Have you ever had a heated argument, only to realize hours later that it was ridiculous? (Yeah, me too.) In fact, only recently I had an argument with my husband that revolved around a sweet potato (nope, not kidding). Whether the topic of the conflict is real or imagined, ridiculous or vastly important, the feelings associated with that conflict are real, especially when emotions are running high. And that can make it hard to keep our cool.
We can feel angry, hurt, or even misunderstood, especially when we experience conflict with our spouse, child, co-worker, or friend. Luckily, there are some things we can do to help us calm down and approach conflict in a healthy way.
Check out these four helpful tips for tackling conflict:
You may think irrationally when you’re feeling angry or hurt, so take time to evaluate your thoughts—are they reasonable? Make an effort to understand your spouse’s point of view and determine the validity of what you’re arguing about. Is being right more important than your spouse’s feelings? Is this clash regarding a life-or-death situation or is it a petty disagreement? Once you’re thinking rationally, you can tell yourself something along the lines of, “I’m blowing this out of proportion. My relationship with my husband matters more to me than what we’re arguing about.”
Catch yourself at the beginning of a disagreement. Research has shown that the first three to five minutes of a conversation lays the foundation for what is likely to follow. If things start going downhill, suggest something like, “This is going in a bad direction. Let’s start over.”
Anger can be a powerful emotion accompanied by a chemical reaction in the brain. You give yourself a chance to calm down by choosing to wait out the wave of emotion. Consider the following ideas or something similar:
Find a distraction.
Take a walk.
Listen to calming music.
Read something uplifting.
Yelling about your feelings won’t help you “get it out of your system.” The more you vent your anger, the more intense your feelings will become. Instead you could:
Write down your thoughts.
Exercise or get active.
Use a creative outlet—play the guitar, paint, sing, or dance.