Tricks of the Trade: How To Calm Yourself During Conflict

5 May

We all know conflict is inevitable – and we know how we react to it is key. But, in the “moment,” doesn’t it seem difficult to analyze one’s reaction, much less have insight into all the emotions/feelings/history that’s causing the conflict? To be sure, staying calm enough to react appropriately is a challenge. But, in my experience, I’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade to help me calm down during conflict.

Here are a few of them:

  • Get To Writing: I think I’ve mentioned my love of journaling, especially since the “act” of writing switches your brain from emotional side to logical side. So, it’s not unusual for me to carry around a notepad and a pen in my back pocket, just in case I feel overwhelmed about something. If you’re in the midst of high conflict, consider excusing yourself and jotting a few points onto paper to help you gather your thoughts and reset.

  • Speaking of Excusing Yourself: Generally speaking, this is the easiest and fastest way to calm yourself during high conflict. Unless you’re trapped in a closed elevator, you probably have an escape route. Before you say or do anything you’ll regret, just excuse yourself and say, “I need a moment to process this.”
  • Square Breathing: When I’m in the midst of feeling overwhelmed, I use a technique called square breathing. Imagine a square. Then, inhale on the line from one point to the next. Then, exhale as you imagine another line moving from point to point. Keep “drawing” squares until you feel calm.
  • Mindfulness: The word “mindfulness” is all the rage these days, but for good reason. It’s the act of “being in the moment.” And, it’s very calming. To achieve this state, focus on something that brings you back to the present (I like counting ceiling tiles). The more mundane the task, the better.

We can never fully escape conflict, no matter how much we try. But, we CAN get our minds and bodies in a position to make better decisions when those conflicts arise. So, consider these tricks of the trade, and see if you can calm yourself enough to resolve that conflict in a healthy way.

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