Have you found yourself with a shorter than normal fuse lately? Do you find yourself overreacting to minor mishaps? Do you feel irritable for seemingly no reason? You’re not alone, and there’s even a name for it: pandemic frustration.
I started noticing it a couple of weeks ago when I had a complete meltdown and found myself raging at a poor, unsuspecting Instacart customer service rep after my order was delivered to the wrong address. The rational part of me knew this was not a big deal. They’d either redeliver my order, or they’d send me a new one. But the part of me that has been dealing with stress, anxiety and overwhelm for the past nine months had reached the point of no return, and the pressure valve blew.
This is so not me. My normal MO is to be patient and kind. This felt almost felt like an out-of-body experience: I was watching myself lose my mind, but I couldn’t stop myself.
According to the Washington Post, pandemic frustration does not have a DSM code yet (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,) but I suspect it’s only a matter of time until it will. According to the CDC, 2 in 5 Americans are “struggling with mental or behavioral health issues associated with the . . . pandemic, including anxiety, depression, increased substance use and suicidal thoughts.”
The problem with pandemic frustration is that many of our normal coping mechanisms – getting together with friends, going to the movies, shopping, or anything else that’s fun – are not available to us right now. As a result, we’re all stressed and it doesn’t take much for us to blow up.
So what can we do so we don’t take our frustration out on innocent parties like the poor customer service rep in my example? The same advice that applies to coping with pandemic-induced stress in general applies here, too: eat healthy, meditate, journal, cook, bake, connect with friends, and get professional help if you need to.
Most of all, I think we need to be gentle with ourselves, and with others.
For me, I’m going to make sure that the next time I’m dealing with a customer service issue, I’m not even going to pick up the phone until I’ve taken a few deep breaths and have put whatever issue I’m trying to get resolved into perspective. And then I’m going to be extra kind to the person who’s trying to help me.
Are you experiencing pandemic frustration? How do you deal with it?