In life, when things don't go the way we planned, or we are confronted with behaviors that threaten us or make us vulnerable, we tend to work ourselves up. A common cause of frustration, anger and disappointment is our relationships, and the more intimate they are, the more emotional we find ourselves to be. Because arguments can escalate due to mishaps in communication, it's important to take the necessary measures to stop, think, re-evaluate, and calm yourself down before you say or do something you might regret.
As a certified health coach, I understand how critical it is to be in tune with your mind and body and able to regulate its emotions with proper care and attention. By addressing your thoughts in a clear manner and striving to maintain a leveled composure, even if your partner is kicking, screaming and slamming doors, you'll be better able to take control over the situation and lessen the tension. Two people kicking and screaming only makes it noisier, right?
Plus, once emotions intensify, it's incredibly hard to bring them back down and effectively communicate with your partner. The only way to mend an argument is to understand each person's concerns and desires, and the message cannot be relayed if it's masked by shouting and tears.
Here are eleven ways to calm yourself down in the midst of an argument, so that you and your partner can get back on good terms in a matter of minutes.
1. Be Mindful
Being mindful of your voice, tone and surroundings will help keep emotions at bay and make you better able to communicate in a thoughtful manner. "Most people lack the awareness of the impact they have on others," says psychiatrist, Dr. Judith H. Tanenbaum, M.D., in an email correspondence with Bustle. By phrasing your concerns in a way that is constructive and out of love, rather than an attack, you can exude a comfortable, compassionate energy and open up the dialogue for effective and tender interaction. "Being mindful of how you say things is more important than what one says," says Tanenbaum. Start out a phrase, "I know you have good intentions, but..." or highlight a positive quality about the other person before unleashing a criticism.
2. Take Some Space
If you find yourself getting heated, it might be best to get some fresh air, take a walk, or sit in a different room by yourself for a few minutes to an hour, depending on your level of frustration. "Some people who have psychological awareness are able to recognize that they are about to say unmindfully, hostile things, so they say, I need to take a break so I don't say hurtful things," says Tanenbaum. By taking a pause, checking in with yourself, and embracing a peaceful, stillness, you'll save yourself from saying things you might regret and be better able to come back to the conversation in a clearer mindset.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Drinking can illicit emotions and lower inhibitions, and these effects can be disastrous for an argument. While there's always the "happy drunk," who usually just giggles and says silly things, there's also the "sad drunk" and the "angry drunk." Whichever category you fall into, all drunks have a common factor: inflated emotions. "I encourage people who have important issues to discuss not to drink," says Tanenbaum, "as alcohol disinhibits people." Alcohol is a depressant, which means it activates a chemical reaction that lowers cognitive thinking, emotional regulation and sensory cues.
4. Take Deep Breaths
"I pause and take a few deep breaths," says healthy life designer, Michelle Dooley, over email with Bustle. Furthermore, research has shown that breathing exercises can lower blood pressure and stress. Not only can taking a few deep breaths act as a much-needed pause to break the tension, but also it can lower cortisol, relax tight muscles, and bring back clarity to the senses. Connect with your abdominals and regain a quiet, calm energy in order to move forward in a rational and productive way.
5. Say "We"
Remember that you're a team. Dooley suggests thinking, "'How can we solve the problem?'" and to "work together towards the same goal even if you don't see eye to eye at the moment." By saying "we," rather than "I," you prevent your concerns from being seen as an attack on the other person. Try to address the core problem, and show that you both have faults in the argument and should work on them together.
6. Make Some Tea
Experts share that tea can have a calming effect on the body. Some teas, such as chamomile, are especially potent muscle-relaxers. By taking a pause from the argument and making a cup of hot tea, you will grant yourself some extra time to collect your thoughts and help your body and mind calm down. Add in some honey for a few extra antioxidants!
7. Have A Safe Word
For me, I use the word, "bagel," with my partner, and once one of us says that, we each need to say "I love you, and I am sorry." Once we see the argument going off course and reaching new emotional heights, we take a step back and question its worth. It's usually not worth it to continue in that fashion, so by using the safe word, we are able to take a moment to realize how much we love and care for each other.
8. Visualize A Happy Place
Studies show that thinking of a happy place can reduce anxiety. Take a moment in the midst of an argument to close your eyes and visualize a place where you feel at peace. Is it a beach, with the sound of the water and birds in the sky? Is it in a library, reading a good book with a cup of tea? Or, is a particular event better for igniting pleasure? Think to a graduation or past date night. Whatever works for you!
9. Chew Peppermint Gum
Not only will chewing gum help you speak less and listen more, but it also can calm anxiety and promote rational thinking. Pop in a stick and take a moment to enjoy the minty flavor. By chewing, you'll become more aware of your surroundings and be better able to communicate in an effective manner.
10. Touch Your Partner
Showing affection is a great way to prevent the argument from getting too heated. Not only does it quell the emotions of your partner, but also it reminds you how gentle and loving your relationship is, and how it's important for you to calm down and not express things you would regret later. Due to the hormone oxytocin, touch can activate feel good hormones and lower stress.
11. Pay Attention To How You Both Speak
Being aware of how you and your partner speak and present yourselves will help you speak in ways that will best be understood. "Always pay attention to what and how one speaks, even during a fight, which decreases the need to calm down, " says Tanenbaum.
By paying attention in the first place, you're more likely to stop an argument in its tracks, and over time, you'll learn each other's cues and be able to overcome arguments quicker.
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