It’s Okay to Feel Angry About COVID-19

strolling on the beach

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As an English teacher, I’ve taught Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” at least six times. I actually memorized most scenes in the 1996 film featuring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. As a final project, my students selected modern day examples of hysteria and drew comparisons to Miller’s play.

As for me, I never thought I’d live in an identical paranoid reality. 

Let’s address the elephant in the room.

I haven’t mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic on this blog, because I thought it was inappropriate to discuss.

Why? First of all, I am not an epidemiologist, vaccinologist, infectious disease expert, or public health official. I don’t feel like I am an authority figure who should speak about this pandemic to my audience. I don’t have a scientific background.

Despite being a travel blogger, I didn’t even want to mention coronavirus-related travel tips and border closures either, because I felt like it was the government’s responsibility to promote safety and enforce restrictions. I didn’t want to give wrong information.

I also didn’t want to feel responsible for other people’s poor decisions. The emotional labor was too much for me, especially as an educator who already wants to put the needs of my students first.

In the digital travel world, I didn’t want expend additional energy handholding adults, so they could make responsible travel choices as if it isn’t common sense not to travel in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Lastly, Google’s search algorithm isn’t exactly kind to bloggers who discuss health and medicine without the credentials to support their claims. 

notso hostel sunset
Sunset in my Last Trip in Charleston.

Why I’m Talking About My COVID-19 Rage

As you can see, I had enough reasons not to talk about the pandemic on this blog.

However, I do like to talk about mental wellness in this space. And I finally want to break my silence because my emotions have been bubbling underneath the surface for awhile now.

Brené Brown’s new podcost “Unlocking Us” talks about naming our emotions when we’re unsteady and scared in a new situation. And I’m willing to bet most of us haven’t experienced a global pandemic. Which makes it even more important to name our feelings. 

So. Here it is.

I’m angry. Very angry.

at women's travel fest in nyc
At Women’s Travel Fest the Weekend Before Lockdown.

How My Life Has Changed During COVID-19

Oh boy. Where to even begin? My life has completely shut down due to the pandemic.

For instance, I used to always go to New York City on weekends. These little staycations brightened my life.

Furthermore, I was super social prior to COVID-19. I had book club meetings, museum visits, and girls lunches. Actually, my first weekend in quarantine was my first weekend since September without any social plans on the books.

My whole world came to screeching halt. And it … never stopped. Everything is still paused.

I feel like I am living in the movie “Groundhog Day” with no signs of change on the horizon. I know I’m not alone, but it still stinks.

As a resident of New Jersey, coronavirus hit us hard and fast with very little warning. We were one of the first epicenters of the pandemic in the United States.

To make matters even worse, I live on the northeast corridor, which is one of the busiest commuter train lines that feeds directly into New York City. 

Thanks to my location, my county’s numbers shot through the roof. I left my apartment to stay with my parents after quarantining for 15 days with no symptoms. 

And … I have nothing else to say about my life, really. I don’t even want to talk about my canceled trip to London and Wales.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile knows that I’m somewhat of a hypochondriac. You would think I’d feel scared 24/7.

Surprisingly, though, my biggest feeling about COVID isn’t anxiety. It’s rage.

apartment fun and teaching
Acting Silly in My Apartment. No rage here.

Is It Okay to Feel Angry About Coronavirus?

Yes. 

I’ve read a couple times that you shouldn’t feel angry about the situation and just stay at home with a big smile on your face. Um. No.

Let’s face it. It’s okay to feel angry about a lot of things in our world right now. My own rage is fluid. Need examples? Buckle in, skipper.

As for me…

I’m angry that the WHO and CDC didn’t immediately recommend wearing masks.

I’m angry that I’ve had to temporarily mute comments on my travel blog, because a nasty commenter assumed I had broken quarantine when I haven’t left New Jersey since February. 

I’m angry that people are instantly labeled as selfish for feeling sad over missing a trip, canceling a wedding, losing graduation, or even just longing for human connection again. 

I’m angry at people on social media who are smug in that annoying “I told you so” way because the pandemic is as bad as they predicted in March.

I’m angry at people on social media who are claiming it’s “not that serious” and we need to “open everything now,” even though the situation is still dangerous.

I’m angry at feeling gaslighted because, even after locking down in New Jersey for months, the general assumption is that no Americans take this pandemic seriously and we’re all gross and diseased individuals who are hopping borders left and right.

I’m angry at people assuming our lives won’t return to normal til 2030 or ever

I’m angry at careless tourists at the Jersey Shore driving up our numbers to unsafe levels. 

I’m angry so many small businesses are closing forever.

I’m angry at people who don’t believe in vaccines.

I’m angry that I can’t travel somewhere new, eat inside a restaurant, or see a Broadway show.

I’m angry there is literally no safety net for people who’ve lost their jobs.

I’m angry at people who refuse to wear masks or socially distance. 

I’m angry at fools in New Jersey having house parties and driving up our state’s RT rate.

I’m angry I’ve sacrificed a lot and have nothing to show for it.

I’m angry at everything.

not looking so angry here

How to Manage Your Anger in a Pandemic

Whew! Are you still here? Haha.

