Stress and lack of control over COVID-19 is causing many emotions—including anger. One of the most common ways to deal with anger about something we can’t control is to fall back on anger displacement: taking out our emotions about one thing on something or someone else. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most destructive ways of dealing with anger. You can avoid falling into the trap of anger displacement by using these tools:
Ask yourself some questions to figure out exactly what you’re angry about:
• What are you feeling? Anger runs the gamut from mild irritation to outright rage. Is the level of anger you’re feeling proportionate to the experience, or are you feeling more frustrated than the situation warrants?
• What are you angry about? Are you angry that your partner went over-budget on groceries, that your boss is being hard on you, or that the government isn’t responding to this crisis in the way you’d like? Figure out what exactly it is that you’re angry about so you can avoid taking it out on someone or something that has nothing to do with the situation.
• Why are you angry? If you’re angry that your partner went over-budget on the groceries, ask yourself why. Is the root cause of your anger actually worry about finances? Digging down the root of the matter can give you clarity and help you problem-solve the real issue.
Write it Down
Writing things down can put them in perspective. When you feel angry, write down exactly what you’re feeling, make a list of what you’re angry about, or write a letter to the person or situation that your anger is directed towards. Don’t send it. The act of writing is simply to give you an outlet for your emotions.
Physical movement allows you to work out pent-up emotions, provides a distraction from anger, and boosts your mood. Channeling your anger into something productive like exercise is a healthy way of harnessing your emotions and making them work for you.
Take a Timeout
Give yourself some space and take 15 minutes to be alone and cool down. Taking a step back from the situation can help you to see it more clearly, and giving yourself time to think can help you to deal with your anger in a more calm and reasonable way.
Anger is a natural emotion during this stressful time, but it doesn’t have to control you, or hurt your relationship with others. By taking charge of your emotions and avoiding anger displacement, you can develop greater self-control and handle your anger in ways that can boost your mental health.