Feeling pandemic frustration, anger or rage?

November 19, 2021 | by Jacqueline Sierzega, PsyD
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

This blog was originally posted in 2021. Some information may be out of date. For the latest updates on vaccines, testing, screening, visitor policy and post-COVID support, visit EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

Little did we know how much the COVID-19 pandemic would change our lives when it first began. Dealing with a global pandemic hasn’t been easy, and we’re all feeling the effects as we cope with the threat of illness and a constant state of stress. And while the rollout of vaccines provided relief and hope, the variants circulating put us back on alert.

What’s worse, COVID restrictions have interfered with our healthy outlets for stress, such as socializing with friends, and has led to pent-up tension and lashing out.

As the pandemic drags on, regular outbursts of anger are becoming the norm. Maybe you’re in your car and another driver slams their horn at you in a fit of road rage. You could be at the grocery store and witness one shopper snapping at another for not moving their cart out of the way fast enough.

COVID-induced fights are breaking out on social media, at school board meetings, even at your own family dinner table. Some are angry at those who won’t get vaccinated. Others are angry that they are still being told to wear a mask. Many aren’t even sure why they are angry.

Anger, frustration and rage attacks (sudden, out-of-control and unwarranted outbursts) are a common reaction to stress, and COVID has certainly raised stress levels for everyone. You too may have a shorter fuse than usual these days. You may get easily irritated or angry in ways that are not typical for you.

How can you manage your feelings in healthy ways? Try these strategies to help you cope with pandemic frustration, anger or rage:

  1. Step away for a few minutes. Changing your surroundings by going into the next room or stepping outside, even just for a few minutes, can help you get your emotions under control. Take a moment to pause, take a calming breath and ground yourself.

  2. Check in with yourself. Notice how you’re feeling and acknowledge that feelings of frustration are a normal reaction to stress. Refocus your energy on doing something productive, such as house chores like vacuuming, laundry or dishes.

  3. Try high-energy exercise. Physical activity is a great way to let frustrations out and release anger in a healthy way. Try rigorous exercise, like going for a brisk walk, running, cycling, swimming or boxing.

  4. Practice self-care. Prioritize a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding bad habits such as smoking, drugs or alcohol. Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness or yoga to relieve stress.

  5. Be creative. Drawing, painting and journaling can help you express your feelings and calm down. Write your angry thoughts on paper, then tear it up. You could also channel your feelings through music, singing or dancing.

  6. Yell out loud. Go somewhere private and yell out loud (scream into a pillow or in your car). It may sound silly, but it can relieve stress.

  7. Practice gratitude and empathy. Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help heal anger. Also, when you find yourself getting angry at someone, try to remember that everyone struggles in their own way.

  8. Share with others. Social connections are critical to overall well-being. Sharing your feelings with family and friends is a great way to manage your anger.

  9. Monitor your news intake. Too much news and social media use about COVID can increase feelings of frustration. Limit your intake each day.

  10. Seek help from a professional. If your anger becomes overwhelming or feels unmanageable, a behavioral health therapist can help you process difficult emotions and learn healthy coping techniques.

If you or someone you know is suffering from frequent anger outbursts or worsening anger symptoms, help is available. Reach out to one of our clinicians at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health or call 630-305-5027 for a free behavioral health assessment.

Are you at risk for anxiety? Take our free, online AnxietyAware risk assessment.

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