“We are stressed about our resources, our jobs and our futures,” says Lindsay Kramer, a marriage and family therapist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “As our usual outlets outside the house are largely restricted for the time being, it’s understandable that we’d struggle to stay sane within our shared living spaces.”
With so much time around the house, we may find ourselves unintentionally taking our frustrations out on our family or our neighbors. Kramer shares these six tips for resolving conflict in quarantine.
- Take a moment to pause
“When we notice frustration in ourselves, we need to pause, take a few deep breaths and try to understand what we’re feeling and what it’s really about,” says Kramer.
Remember to check in and ask yourself, “Am I truly upset because of something that’s happening at home, or am I actually just freaked out about the things I can’t control outside of this space?”
If it’s the latter, try channeling your frustration into exercise or jotting down your thoughts in a journal instead.
- Be open about your feelings
Projecting your feelings onto others is called displacement and it happens more often than we realize. It’s a built-in defense mechanism that happens when we feel ourselves losing a sense of control.
“Funneling our frustrations onto our loved ones doesn’t actually solve the thing we were upset about in the first place. Rather, it only just creates more drama to deal with on top of what was already going on,” says Kramer.
When anger, fear or frustration strike, have a conversation with your loved ones about how you are feeling. Remember, your family is there to love and support you, especially during this hard time.
- Know that we are all in this together
While you may be feeling lonely or scared, you are not alone. Not only are your loved ones there for you, but they are probably feeling the same way you are.
“If everyone makes a conscious decision to be in this together, you ultimately are deciding to weather the storm as a unit — not just as individuals in survival mode,” says Kramer. “Think about it this way when considering how you’ll operate in close quarters: Is this virus going to be the thing that tears us apart or brings us closer together?”
- Take time for yourself
Usually when you are angry at someone in your family, it helps to take some time to calm down by yourself. While you can’t go hang out with friends or sweat it out at the gym, Kramer says there are still some safe ways you can cool down while practicing social distancing.
“Go on that walk, take that jog or ride your bike in order to get a change of scenery (in designated areas, of course) and make a concerted effort to re-center yourself while you’re out,” she says
If you can’t leave your home, try finding a quiet place you can go think for a while, such as the front porch or even a bathroom.
“Getting out for short increments with the goal of calming yourself can allow you to return as a reestablished member of the team,” says Kramer.
- Set ground rules
With so much time now spent at home, sitting down as a family and setting clear ground rules for shared spaces can help prevent conflicts from arising.
“Openly communicating about your feelings, expectations and perceptions while steering away from blame is crucial to keep peace in the home and avoid unnecessary conflict,” says Kramer.
- Be kind
Now, more than ever, we need to show each other kindness, even when our loved ones get on our last nerve.
“Extending kindness keeps us from raising our voices and from holding grudges. It allows us to respond with compassion instead of anger. And it keeps us from growing apart during these traumatic and uncertain times,” says Kramer.
So while negative feelings have been magnified, try to use this time to grow as a family rather than push each other way.