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How To Deal With The Anger You Feel Over People Ignoring COVID-19

Kelsey Borresen
·2-min read
Therapists offer tips on how to manage the strong emotions that bubble up when you see people disregard public health guidance.
Therapists offer tips on how to manage the strong emotions that bubble up when you see people disregard public health guidance.

When you haven’t seen your family, hung out with friends or gone on vacation in the name of pandemic safety, watching other people do the things you so desperately miss can be maddening. You might say it makes you “pangry,” a made-up word for pandemic angry that describes what many of us are feeling right now.

COVID-19 has now killed more than 400,000 Americans and sickened millions more, while putting tremendous strain on our health care workers. Yet many families continue to gather indoors for maskless get-togethers. Celebrities and influencers are still taking group trips to far-away destinations.

If seeing other people defy public health recommendations while you’ve been sitting at home makes your blood boil, first know that your strong feelings are justified and normal.

“Those who are engaging in risky behavior are sending the message that COVID isn’t really their problem, that they don’t see a reason to modify their behavior to mitigate risk,” said Atlanta clinical psychologist Zainab Delawalla. “This is infuriating to people who have been making sacrifices for almost a year, and doing so not just to protect themselves, but also to protect others around them.”

“When you’ve been holding up your end of the bargain, it is enraging to see that others are not doing the same,” Delawalla added.

Below, experts offer some advice on how to cope with the “panger” you might be feeling.

1. You think their behavior is risky, but they may not see it that way.

People’s individual definitions of what COVID-19 safety looks like vary widely. You think eating inside at restaurant is too risky right now (and infectious disease experts may agree with you), but your friends may believe it’s totally fine. They figure restaurants wouldn’t be open if they weren’t safe, right? As journalist Amanda Mull of The Atlantic pointed out, there are many people who “are trying to do everything right, but run afoul of science without...

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