It’s been over 100 days since the start of lockdown, and with no end in sight, is it any wonder our nerves (and tempers) are starting to wear us down and intensifying our anger?
If you’re feeling angry at everything and everyone, to the point where you think you’re going to explode, be assured that what you’re feeling is a normal response to an abnormal situation,” says life coach and author Judy Klipin. With everything going on, and stress levels at an all-time high, it stands to reason that everyone’s emotions are amplified. “What might have been a mild irritation before coronavirus, something you’d just shrug off, might now be the trigger for your underlying fury with everything going on, resulting in you yelling at everyone and tears all round.”
Why am I feeling so angry?
Other than general COVID-19 fatigue, says Judy, there’s any number of reasons why you might be feeling so angry, including resentment because your feel your partner, or your kids, aren’t pulling their weight.
“Perhaps your partner said he’d start dinner or bath your toddler while you finished up some work, and he hasn’t – he’s still lounging in front of the TV and your little one is running havoc around the house without his nappy on. Or maybe you’ve made dinner, and now your little one is having a tantrum and refusing to eat until he has had ice cream.”
Truth be told, she says, everyone needs some space right now. And if that means taking just 20 to 30 minutes a day to collect yourself, figure out a plan, and if necessary, ask for help, then that is what you must do.
This could involve getting up earlier than the rest of the household for some time to reflect and enjoy some peace and quiet, going for a walk around the block when it feels like the walls are going to close in on you, or even sitting in the parking lot to listen to your favourite music or a podcast when you go out for some groceries.
Lower your expectations
“Now’s not the time to be a perfectionist,” says Judy. “Everyone is frayed around the edges and we all need time to regroup. We need to lower the expectations we have of ourselves and others, including our children. And if that means that supper is a little later than usual, or that your baby has his bath in the middle of the day, because that’s when you can manage it, that’s OK.”
Figure out your trigger
Judy has a useful toolkit she uses with her clients to help her get to the bottom of their emotions.
“When you feel like you’re losing it at home, take a step back and ask yourself the following 3 questions,” she suggests:
- What am I feeling? – Try and identify the underlying emotion. Are you scared, frustrated, or even just tired and hungry?
- Why am I feeling like this? – If you’re feeling hungry, perhaps the reason you’re lashing out is because you haven’t had a chance to eat all day. If you’re feeling frustrated, the reason could be that you feel like you’re not being a good mom because you haven’t had a chance to bath or feed your child and it’s already dark. Perhaps you are just feeling lonely or unappreciated and you need someone to hear you out. (The people you’d normally reach out to for support, for example, your mom, a good friend, or even a colleague, isn’t freely available owing to the lockdown restrictions.)
- What am I going to do about it? – If the issue is with your partner, find a time where you can both sit down and talk calmly about your suppressed feelings and come up with realistic solutions under these circumstances.
Judy adds that very often anger also masks underlying fear. What’s important is to realise that none of us – not our partners or our kids – have chosen to be in the situation COVID-19 has put us in, and none of know how it will pan out in the months ahead either. We’re in this together.
“You might think you’re turning into this horrible person because you’re always yelling and making a big scene, but you’re not,” reassures Judy. “The trick is to learn how to consciously manage the emotion you’re feeling (like anger), and try identify an appropriate response that doesn’t escalate into a battle zone.”
It’s your responsibility to look after yourself
Judy emphasises the importance of self-care during this stressful time. “You can’t expect to look after your family if you’re not looking after yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, that you eat nutritious meals and make time to relax. “It’s your responsibility, as a parent, to look after yourself.”
More about the expert:
Judy Klipin helps people cultivate essential life skills so that they feel and become more able in every area of their lives. She specializes in working with people who are exhausted and overwhelmed because they struggle with asking for help, feel responsible for everything and everyone around them, and tend to put themselves last. Learn more about Judy Klipin here.
Editor of Living and Loving. She is responsible for developing the brand’s overall content and business strategy.
She has worked on various newspapers and magazines as a journalist and editor over the years. Passionate about health and wellbeing, she has won several respected industry awards for writing and editing. She’s featured on radio and television as a health and parenting expert numerous times and has judged the Pfizer Mental Health Journalism Awards on three occasions.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.