Why is Karen so angry?
If there's a female villain of the pandemic it's Karen, the perpetually perturbed middle-aged woman in capri pants who's prone to making ill-advised 911 calls, registering complaints with the manager, and lately even brandishing a handgun. Karen is furious, but she's not the only one. Even “friendly” retirement communities have reported angry outbursts esulting in bloody golf carts and profanity-laced videos. “We're living in a big anger incubator,” says Raymond Novaco, a psychology professor specializing in anger assessment and treatment at the University of California at Irvine. In a world where we're dealing with a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and civil unrest, anger gives people the opportunity to feel certainty, clarity, and confidence. Some anger is righteous, and is being directed at changing society for the better, but there is much anger of the destructive kind that has launched a thousand Karen memes. Anger can harm others and our own cardiovascular, neurological and endocrine health, making the pandemic even harder to endure, and so this week's 5-Minute Recharge is focused on strategies to recognize our inner Karen (or Ken) and deal with them before they get us into trouble. Let's get started! ONE NAKED QUOTE “Say something to Berni. Say something quickly!” – Spanish municipal councillor Bernardo Bustillo thought he could shower and video conference, proving once again that multi-tasking is rarely a good idea
“We’re happy to spread some more joy around,” says Marcia Leeder who met her husband Dorian when she tripped him at a roller-skating rink. Roller skating is yet another activity, along with bicycling and jigsaw puzzles, that has made a massive pandemic comeback. ONE-TWO-THREE ANTI-ANGER PUNCH #1 BETWEEN STIMULUS AND HOT SAUCE In Man's Search for Meaning, neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl stressed that we have the ability choose our response to any situation. Meditation is a scientifically-proven training method for strengthening our ability to choose our response. One of the first things a novice meditator learns is that “I am angry” makes no sense. You are not angry. Anger is an emotion that is passing through you. Taking a step back from your thoughts and emotions, and watching them come and go in meditation, makes it easier and more automatic to pay attention to your inner life. Experience with meditation will help you recognize anxiety and examine it with curiosity. And if you're really good at watching your emotions play out in your mindful theatre, you can watch anxiety turn into anger, or realize that what you're feeling isn't really anxiety, but disappointment. Meditation makes your emotional life slow down so you're able to choose a response to a difficult situation that serves you, rather than the kind of knee-jerk reaction that could make you a trending topic on Twitter. The “hot sauce study” provides some scientific evidence that meditation makes people less reactive. Subjects who meditated for only three weeks were 57% less likely to retaliate against a person who gave them harsh feedback. In this study, retaliation was measured by taste samples of hot sauce (versus chocolate syrup or lemonade powder) that subjects gave the person who was rude to them after they were specifically told that this person didn't like spicy food. (Apparently, using hot sauce as a proxy for aggressive behaviour is a scientifically-validated study design). “Between stimulus [harsh feedback] and response [hot sauce] there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response [chocolate syrup]. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor Frankl #2 BURN OFF AN ANGRY MOOD Exercise that gets your heart pumping can burn off the excess energy characteristic of anger and release a cascade of feel-good chemicals. According to research out of the University of Georgia, exercise can alleviate an angry mood–a lingering feeling of anger not associated with a trigger; however exercise will not prevent you from experiencing an angry emotion in response to an irritant such as being on the receiving end of a rude gesture as you run into the path of a turning car that doesn't want to yield to a runner. The emotion of anger is out of our control and is best handled through the mindfulness trained through meditation that allows anger to happen but doesn't get tied up in it. Meditation acknowledges that the emotion of anger inevitably rises and will pass, allowing your post-exercise good mood to return. “Exercise is a great way to discharge tension, work through emotional blocks, release anger, and gain self-esteem.” – Ellen Bass, American poet and co-author of The Courage to Heal #3 GET SOME SLEEP! In The 5-Minute Recharge, we stress that sleep is the bedrock of mental health, and research strongly suggests that there's a relationship between a lack of sleep and a surplus of anger and other unpleasant mental states. You've probably noticed how insufficient sleep makes you cranky, but you may not know why. The reason lies in the most reptilian part of our brain, the amydala, which is both our emotion centre and an important participant in the mechanism of sleep. A lack of sleep makes the amygdala more responsive to negative stimuli such as criticism and the more evolved parts of our brain less able to control the amygdala's reptilian impulse to lash out. So get a good night's sleep tonight and soothe your inner reptile. “Completing a full seven to eight hours of sleep can reduce the emotional symptoms of anger.” – From “The Amygdala, Sleep Debt, Sleep Deprivation, and the Emotion of Anger” *********************************** THE FAST FIVE 1. How technology literally changes our brains - Ezra Klein Podcast 71 minutes (An exploration of how our smart phones keep us in the intellectual shallows.) 2. On the Exceptionalism of Books in the Age of Tweets - Cal Newport (We can't handle Henry James' short stories anymore.) 3. Train Your Muscles Without a Gym - Gretchen Reynolds The New York Times (Do squats with a tree and make people think you've taken tree hugging a bit too far.) 4. The lockdown death of a 20-year-old day trader - Financial TImes (The combination of gamified confetti celebrations of trades and unsophisticated investors can be a deadly combination.) 5. 10 Incredible TED Talks About Time Management You Should Watch Right Now - Entrepreneur.com (Watching TED Talks on productivity is one of Lynne's favourite ways to procrastinate!) *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE THE LAUGHTER LIST “Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” – Wayne Dyer This week’s 5-Minute Recharge challenge is to take a few minutes to develop a laughter list, a list of resources that make you laugh, and to commit to dive into it at least once a week. There is a large body of research demonstrating the many benefits of laughter and humour to reduce stress and pain, quell anger, and improve healing. If you have a big presentation coming up or any other anxiety-inducing situation, you may want to draw on your laughter list to put you in a cheery state of mind before taking the stage. Here's Lynne's laughter list:
Tracey Ullman's Bollywood Viagra Skit
Monty Python's SPAM Skit (with subtitles in Portuguese to make it even funnier)
“Anger, depression, suppression, denial, took a little piece of me with them. Yet laughter made me more open to ideas, more inviting to others, and even a little stronger inside.” ― Scott Burton, laughter therapy recipient