How to Control Your Anger With These Apps
Releasing steam in the pandemic is more critical than ever
Anger is repressed hurt and people are hurting right now.- Cali Estes, psychologist and founder of the Miami, Florida-based Addictions Academy.
You have an immune-compromised loved one at home yet you see people on social media belittling or politicizing mask-wearing.
You’re a parent who’s forced to work from home while somehow refereeing your kids’ spats and helping them with their virtual schooling.
You still can’t get the unemployment benefits that you applied for months ago.
There are more than plenty of reasons to be angry during the coronavirus pandemic, but mental health experts say there are far better things you can do with that anger than erupting at someone, as satisfying as that might immediately feel.
“Anger is repressed hurt and people are hurting right now,” says Cali Estes, psychologist and founder of the Miami, Florida-based Addictions Academy. “They are scared, anxious, and wondering when it will all end.”
Estes says the first thing people should do is try to relax. Being in a constant state of anger elevates cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. We’ve evolved to need cortisol, as it motivates us to fight or flee when we feel threatened. But too much of it ages us prematurely and lowers our immunity, leaving us susceptible to illness.
With that being said, Estes says it’s important to realize what’s beyond our control at this time.
“We have been fear mongered into the 'telling on your neighbor', 'masking for your neighbor,’ and been forced to wear a mask to 'protect others,’” Estes says. “Suddenly our job is (to) protect our neighbor from the virus but turn them in for noncompliance. This creates anger, resentment, and confusion.”
That “fight or flight” response indeed takes a toll on the body, agrees Patrick Wanis, a behavior expert and creator of Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique therapy.
“It exhausts the adrenal glands, it creates oxidative stress, ages the body, and can kill you,” Wanis says. “Anger is catabolic and destroys your body. Recognize that this is a highly stressful and challenging time with confusion, uncertainty, major losses, and fear – don’t worsen your mental, physical and emotional health by getting angry when it won’t actually change anything.”
Wanis says many people feel helpless and powerless during this time, and so they respond with anger and frustration. Others are angry and looking for someone to blame for this entire mess.
Outlets Have Disappeared
Adding to the sense of injustice many people feel because of the pandemic has been the loss of outlets to blow off steam, such as yoga classes or happy hours with friends, says Baltimore, Maryland-based therapist Heather Lyons.
“Many of us are in a transition period where we're still trying to figure out new ways to get our needs met,” says Lyons. “This moment takes a good deal of creativity and motivation to build up patience and keep the anger at bay.”
Lyons says “self-care” time is critical these days, and we should intentionally schedule it in our calendars.
Quotes, Exercise, Empathy
There are also helpful mobile apps, such as developer Sumit Kataria's "Anger Management Quotes," a collection of motivational quotes. This app is free to download and offers daily quotes that you can benefit from yourself or share with friends on social media.
Estes recommends getting physical. Exercise, such as squats, or go for mind-clearing nature walks, activities that help boost dopamine, the brain’s “happy chemical.”
“Breathe,” Estes says. “Count to 10 before you scream, yell, or become the 'Karen' you see on Facebook. Everyone is doing their best. Keep that in mind if you have a different viewpoint or see something you disagree with. Remember, the world does not revolve around you.”
I have worked as a reporter at daily newspapers for 25 years, and now cover local government and politics at The South Bend (IN) Tribune. I was honored in 2019 to win the Hoosier State Press Association's Ray Moscowitz Award,which recognizes those who foster advancement of the First Amendment, for my reporting on mismanagement at the city's mass transit agency.
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