Anger Management While Staying Home: How to Help Yourself, and Help Others

Cabin fever, anxiety, fear, powerlessness…all are part of the coronavirus and subsequent shutdown experience right now. You’ve probably felt more than one of these at a time, or maybe they go back and forth from day to day. Either way, you and your loved ones are all dealing with these things, and getting angry is going to do more damage than need be right now.

If you’re home, you’re probably feeling cooped up, and chances are that if there are others in your household (or not), you’re getting irritable, angry and triggered by things you may not have before. Thresholds are lower automatically, so people aren’t acting their usual selves anymore right now.

If you’re quick to trigger with others, and find yourself saying and doing things that you’re regretting, read on.

Here are some tips and strategies to think about when you’re shut down for, well, God knows how long these days. Good anger management skills can go a long way in preventing conflict and preserving the harmony in your household.

  • Exercise regularly as best as you can: Get out for regular walks to shed some of your energy. Try light jogging or fast walking, if you’re not used to that typically, or just get out to get some nature and sunshine in, especially if you’re in Phoenix right now where the weather is ideal.
  • Eat regularly to prevent mood swings, so you’re not acting out of “hanger” when you don’t mean to.
  • Try taking a hot shower, and processing your feelings in the shower. Sometimes, the feelings will cool and process better while in there.
  • Or, try taking a car ride, if you need to leave the scene for a while. Music can also facilitate getting out some frustration and angry energy.

As far as dealing with others in your household, here are some other things to think about. You’re going to be cooped up here for a while, and you and yours (kids included) aren’t used to spending nearly this amount of time together in a confined space.

People are going to get incited, so think about yourself, and how you’re showing up with your family or significant other in terms of overall family harmony. Are you angry and contributing to the overall negative energy in your space or household? Might people be reacting to your negativity, anger or irritability.

Think about these things:

  • Know what triggers you to anger or frustration: try naming them to yourself first
    • What are your “hot spots”? Can you write them down, and maybe share them with your spouse/significant other?
    • How can you communicate this to those that might trigger them (knowing or unknowingly) in a healthy and productive way?
    • What are your partner’s triggers, and how can you work to identify them, and work around them so as to not trigger them
    • Can you have a productive conversation about those together?
  • Get in touch with what’s making you irritable
    • Ask yourself if you’re upset with someone, or something: what is it, exactly?
    • Watch for self-blame or the negative self-critic
    • What else would you be feeling underneath your anger? Powerlessness? Fear? Anxiety?
    • Can you talk about those feelings instead of resorting to anger or frustration?
  • Try communicating your feelings, needs and what you want from the other person, rather than attack them and leave them wanting to get defensive with you.
  • Watch the need to lash out, blame or attack those in your line of sight. They are probably innocent bystanders, or at least deserve a better way for you to engage with them. This is especially true with your kids if they’re driving you crazy.
  • Try talking out your irritability with your spouse, significant other, roommate, or call a friend who can listen. Yes, people are using the phone again now!
  • Journal out your feelings and irritability
    • Use a voice app to allow yourself to speak as quickly as you’re thinking
    • Get out the feelings into your phone, while you’re feeling them
  • Try online yoga while you’re at home: go to YouTube, or find studios in your area that are offering online classes now.
  • Try deep breathing or progressive relaxation exercises: there are plenty of good resources out there to instruct you online.

Other anger management ideas to consider about your situation in general:

  • Understand that everyone is feeling similarly now as you do: Your feelings are normal, so let them in and don’t push them away. When you push them away, they gain in strength. When you welcome them in and deal with them, they lose their power over you. Learn how to move into them rather than constantly push them away, or shut off from them.
  • Men often feel depressed, or powerless, and get angry as a result, because anger is more empowering than the other feelings. Know this, and consider your situation and what else you might be feeling underneath (“primary” emotions versus the secondary emotion of anger)
  • Communicate to your significant other, especially if they’re the focus of your anger or your frustration, that you’re angry but that you’ll be back to talk. Don’t just leave without letting them know you’ll be back, or else you might trigger their anxiety or abandonment issues

Dealing with anger, or anger management skill building, is as important now as it is when you’re not in shutdown mode. Pick one or two of these things, and commit to practicing them this week. Look out for your triggers, and know them beforehand, so you’re not caught off guard when they appear.

What are your specific triggers, and how do you deal or cope when they happen?

Are you dealing with other things as well as anger? See our services page, and you might pick other things you’d like to deal with. You can call us directly if you’re dealing with anger and think you might need some help.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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