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Managing feelings of anger during coronavirus ‘lockdown’

Many people are finding that they are dealing with more anger than usual as a result of COVID-19, and that is understandable. Everyone is experiencing a huge amount of loss. People are losing those that they care about, and many have lost a sense of normality, routine and contact with their family and friends.

Alexander Ingram, a therapist working at Priory Hospital North London, has looked closely at why we experience anger, why we may be dealing with more of it during the coronavirus pandemic and how we can manage our anger so that it doesn’t have a damaging effect on ourselves and others.

Why are we experiencing more anger during COVID-19?

We have all been dealing with a lot of change as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. It is important to understand that if we are experiencing anger, it is a sign of our distress and is a display of our suffering, something that many of us will be feeling as a result of what we are currently living through.  

When thinking about anger, imagine it like an iceberg. The expression of anger would be the tip of the iceberg, and is the thing that we can all clearly see. But, just like an iceberg, which is mostly hidden under the surface of the water, there are often hidden emotions like pain and fear associated with our anger.

Anger is a vital emotion. It lets us know where our boundaries are and what we stand for. Without anger, we would be passive and overly accommodating, so it’s really important to listen to the emotion. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Anger is like a spring inside our body. If we push it down and try to squash or suppress it, all that happens is that we become even tenser. Instead, it is important for us to learn ways to recognise and manage our anger so that it can be transformed into something useful.

How to manage our anger more effectively

By changing our relationship with anger, and learning how to be a good host to the emotion, we can utilise it rather than attempting to run away from it, avoid it or destroy it.

Think about the acronym R.A.I.N. (Recognise, Accept, Investigate and Nurture):

  • Recognise when you’re angry and identify its presence in your body
  • Accept that the anger is there and understand that it’s okay to be angry
  • Investigate the sensations within your body. What does it feel like to be angry?
  • Nurture the anger. It is important that we’re kind to ourselves when we’re angry. Don’t be self-critical or shame yourself for being angry. Be compassionate towards your emotion; it’s reminding you of your boundaries. And if we can become considerate with our anger, it will pass naturally, like a wave on the sea

Seeking help and treatment for anger management

We understand that anger can be a challenging emotion to experience and manage. If you are struggling with your anger management and feel that you would benefit from some professional help, many therapy services are now providing support through video conferences in response to COVID-19 so that people can still access treatment during this time of social distancing.

At Priory, our online therapy service gives you the opportunity to receive assessments and therapy from your own home. You can speak to a highly trained therapist who will listen to your experiences and help you to find a way to effectively manage your anger going forward. If a more structured approach is needed, we are also able to support those in need of treatment within one of our residential services. 


Page medically reviewed by Alexander Ingram, Therapist at Priory Hospital North London

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