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How to manage your anger during lockdown

When spending all your time with the same people in the one place, it can be easy to get into arguments


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, you may find yourself spending most of your time with the one group of people such as your housemates, family or partner. Spending all your time with the same people can be difficult and you may find that they begin to annoy you more easily than normal and that fights arise more often. 

When living with someone else, it is important to be mindful of the other person’s needs as well as your own. Remember, if you are feeling anxious, bored or lonely the people you are living with are probably feeling that way also. So try and be patient with those you live with and support each other during these uncertain times.

If you are experiencing 'covid rage', arguing with others, or feeling angry during lockdown, there are things you can do to try and keep calm. 

How to handle lockdown arguments 

If you want to find ways to calm down in the moment when you feel yourself getting worked up, here are some things to try:

Count to ten

Many people have heard of the ‘count to ten’ method for controlling your anger. If you begin to feel angry or upset about something, take a moment and slowly count to ten, in your head or out loud, before you do anything else. This allows you the space to think of other ways to deal with the situation before you react.

Breathing

Taking slow, deep breaths helps to calm your nervous system down. Take a deep breath in and breathe out slowly, taking longer on your exhale than you did on your inhale. Do this a few times and notice what happens as you calm down.

Remove yourself

It might be necessary to remove yourself from whatever situation has made you angry or upset. Leaving the room and finding a quiet space to calm down will allow you to come back with a clearer head.

Sometimes it might not be possible to leave the room. If this is the case, ask if you can have some space while you take a moment to yourself to work out your thoughts. After taking some space you will begin to feel calmer and your thinking will become clearer.

Talk it out

If you are angry or upset with someone else, try to be as calm as possible when speaking to them about it. Try to listen to what they are saying so that both of you can work on solving the problem. Taking turns to listen to each other and repeating back what the other person has said can help to show that you are hearing them. When both people practice this it generally increases feelings of being understood, which reduces anger.

It also helps to speak to someone you trust about what’s making you angry, even if they have nothing to do with it. People often feel better after venting their frustrations, but remember to try and take steps to deal with whatever is bothering you once you’ve let it all out.

Helpful ways to release anger in the moment

Sometimes, letting some anger out in a safe and appropriate way can help. Different people feel anger in different parts of their bodies, for example your hands or your jaw. Allowing yourself to release some of this in a planned and non-harmful way may help.

This could include:

  • Squeezing a stress ball
  • Biting your clothes
  • Tearing paper
  • Punching a cushion

Learning to control your lockdown anger

While it’s good to have things you can do to calm yourself down when you get angry or upset, it’s important to work on some longer-term solutions to that you can manage situations better in the future. It’s better to get to the root of the problem, rather than only ever dealing with it when it comes up.

Learn to recognise the signs

The next time you get angry or upset about something, pay attention to what happens. Notice where your thoughts go, how fast your heart is beating, how tense you might feel, or other signs in your body that you’re feeling increased emotions. If you learn to recognise these signs, you can start to catch them before the situation gets out of control. Pay attention to your body, and remove yourself from the situation if you start to see the signs.

Think about what is important and what’s not

There are some things that it’s normal to feel upset about, like if you feel someone is putting you down at work or you’re being bullied at school. Getting upset about this and wanting to take steps to deal with it is okay. However, there are some things that might not be as important but could still make you feel angry or upset. For example, if someone skips you in a queue, it can be really annoying, but it’s a situation that can be dealt with without becoming overly emotional.

Be self-aware

Are you naturally hot headed? If so, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on your anger level and anger triggers than a person who is naturally calm would. Knowing what situations can get you worked up will help you to manage your feelings when these things arise. 

Avoid keeping things bottled up

Suppressing your feelings is just as bad for you as regularly getting worked up into a rage. Buried emotions can become very toxic and cause problems such as anxiety or depression. Try to find a way to connect with your emotions and talk about how you feel.

Work on your thinking

A lot of the time, we get worked up about something because of negative thoughts. Saying things to ourselves like “I shouldn’t have done that” or “they never listen to me” creates a negative space in your head. Focusing on thoughts like these can bring us down and you might get angry a lot easier.

Find ways to vent your frustrations

Find alternative ways to let go of any stress or frustration you are feeling before it can escalate. Exercising is a great way to release tension and improve your mood. Other people find doing something creative, like playing music, making art, writing, or cooking or baking can help to focus the mind and put your energy into something else. Try different things and find what works for you.

Spend time apart

Although we are spending most of our time at home now, this does not mean that we always have to spend our time with those we are living with. It is important to give each other space and not to solely rely on those you live with for entertainment. Giving each other space can mean you enjoy your time together more, instead of it being your only option. Take some time out during the day to focus on yourself and your own hobbies. Understand if your partner, housemate or family asks to do something alone, it is not a reflection on them not wanting to spend time with you, but that everyone needs some alone time.

How to say sorry after an argument 

If you do get into an argument with those you live with, it is important to be able to recognise when you are in the wrong and be able to apologise. When you're apologising, make sure you acknowledge the hurt you may have caused. Be specific and state exactly what you are sorry for to show them that you understand why they feel the way they do. Take responsibility for your mistake.

Tell them you are sorry and ask for their forgiveness. Tell them you understand that it could take time for them to really forgive you, but that you are willing to work on things for the sake of your relationship and living situation. Avoid pointing fingers or trying to blame them - if they have hurt you in some way, it's okay to tell them that, but avoid using it as an excuse for your own behaviour.

Try to keep this experience in mind in the future. If you have done something to upset someone else, it's best to avoid doing that same thing again - remember this and try to learn from it.

How to address an issue

If you find yourself getting in the same argument with the people you live with, it is important to be able to address what is going on so you can try and resolve the issue. Take some time when you have both calmed down to discuss the problem and try your best to give the person time to speak and listen to what they are saying.

Read our articles on how to be a good listener and how to have tough conversations.

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic?

This situation is completely new to everyone involved and it is normal to feel worried or anxious about what is going on. Following the Government’s instructions on how to stay safe and help slow the spread of the virus, can help to make you feel more in control of your current situation.

If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You're worth talking about and we're here to listen and support you.

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Published April 2nd2020
Last updated Octo­ber 22nd2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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