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Does the pandemic have you 'pangry'?

amandadyslin, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

MANKATO, Minn. — Are we out of the woods with COVID-19? Have we reached the endemic stage? Should we adopt the mindset that the virus is just a part of our lives now and carry on as usual?

Many people are walking around with more questions than answers as new COVID variants emerge and case counts continue to fluctuate. Without a definitive answer as to what the next phase of the pandemic will look like, mental fatigue has set in for many during this COVID limbo, as has anxiety, depression and persistent anger.

"It's been well over two years since the start of the pandemic, and of course people are frustrated and anxious," says Patrick Bigaouette, M.D., a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. "When COVID-19 case counts tick back up, people are naturally nervous about whether it's OK to go to a movie, send their child to school, or the possibility of increased COVID-related public policies. The recurrent feeling of anxiety can be mentally fatiguing."

Research has shown an increase in frustration, agitation and anger throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic anger, or "panger," is a real mental health concern many people are dealing with.

"Feeling these emotions is perfectly natural response, however, we want to help people cope and respond in healthy ways," says Dr. Bigaouette. "Yelling at others, dwelling on the situation or shutting down can negatively affect one's health, work and relationships."

Here are some ideas that may help you respond more effectively to "panger" rather than simply reacting:

 

Step back and observe.

Take a deep breath and pay attention to what's happening in the moment without judging or evaluating your experience. Do you notice frustration and anger in your body, such as tightening of the chest, clenching of the jaw or fists, or feeling hot? You may notice an action urge or impulse, such as the urge to scream or run away.

Simply slowing down and observing anger can make it seem less overwhelming and help create space between your anger and what you do next.

Allow "panger" to be present.

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©2022 Mayo Clinic News Network. Visit newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
 

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