What is a man’s role in life? It’s to be the protector, the Woolly Mammoth hunter, the great provider keeping the “tribe” safe and sound from danger.
In the past couple of weeks that dynamic has changed dramatically for men around the world.
They feel a little helpless and really have no clue how to manage what is going on.
There is a new enemy in town that men can’t even see, let alone fight or protect his family or loved ones. What is this COVID-19, CoronaVirus? He can’t make it better, he can’t be the problem solver in this case. He just can’t “fix it”. Which is what men are programmed to do – problem solve, to protect the family or “tribe”. Sitting at home “social distancing” passively…waiting, is not exactly a man’s true mission in life.
They feel nervous and exasperated everything seems to be out of control. When that unsettled feeling subsides they feel….well…. angry.
It’s important to know that anger is a normal response. Because of the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic it’s affecting your life and you can’t control it. The result of feeling like you lost control then may lead to confusion, leading to overwhelming anger. Being angry for an extended period of time is not healthy. It can lead to lashing out at loved ones, and cause unnecessary arguments that can potentially damage relationships. It’s vital to implement proactive steps before any blow-up occurs.
Jeremy Tyler, Psy.D. an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and a director at Penn Medicine’s Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety; has some insights, “The way you live your life has been dramatically changed and you don’t have control over those changes. When we don’t have control, there is an opening for negative feelings like anger,” Tyler adds” And anger can take many forms: frustration, feeling ticked off, being inconvenienced—all the way up to rage.”The pandemic is unlike, say, work. If you’re pissed at work, you can blame your boss. But if you’re pissed off in self-quarantine, who or what you blame can vacillate wildly.” (1)
All normalcy and routine that men find comforting has been ripped away. No gradual transition, with some time to get used to dealing with an unpredictable situation. No way to strategize on Plan B for a job that only a few weeks ago had stability. Now the possibility that there may not even be a job when it’s time to go back to work is unsettling, frustrating and scary. Right now, many families are facing 2-3 months…or maybe more of no income. Unemployment benefits, which are helpful, can’t really cover the household expenses in many cases. And the looming possibility of someone they know and love getting very, very sick with the invisible enemy is beyond nerve wracking.
But how can you cope? How to lessen the uncomfortableness of male anxiety? How to defuse the anger that is building up inside them?
Communicate your feelings – Instead of letting the pressure build up inside, share your feelings with a trusted loved one. Sometimes just saying what bothers you out loud can make a big difference and seems to make the situation more manageable and less dramatic.
Take proactive measures regarding your finances – Apply for unemployment, stimulus package, call your mortgage company and see what options you have available.
Limit the news & social media – In our home the more the news and social media checking occurred, the more stress and anxiety it caused. We had to implement a once or twice a day update. That is sufficient in keeping you in the loop.
Don’t eat a lot of junk food – Eat healthy as possible and keep alcohol consumption in check.
Take time out to exercise – It will help to keep you not only physically fit but also help with your mental fitness. Moving and exercising helps to stimulate endorphins that help to cope with negative feelings and mental stress.
Meditate – Get a mediation app or try some guided meditation videos on YouTube. You will quickly become addicted to how wonderful they make you feel.
Listen to music – “Music soothes the savage beast” and in this case it’s your thought process and emotional reactions. It’s easy to get lost in music and change your mood.
Be creative – try drawing, painting, cooking, knitting (yes, men knit). In our normally busy lives there are times when you wanted to have time to experiment with a hobby. Now’s the time to give it a try.
Being grateful – Everyday take 10 minutes of quiet time and write out 5-10 reasons why you are grateful. Think about the wonderful people, your good health, delicious food and comfortable home and anything, big or small that you are grateful for, or think of that vacation you’re going to take when this is all over. Just planning it creates positive excitement. It will help to refocus on all the good things in your life and help you to navigate to a better attitude.
Just realize that you are doing all that you can do by social distancing, washing your hands and keeping yourself healthy by eating and exercising. You will feel stressed, don’t deny that you are, of course things are stressful, but don’t dwell…defuse by substituting positive thoughts of things you can control.
- Kita, Paul. “The Coronavirus Has Made Me a Rage Monster. Help!” Men’s Health, Men’s Health, 31 Mar. 2020, www.menshealth.com/health/a31981606/coronavirus-covid19-anger/.