One of the most common mistakes we make is to attempt to suppress our anger. Instead, it is important to channelise it, says Dr Samir Parikh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
The lockdown scenario is unpredictable for all of us, as a nation as well as globally across the continents.
However, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the nature of the pandemic as well as its implications in the future on our global health and safety, as well as on the economy of the world in general.
Amidst such circumstances, experiencing a sense of helplessness, along with feeling of anger and irritability could be expected for a lot of us.
Regardless of whom or where the anger is being directed at, it is important to identify the root cause of such negative emotions, which are stemming from within.
It is okay to feel uneasy or helpless. But if we keep devoting our energies to fight the inevitable, we are likely to experience irritability, anger, frustration and eventually fatigue, or even a burnout.
In fact, with such high levels of stressors around us, an adverse impact on our mental health is likely in any case.
Anger is an emotion which is experienced by all of us at some point of time in our life. It is typically a reaction to any factor, often a secondary emotion than can arise as a reaction to other emotions such as insecurity, jealousy, fear etc.
In this case, the anger is typically stemming from fears and worries about the future. Therefore, the need of the hour is to help channelise our anger and our negative emotions.
Remember, it is normal to get angry, but it is your choice to channelise the anger.
Here are some tips to help:
1. Look for mediums to channelise and release your anger.
One of the most common mistakes we make is to attempt to suppress our anger. Instead, it is important to channelise the anger.
Even in these uncertain times, finding an outlet for our anger can actually have a positive function.
Suppressing or holding in anger is unhealthy. Therefore, we should not hesitate to talk about it. Especially during this period of a lockdown, when we are cooped up inside our homes, it is important for us to find such a channel or medium. It gives us a new activity to indulge in on a daily basis, while bringing a meaningfulness to our tasks and efforts.
Emotional expression can be in the form of art, dance, movement, written expression or any other form of creative expression or hobby that one can pursue within the confines of the house.
This can be satisfying with a cathartic purpose, as well as providing a means of adding on to our sense of achievement and productivity as well.
2. Incorporate some form of physical exercise on a daily basis.
When a person is angry, the individual experiences a surge of energy, which typically is externalised in the form of shouting, or aggression. This means that anger comprises a lot of pent up physical energy. And especially amidst this lockdown, having a lot of energy pent up inside of us in inevitable, as we are confined within our homes.
It is strongly recommended to have some form of physical exercise as a regimen within the home.
Open a door or a window to try and get in some fresh air or step out to a garden or balcony if available. Indulge in some physical exercise, be it skipping, jogging, walking around the house, climbing up and down flights of stairs, or following some exercise routines like Zumba, aerobics, etc. or even dancing or kickboxing. Anything to release your physical energy can be helpful to both the mind as well as the body.
3. Identify the triggers within the home or outside.
During the lockdown, the triggers for our irritability and anger could be within the home or even outside; be it in terms of our virtual work demands, our family members and household chores, restrictions on socialisation, lack of available time or resources, or even anger at the unprecedented global pandemic which is on the rise around us.
It is important for us to be able to identify the triggers for ourselves, and then remind ourselves of the underlying reasons for those triggers, most of which are likely to be temporary, and shall pass.
There is a lot which is beyond our control right now. Instead, shift the focus to what you can actually do about it.
Remember, a lot of these negative emotions are pouring out simply because we are not prepared or used to being in this situation.
Try and identify these triggers and if possible, resolve them, else adopt a solution focused approach to cope with them.
4. Be willing to accept what you cannot change.
The current situation is governed by a lot of uncertainty and an unpredictability. Therefore, it is important for us to be able to remind ourselves of what is actually beyond our control and stop fighting it. Instead, be accepting of what is happening, and focus on what all is in our own hands to take care of it, to take safety and precautionary health measures, both for ourselves as well as for others around us.
5. Take frequent breaks.
Whether you are working from home, or doing household chores, it is important to keep aside some time for a recovery period along the way, to help replenish the energy being invested by you.
This is not just a reward to give yourself for your hard work, but also a necessity for you to rejuvenate yourself. Especially in these times, it is necessary for us to take out some time to break down our tasks and activities across the day, especially if we are overburdened.
6. Take care of self.
Yes, it cannot be said enough. A key to managing any emotional upheaval during the lockdown period is simply to take out time for self-care.
We are likely to get overwhelmed by our emotions, especially if we do not give our mind as well as our body a chance to rejuvenate. So, it is essential to prioritise yourself and your needs to ensure you are able to stay healthy enough to remain capable of fulfilling your roles and responsibilities with justice.
7. Re-connect with your social support systems.
Just because there is a lockdown, does not mean that you cannot take out time to spend with your friends and family.
There are a lot of social networking sites that help you connect with people from across the world.
Remember that socialisation is a very integral part of your emotional well-being.
Find people with whom you can talk about your day, share your grievances, your efforts and your achievements.
Reach out to long lost friends and relatives, and utilise this time to catch up on these social support systems! Talk, communicate and reach out, this is the best possible time to do so!
8. Adopt and practice mindfulness techniques.
This is helpful even for individuals who may not be experiencing anger or irritability at this point of time.
During this period it is natural to feel a sense of deprivation or alienation from the social world around us; it is extremely important to be able to centre ourselves around the present moments.
Being mindful of the here and now, focusing on our own bodies and minds, our experiences, and our emotions, can all help in providing a sense of calm and serenity.
You may listen to soothing music, chant mantras, draw, make mandalas, or simply meditate.
9. Don’t forget to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Mental and physical health are directly interconnected. Therefore, even during the lockdown period, you must include regular physical exercise, a balanced diet, avoid alcohol or nicotine, and regular hours of sleep.
Incorporating physical exercise is an essential part of this challenge, as finding ways to be physically active without stepping outdoors can require you to think out of the box!
In fact, it is not a bad time to try and pick up a new skill or hobby to help you be physically active as well as enjoy yourself during this period of a lockdown.
10. Try and find enjoyment in life.
Yes, these are unprecedented times, and while it may not be the most desirable, we can try to make the most of it.
Instead of dwelling with our anger, irritability and negative emotions, it is instead better for us to utilise this opportunity to find happiness in small moments of the day.
Learn to cook something, help your folks clean the house, sign up for an online course, read books, listen to music, complete a jigsaw puzzle.
Don’t let yourselves feel restricted or stifled; instead use this time to instill a sense of positivity, find meaning and have fun along the way!
Dr Samir Parikh is director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences at Fortis National Mental Health Program. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.