The days following this weekend’s snowstorm have not been a winter wonderland for everyone, with reports of violent responses in several cities. And although it might be difficult to keep a cool head, one expert says calm down — snow eventually melts.
Winter Storm Jonas has caused residents throughout the northeast to alter their every day lives with many having to spend hours digging out cars, having to find alternate transportation options, and walking through narrow sidewalks.
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In New York City, parents and teachers were frustrated with commuting to school on Monday and residents in the borough of Queens felt forgotten with some of their streets covered in snows days after the storm.
However, for some, the frustration has been too much and has resulted in violent reactions.
In one incident a man in Boston was reportedly shot over a parking space and over the weekend, Newark police arrested a woman who allegedly arranged to have a man shot for using her snow shovel.
According to Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University and former president of the American Psychological Association, feeling angry after such a storm is normal because, for the majority of Americans, being told to slow down just doesn’t cut it.
"Mother Nature is messing with America and its cars and its jobs and its mobility and so we don’t like it,” Farley said. “So where do we lay the blame and what do we do? In the absence of a clear outlet, you find aggression.”
And although feeling frustrated is normal, Farley — who called the violent incidents a post-storm purge — added that in some cases when individuals already have a low level of self-control, their minds go towards doing damage and doing harm.
He also said that unfortunately, we currently live in an era where it is hard for some people to hold back on what they say and do.
“People will get mad and in some cases if they already have a low level of self-control they just may do damage, do harm,” Farley said. “It’s everything. It’s retribution, it’s anger, it’s lashing out. It’s a personal purge.”
According to Farley, instead of freaking out or getting angry, people should instead take this time as an opportunity to get things done. For example, read a book, catch up on that television show you have been missing, or give a call to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Another tip — help out your neighbor. This act allows a person to feel a sense of generosity, which will wash over any negative feelings.
“One of the important things in life is not so much the events that are troubling you, it’s how you interpret them,” Farley said. “Turn it into an opportunity for things that you haven’t had a chance to do.”
And although for some people it is hard to prevent them from lashing out in violence, Farley said that he advises most people – who find themselves in a moment of anger or hostility — to just breathe and cool off.
He added that what people should begin to think about are their actions and whether acting out or taking any further steps would actually be a good idea in the long run.
“If you can, just walk away,” Farley said. “When you do it and you exercise self-restraint and self-control you are actually making yourself a strong person. Someone who can withstand tough times.”
And at the end of the day, although the next few days will be messy and chaotic, Farley says, things will eventually return to normal.
“The amazing thing about snow is it melts,” he said. “This will pass.”