Maybe things in your home have been a bit… tense recently. The kids are less busy without school, you and your partner have been spending a ton of increased time together, and you’ve described to your friends that you’re getting on each other’s “last nerve.” Every relationship experiences some conflict and tension, so if this is happening to you, please don’t panic. Dealing with conflict in a relationship is not easy- this is the hard work everyone is referring to when they say relationships are not easy. The goal here is to reduce the air of stress in your home instead of letting it escalate, or even avoiding conflict all together. Below are a few tips to get you started on the path to a more comfortable home! 1. Learn when you are ruminating Let’s think of a common moment that happens in homes that sometimes feel tense. Your partner does something to frustrate you. This is something you feel more or less okay with, but then you go take a shower and find yourself stewing about something they said last week. All of a sudden you’re furious, and you’re either giving your partner the cold shoulder or yelling at them for the small thing they did to frustrate you right before your shower. What happened here? That stewing you were doing in the shower is called rumination, and can make each small thing that happens feel huge. Rumination is another word for when your “thoughts are spiraling.” It causes the hormones that make you angry to continue to pump through your body long after the event is over. Further, when you don’t recognize this is happening, your brain will fill in the blanks and assign the anger you’re feeling to something possibly benign. Stepping out of the rumination cycle can be really tricky. Try addressing the below steps to redirect and focus on bringing your body back to a calm level. 2. Learn to self soothe By now, you probably have noticed that this is a suggestion for the majority of our blog posts. The reason for this is twofold- first, self soothing allows you to calm your body, which sends signals to the mind that everything is okay. Second, self soothing will allow you to not only express your own needs better, but will also allow you the head space to be able to listen to your partner’s. As mentioned, when the home feels tense, ruminating is likely occurring. As tension rises through both conflict and rumination, the brain starts assigning huge feelings to otherwise small frustrations. This makes it difficult to understand your own emotions and where they are coming from, which in turn makes it impossible for your partner to understand what is going on for you. To bring yourself back down from the angry bubble, try replacing rumination with self soothing. Self soothing is applicable across the board- this means using it in the moments you feel angry and frustrated, but also in the moments you feel sad and tired, as well as in the moments of calm and serenity. There are a ton ways to bring your body back down from anger, so it is hugely important to find what outlet works for you. Yes, there is always deep breathing and meditation. But there are also other ways such as watching your favorite show, gardening, or listening to music. Find an arsenal of ways to calm your body! 3. Validate your emotions Try not to forget about this one! It is often overlooked, but critical to being able to calm down. Remember you are feeling the way you are feeling for a reason. Whether this reason is something that is happening in the present moment, or because you’ve felt consistently frustrated for a while, there is absolutely a reason. Validating your own emotions will also make it easier to understand them and where they’re coming from. Acknowledging that they are real can leave room to explore them deeper. Once you have a better idea of what is going on for you, your partner can, too. Check out this post to see why validating your partner is equally as important! Conclusion Tension stinks, and a huge reason for this is because typically tension comes from a lot of piled up things rather than just one identified issue. This can make it feel impossible to sort through what is going on and address the issue. Sit with what is going on for you so your brain does not draw its own conclusions. This will only lead to attempts at problem solving that won’t work! Remember to take baby steps, and to address one thing at a time.