“Anger By Appointment Only!”. A 12-step plan to stay cool during lockdown from Knock Counselling Centre
Sunday 28th February will mark the first anniversary of the Coronavirus pandemic reaching Ireland. Over the past twelve months, we have had to adjust to extraordinary changes in our lives that have affected our health, the economy, schools, employment, social and recreational activities, church services and relationships. We have experienced full lockdown, sniffed a sense of freedom at Christmas and, like a prisoner who has broken his parole, ended up back in lockdown.
With the exception of providers of essential services, most of us are spending much more time at home with our families than normal. Whilst this can bring a sense of connectedness and solidarity within our family unit, negative fallout can be caused by our inability to manage difficult emotions such as anger, worry, anxiety, anger, intimacy, fear, loss, grief and uncertainty.
Gardai have reported a 25% increase in domestic violence compared to the same time last year. The risk factors include, unemployment, poverty, social isolation, gender inequality and lack of conflict resolution skills. How we manage our emotions will ultimately determine how we get through these difficult times.
Feelings of worry, anxiety, anger insecurity, fear, grief and uncertainty, along with spending too much time together are potentially huge anger triggers and can adversely affect relationships. If we react to them, the chances are that our loved ones, or ourselves will end up being hurt. If I personally feel anxious or worried about something, I know that my own tolerance levels with kids or my partner will be reduced. So it is important to firstly check in with ourselves and acknowledge how we are feeling. Acknowledging how we feel, first and foremost is crucial.
In reality, COVID-19 changes could last a very long time. In some instances, life may never be the same again and families may be feeling anticipatory grief. Our primitive brain tells us that something bad is happening and it may get worse. Having no definitive end to it all means that we will be bracing ourselves for any potential threats to our wellbeing. Whilst social distancing may bring hope that things will get better, being forced to stay at home is likely to bring anger, frustration, grief and loss of personal freedom.
On a macro level, the government is responding by making decisions that will be unpopular amongst many during this emergency. On a micro level, this is what each family unit will have to do. Respond, not react to these difficult circumstances.
To survive this crisis, we have to ask ourselves how we are feeling, what we are thinking, are we catastrophizing? Are we thinking rationally? Once we have examined all the evidence available, we will probably have a more realistic view on things.
So, how can our relationships survive in such trying circumstances? Here are twelve tips and tactics to help us cope in relationships with others and ourselves during these difficult and uncertain times.
Peter Devers M.Sc. is an accredited Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, Trainer at Knock Counselling Centre, Co. Mayo. Peter is hosting “Temper Your Anger”, an evening online anger management programme starting on 13 April, 6:30-8:30pm, running for five consecutive Tuesdays.
Contact Knock Counselling Centre at 094 9375032 or firstname.lastname@example.org