxation that can help relieve jaw tension. Inhale and hold your breath while squeezing the muscles in your face. Hold this pose for 7 seconds, then release and exhale. 



2. Stubbing your toes often

Holding onto distress can lead to increased clumsiness. So, if you find yourself banging your elbow, stubbing your toes, or knocking into corners, you might need to find some form of release.


Having chronically tensed muscles has a direct effect on your coordination and your body’s awareness of itself in space. When your feet and legs, especially, are tense, your balance can get thrown off easily, meaning you’re more likely to trip and hurt yourself.

It can be easy to ignore the smaller signs of being angry, like stubbing your toes. It's also easy to shove anger under the rug, telling yourself that you don't actually feel angry. Paying attention to what's going on in your body is a valuable way to stay checked in with yourself.

RELATED: 3 Sneaky Signs Anger Has Taken Over Your Life (& You Don't Even Realize It)

3. Memory trouble

Experiencing acute forgetfulness occurs when your body’s cognitive resources are diverted to deal with unexpressed anger. 


So much of your brain power is going toward trying to tamp down your feelings, meaning your mind has less space and ability to remember important information. 

You might also find it hard to focus on the task at hand, as your concentration is being directed to your underlying anger.

Counselor Shares The 5 Physically Uncomfortable Signs Your Body Is Holding On To Anger Photo: Ground Picture / Shutterstock 


4. You wake up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.

The liver is the body part associated with anger, and it’s most active between 1 and 3 a.m. If you find yourself waking up for no apparent reason right before dawn breaks, it could be because you have unresolved anger. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the five viscera within the body are associated with various emotions: Happiness is tied to the heart, thoughtfulness to the heart and spleen, sadness to the heart and lungs, fear to the heart and kidneys, anxiety to the heart and lungs, and anger to the liver.

The intensity of any anger you retain could lead to symptomatic problems with your liver. 

Counselor Shares The 5 Physically Uncomfortable Signs Your Body Is Holding On To Anger Photo:t Roman Chazov / Shutterstock 


5. You get chronic headaches and stomach aches

Your anger can manifest itself as physical pain, often taking the form of a pounding headache. 

Another way your anger expresses itself somatically is through your stomach. Our digestive systems are extra sensitive, especially to emotional distress. Repressing your anger can lead to stomach pain, nausea, or just general discomfort in your gut.

Learning different ways to release your anger in a healthy, controlled way can help you feel better.




Paying attention to the messages your body is sending you is the first step to processing more complex emotions.

Remember that you’re allowed to feel big feelings, including anger. Learning how to locate and name your anger is an important part of letting it go.

RELATED: For Anyone Whose Anger Controls Their Life


Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.