Tips for managing conflict during COVID-19

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

COVID has heightened anxiety and fear to record levels. Being in a heightened state of worry and concern inevitably leads to stress in relationships. Conflict with the people we love is magnified exponentially. We, and the people around us, are irritable, agitated, overwhelmed and fatigued. How do we manage relationships in these trying times? Read on for tips I’ve been sharing with my therapy patients as we work through these very same issues in psychotherapy. 

Prioritize Health: One of the most important things right now for everyone is to keep ourselves healthy so we can continue to function during this time of constant stress. Of course, we are going to snap more often when we are tired, hungry or feeling bad physically. To help minimize conflict with others, give yourself a fighting chance before it even starts. Drink plenty of water. Shut off electronics a couple hours before bed to help your brain wind down for better quality sleep and move your body by walking a few minutes each day. Caring for your body will help your mind be calmer and better able to handle conflict.

Reflect and be Still: Recognize when you need a break from other people, and make it happen. Take your dog to the park. Go for a drive. Sit outside for a few minutes. Carve out some time and space for yourself to practice just sitting still. Taking breaks, even for a few minutes here and there can help us create the internal peace we need to stay calm when conflict does arise. 

Listen and Validate Feelings: If you find you are surrounded by negative people, people who complain, and/or people who are often upset, do your best to just listen. Don’t try to fix their problems. Rather, be a listening ear, and validate their concerns. Express that you hear their difficulties and let them know you are sorry they are struggling. So much conflict in our lives could be avoided if people would simply listen and validate the emotions of the people around us (as opposed to trying to fix the issue). Let people feel their feelings. Be a listener in a world where everyone seems to always be talking. 

Practice Kindness: Do your best to give people extra grace right now. Everyone is struggling, and many are emotionally on edge. Before the day starts, intentionally prepare for the fact that people will be irritable and may even offend or disappoint you. Plan ahead of time to decide to stay calm and offer kindness, even when others can’t seem to do the same. We need some everyday heroes right now to step up and lead. We need people to set an example of resilience and calm in difficult times.

Each of us has the capacity to be a person who manages stress and conflict in such a way that it improves the lives of not only ourselves, but of everyone around us. Follow these simple tips to help you better manage the conflict with others that will inevitably continue to surface in the stressful days ahead.