Managing conflict during confinement

Managing conflict during confinement

After being asked to stay home for an indefinite amount of time to slow the transmission of COVID-19, you may have experienced a dramatic change in the way you live and work.
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For many, home has now become a multi-use space, a workspace, classroom, the gym, and an area for everything else. Spending the vast majority of your time with the same people in the one shared space, and with the uncertainty around when this might end, it is understandable that tensions may run high as we all try navigate this new and confusing situation.

With so much time around the house, we may find ourselves unintentionally taking our frustrations out on our family, friends, or our neighbours. The following are some tips for resolving conflict during quarantine.

Pause for a moment

When you start feeling frustrated it can be helpful to pause and take a few deep breaths to ease some of those feelings. Take a moment to understand what is causing this frustration. Is it something in my home that I can actually control or something external that I cannot?

If it’s the former, try and think of ways you can begin to solve the underlying issue. If it's the latter, try writing down how you feel in a journal. The exercise of putting those feelings on paper can help you feel calmer.

Express your feelings

Projecting your feelings onto others is something that happens often, and most of the time automatically. But, when experiencing negative emotions projecting them on the people we interact with can worsen the issue rather than help resolve it. You can also hurt others’ feelings when they may have done nothing wrong.

Do remember, however, that your feelings are important and valid. You shouldn’t stifle or dismiss your feelings, or put off conflict just because “it’s not the best time”. Whenever you notice negative emotions arise, have a calm conversation with your loved ones about how you are feeling. Keep the focus of the dispute on the issue at hand, and don’t use put-downs or bring other disagreements into it.

Take time for yourself

Sometimes, when you feel annoyed, angry, or have just had a disagreement, it helps to take some time to calm down by yourself. While you can’t leave to hang out with friends or sweat it out at the gym, there are still some ways you can cool down. If you are allowed to go outside where you live, you can take a walk in your neighbourhood or go for a short jog. If you can’t leave your home, try to find a quiet place you can go and re-centre yourself.

Connect with others in your situation

If you are a parent, being at confined at home with your children and lacking contact with other parents can be stressful and overwhelming. But you don’t have to go through it alone. You can arrange for virtual playdates with your children’s friends, or organise evening video calls with other parents. You can also ask family to contribute, such as having the grandparents read a bedtime story to the children over the phone. That way the wider family also stays connected.

The same also applies if you live alone or with a partner. People are innately social beings, so living alone or sharing a small space with just a single person during lockdown can be a challenge, especially for an extended period of time. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people. You can organise video calls with them and even do activities together. Your friends and family are there to support you, especially during challenging times. And remember that we are all in this together.

Be kind

Though this is something that is important to practice always, it is now, more essential than ever. We need to show understanding, compassion, and kindness to each other, and avoid holding grudges or push people away, even when they get on our nerves. Kindness can make these stressful and uncertain times more bearable.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that this situation will not last forever, but it will be easier to go through it by being a bit more patient with each other.

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