As you can, uh, clearly read, I’m all for embracing and channeling your inner anger, especially as a woman. Too often we’re told to be quiet and handle our problems with dignity. Nah. Let your feelings out. 

However, anger affects personal relationships and your quality of life if the rage stays repressed and out of control. I know I can push people away with my own unaddressed anger.

So, if you’re finding yourself frustrated all the time, then perhaps it’s time to step back and take care of yourself before your emotions send you into a complete spiral.

Yes, sometimes it is important to take a step back. As a perpetually angry person, I recognize and accept this reality. I don’t want to ruin the bonds with my friends and family.

If you’re in the same boat, I promise you’re not alone.

Without further ado, here are some of my best tips to keeping your anger under control during the coronavirus pandemic. 

i love my speakeasy mask
Wearing a Mask to Protect Everyone!

Remember You Can Only Control Yourself

I kinda sorta have control issues. I think it’s one of the main reasons why I’m so scared to fly in an airplane. As soon as that door closes, my control (or perception of control) is completely zapped into dust.

At the end of the day, you’re only able to control your own actions. 

It’s a tough pill to swallow. I wish everyone was taking the pandemic seriously, but sadly, it’s not the reality. Do what you can to keep yourself safe and block out the extra noise.

For example, I totally understand that it’s frustrating seeing people running around without masks. Their selfishness is appalling. No doubt about it. But if you’re wearing a mask? Then you’ve done your part to protect others, which is admirable. 

Another personal example is that it’s disheartening reading so many articles about Americans ignoring borders and vacationing in other countries. But I’m staying home. I’m not responsible for them.

Do all you can to keep yourself and your family safe.

You’re keeping your conscience clean. 

outdoor dining in cape may nj
Enjoying Outdoor Dining!

Treat Yourself to Something Special

Money is tight for many people right now. Still, treat yourself to something special if you’re feeling furious all the time.

Not all treats need to cost money. Taking a walk in a quiet place is free and wonderful for your mental health. So is sitting in a comfortable space with a favorite book.

In New Jersey, our numbers are low enough where we can enjoy outdoor dining with limited risks. I found that eating dinner in Cape May increased my mood and made me feel like a real person again.

Ultimately, you are doing your best in a truly difficult situation. We’ll probably never see a pandemic on this scale in our lifetimes. Give yourself some credit and some gifts. 

mmmm delicious pie
Pie is better than Twitter.

Take a Break from Social Media and Doomscrolling 

Social Media isn’t a safe haven right now. It’s actually soul crushing.

In my experience, I find Twitter and Reddit the worst offenders, followed by Facebook. Instagram and YouTube have been okay. 

I’ve even gotten into the habit of picking Twitter fights with people who don’t agree with me about COVID-19. Why? I don’t know. What I do know is that I need to take a break from the platform. 

You’re not going to find much of a happy medium on Twitter. I don’t see many opinions between “we’re going to be in lockdown for the next ten years” and “haha, coronavirus is a big hoax!” A perfect recipe for anger.

Uninstall the app on your phone if you’re continuously scrolling through bad news and feeling your blood pressure going through the roof. It’s not healthy.

And doomscrolling? Cut it out. Limit yourself to twenty minutes of news per day. If something earth-shattering happens, you’ll find out about it whether you’re scrolling headlines or not.

Social Media doesn’t reflect reality.

peace at the bay in nj

Practice Mindfulness 

I don’t want to act like I’m an expert on mindfulness.

Why? Uhh, I’m still learning mindfulness. My thoughts always race to a future that exists beyond my control. And that future? Is the worst case scenario. 

I’ve been told that mindfulness is a good way to keep myself sane.

In particular, meditation is a wonderful way to bring yourself down to earth. And you don’t have to shell out money for expensive classes either!

You can find many free meditation guides on Youtube. Thanks to Youtube, I used to meditate a lot after break ups (haha), but now I totally want to get into the habit of soothing my mind in the mornings and evenings.

If you want a paid app, I enjoy listening to the Calm App on my smartphone. 

reading conde nast traveler at home

Plan for Future Adventures and Happiness

Last but not least, please please please remember that this frantic and tense state will not last forever.

If you must think ahead, plan for your future happiness once this pandemic comes to an end. In history, all pandemics eventually came to an end. And the majority of these pandemics, such as the 1981 Flu, happened before modern medicine or technology. 

And COVID-19 will eventually end too, simply turning into a “run of the mill” virus that we can treat with a simple call to a doctor or pharmacy. 

Use the time to plan something wonderful for yourself once it’s safe to do so. I know looking at travel magazines always cheers me up. The world didn’t disappear overnight. 

However, if you’re unable to see even a glimmer of hope, then I highly recommend finding a therapist. I’m not suggesting that from a place of judgement, but compassion.

Indifference and deep pessimism are possible signs of untreated depression. You don’t have to suffer alone. Many of therapists are willing to do virtual sessions. 

Things will get better.

lovely flowers in italy

How have you managed your angry during the COVID-19 pandemic? What suggestions would you give to people who are struggling with their anger?