‘Worst year ever’: Managing your anger in 2020

JR Ilagan

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‘Worst year ever’: Managing your anger in 2020
How can you not be furious? You clamor for change yet you're still to blame at the end of the day. Here's what you can do.

We’re now close to the third quarter of the year, and I guess it’s safe to say that many infuriating things happened this 2020. 

Take your pick. For some, it was the way our government units responded to the whole COVID-19 situation. Others, it was the sudden shift of work and school arrangements. For many in dire need, it was the inaccessibility of relief or amelioration. 

Right now, many are fuming over our government’s priorities amid the pandemic – such as an anti-terrorism bill. On top of this, as in the past, we citizens are being blamed for the spread of COVID-19 – for our supposed failure in following quarantine guidelines. 

Who wouldn’t be furious? We get angry, we clamor for change and accountability, yet we are still to blame at the end of the day. 

It’s difficult to even begin to list down all the things that are making people mad. Still, it is clear that we find ourselves constantly surrounded by infuriating stimuli that can lead to anger.

Understanding anger

I refer to anger as normal during these times. Emotions are short-lived, natural, and are physiological reactions to stimuli. This means that emotions happen to us, as opposed to us choosing what we’re feeling. From an evolutionary standpoint, emotions provide us with information on how to behave in certain situations. 

On a very basic level, if a situation makes you happy, you would likely want to repeat that sensation. If you are sad, you would probably want to avoid having to experience that again. If you are angered by something, it may mean that you feel something is wrong and that this wrong must be corrected. 

Managing anger

But just because anger is a valid emotion nowadays doesn’t mean there is no need to manage it. 

When our anger is triggered continuously without management or intervention, we could find ourselves confined in a dangerous cycle. This cycle consists of: 

  • the trigger phase (feeling of being threatened and preparing to engage);
  • the escalation phase (increasing tension – both physiologically and emotionally);
  • the crisis phase (the fight or flight response – judgment impaired during this phase);
  • the recovery phase (adrenaline leaves the body – sound judgment returns);
  • and the post-crisis depression phase (awareness, guilt, and regret surface). 

As with any emotion, learning to regulate anger will serve us well in terms of mental health and well-being. Here are some tips to help you manage the anger and pent-up rage you might be experiencing now. 

  1. Identify triggers and warning signs 

    There is a variety of reasons why people get angry and the manners they show it. On a personal level, what are the things that piss you off? Let’s take that a step further – when you do get pissed, what is it that you feel both physiologically and emotionally? Becoming more aware of what makes you angry and how you feel when you are mad is the first step to managing your anger.

  2. Pause

    Oftentimes, judgment is impaired or even suspended when you are mad (as shown in the cycle of anger above), and we end up doing things or saying things that we may later on regret. So that this does not happen, you can try to hit pause the second you begin feeling sensations related to anger. This article has concrete techniques you can use to take a breather. 

  3. Move around 

    The feeling of anger is physiological, just as it is emotional. As previously mentioned, there is an increase in tension during the escalation phase of the anger cycle. Moving around, which can be done in varying levels of intensity from standing up and walking all the way to a full workout, can help de-escalate the anger you feel. 

  4. Talk about it 

    If you can identify your reasons for anger, talking about it with someone you trust can help ease all that built-up frustration. Reach out to a friend, a family member, a mentor, or whoever you think can help process these feelings and thoughts with you. If you feel that the anger you feel is becoming difficult to control, consider consulting a mental health professional like a psychologist.

Channeling anger  

As I’ve said, reasons for anger vary from one person to another; the feeling of rage itself, however, is universal. 

For your own mental health and well-being, learning to manage these emotions will definitely be helpful. However, apart from that, we can also learn to channel it in different ways. 

So far, for 2020, it seems many triggers of anger, frustration, and rage are associated, in one way or another, with what has been going on in the public sector. Anger management, on an individual level, is fine. However, you can funnel your anger so that it may be of help to others – like people who may be angry but don’t have the opportunity to be heard.

Anger is already an intense form of motivation, but it becomes more than that when you transform it, turn into a medium that opens minds and spreads awareness. Maybe they can even lead to action – whether it’s through promoting discourse, organizing relief operations, or creating affecting art.

This way, you get to manage your anger while also building something relevant.  Rappler.com

JR is a practicing psychologist and the Director for Personnel Management and Development in Gray Matters Psychological and Consultancy Inc. Most of his cases involve depression, anxiety, self-harm, adjustment difficulties, and career-related issues. For consultations with Gray Matters, check out their website here and their online counseling portal here. He is also a lecturer in the Psychology Department of Ateneo de Manila University, where he is currently taking his Ph.D. in Psychology. When he isn’t “psychologizing” and teaching, he likes spending his time boxing and making music with his band, Ars.

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