It is valid and expected and acceptable to feel rage and fury at the injustice and oppression in this world. The hatred and violence faced by black and brown queer people in recent times has been relentless and unforgivable. And all queer people of color face micro- and/or macro-aggressions on an everyday basis at this point, especially when social media can sometimes make bad news feel inescapable. You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be outraged. It means you are alive, and it means you care, deeply.
However, the reality of the many negative consequences of holding long-term anger are evident. Chronic anger has been linked to health issues like digestive problems, skin disorders, headaches, heart problems, and high blood pressure. Furthermore, poorly managed anger can also contribute to substance abuse as well as emotional and physical abuse. After all, suppressed or unexpressed anger can be an underlying contributor or indicator of anxiety and depression, but on the other hand anger expressed in a damaging way can damage relationships and day-to-day thinking or behavior patterns.
So, be angry, and feel the power in that. But also be sure to take steps to move forward and through that anger. Let it be a guest in your home rather than a permanent fixture. Here are just a few thoughts and suggestions on managing anger in a time of outrage.
Exercise or any physical activity is an effective stress reducer for many people. If there are physical activities that you enjoy, practicing them regularly can relieve the buildup of stress and anger so that you’re less prone to bottling all of that energy up. Whether or not regular exercise is a part of your week, physical activity can still be used when you can feel anger escalating. Cardio is common option; you could go on a brisk walk or run, or some seated cardio. Strength training can also be effective; you could go into a room by yourself and do pushups (on the floor or with the arm rests on a chair) or sit ups.
Externalize Your Expression
Finding ways to healthily externalize your anger is crucial. Putting your feelings into words in a journal or an essay can help you recognize and understand what you are experiencing—or it can just let you get some words and thoughts out so that they aren’t trapped in your head and heart. Art, music, and other creative expressions can also be healing in a similar way.
Hard on the Issues, Not on the Person
Sometimes, what’s angering you may need to be addressed with people around you, whether it’s the person causing the circumstance or a third party friend or loved one who is checking in with you. In situations where a dialogue around what is angering you is necessary, try to be particularly conscious about how your anger and/or pain can be acknowledged and take space without being toxic. Listen actively and speak with assertion; your anger deserves to be heard. But even in anger, it’s important to try to balance emphasis on the issue at hand with empathy for the other person.
Not everyone deserves your time or energy. You don’t owe an explanation for your anger to someone who disrespects and disregards you. But for those who do care for you and hold significant meaning in your life, it can take a careful, conscious effort not to lash out with violence (physical or emotional) ourselves.
Positive Self Talk & Mindfulness
In the heat of the moment, sometimes what we need is a time-out—just allowing yourself a few minutes of quiet. For many, it also helps to repeat calming words or phrases to themselves, like “relax” or “take it easy.” You don’t have to face trauma, violence, and incitement and immediately be able to keep rolling with it. Give yourself time to breathe deeply and center yourself. Sit in your emotions and be compassionate with yourself.
Find the power and the balance in your anger. Practice managing your anger in this time of outrage, and be gentle with yourself. Share this with anyone you know who is (rightfully) angered by everything that is happening, so we can all support each other as community through this time of outrage.