*This post contains anger triggers.
How to Cope with Anger and the Coronavirus
This post deals with:
Why Are We So Angry?
There is a lot of (often misdirected) anger and frustration in the world right now.
Anger at our political leaders, for ‘letting the coronavirus get this bad.’
Anger at people who have hoarded food and medical supplies, when others are greatly in need and suffering.
Anger at long wait times on hold, trying to reach banks or other services, to try to get some relief and assistance in this very challenging financial time. And frustration when you finally do get through, shuffled from automated voice menu to automated voice menu, to only have the system state that the call centre cannot take any more calls and hang up on you. (Yes, I’m talking from personal experience.)
And there’s a great deal of anger and anxiety online about people not social distancing in the face of COVID-19.
For the record, the World Health Organization is suggesting we now refer to it as “physical distancing,” a choice I fully agree with because it underlines the importance of staying connected, vs. being truly isolated. We might need each other’s love and support more now than ever. Which brings me back to my point about anger towards people still congregating in large or even small groups in public.
I understand people being angry with teens and twenty-somethings, out on the beaches and sports fields, getting together and partying. Or at families still having others over for backyard BBQs. It’s irresponsible. And dangerous. This is a virus spread by close contact. The science is clear.
But what really shocks me is every time I see someone online getting so angry at people who aren’t physically distancing themselves adequately that the commenter says things like:
If you get coronavirus, you deserve it.
If you get coronavirus, you don’t deserve medical treatment.
If you’re on a ventilator and they need to pull someone off to make space for someone else, they should pull you because it’s your fault that you got sick.
I hope you die.
Isn’t that like blaming someone who gets an open fracture while hiking-which they were doing voluntarily, thereby putting themselves voluntarily at risk-and refusing them care, letting them go septic from an open wound and die, just because they should have known better than to go hiking?
Or what about going for a drive and getting in a car accident and needing to be ventilated?
Having diabetes but giving in and having a sugary sweet, and ending up in a diabetic coma?
I could go on and on with examples where we take our own lives into our hands every day.
But it’s not just our lives, it’s the lives of others, the people you pass the coronavirus on to, the commenters also state.
Then what about driving, and getting into an accident at no fault of your own, but still causing trauma to an unsuspecting pedestrian? Should you not get ventilated because you hurt the pedestrian, even accidentally, because you voluntarily went driving?
I used to teach healthcare ethics to nursing students and these are the types of questions that we used to wrangle with, in school and on the front lines every day. But the answer is always the same:
Coping with Anger
What might be really at the root of all this anger is anger at the coronavirus itself. Anger at something we cannot control. It makes sense but it doesn’t make it any easier. Anger isn’t an emotion that necessarily makes you feel good after releasing it. Sure, you might feel a rush of release when you yell at someone or post an angry comment, but it does no one any good in the long term.
You would be better served to find coping mechanisms that work for you to immediately calm the anger (though you might want to also plan to deal with the fear at the root of it all).
When you feel anger building up, here are just a few of the many things that you can do to alleviate it:
- Go for a run
- Do some jumping jacks
- Call a friend
- Watch a cat video
- Do some deep breathing.
- Whatever you do, pause.
Don’t lash out. Practice compassion.
Let’s not let the coronavirus pandemic turn us against each other. We need each other.
Are you shocked when reading those types of comments, too? Or do you feel the same way? If you need to talk, I am here to work through some of these issues with you.