Author Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler was recently asked by followers of her newsletter to write about how to deal with conflict at home during quarantine. Soundview asked Jen if we could share some of what she told them. She kindly agreed.
Here’s what she wrote:
Grief expert David Kessler has suggested that, during this epidemic, if you’re not sure what you’re feeling, it may be grief. It may also be sadness, anger, irritation, loneliness, frustration, or even appreciation or gratitude for the small things in life.
Sometimes just identifying what we are feeling can help an emotion settle and allow another emotion to take its place. Other times, knowing what we’re feeling allows us to constructively express it with someone else. It gives us the capacity to say,
“I feel sad. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
“I feel angry right now. I need your help with the kids so I can go somewhere else and calm down.”
When you’re depleted and dealing with your own grief, anger or fear, you are much more likely to unintentionally act in ways that contribute to conflict with other people. That is why it is critical to take care of yourself. This is not selfish; it is what will allow you to be there for others in constructive ways.
Do whatever you need to stay grounded at this time. Whether you take walks in the park, play music, do yoga, or join game night or talk with friends or family online, engage in healthy practices to take care of your body, mind and spirit.
You may need to experiment to find the practices that work best for you. A client of mine recently re-downloaded the calm app. Listening to it reminded her that she likes breathing exercises and enabled her first solid night of sleep in weeks.
I take a hike in the woods near my house every day, rain or shine. Taking care of ourselves may come in different, even unexpected, forms. Find the ones that work best for you and stick to them. When you do, you will be much more likely to engage with others in helpful ways that prevent conflict.
Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph.D., is an organizational psychologist specializing in conflict freedom. She is the founder and CEO of Alignment Strategies Group and the author of Optimal Outcomes: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home, and in Life.