This is why you are snapping at your partner during COVID-19 and what you can do about it.
Emotions are at an all-time high.
As a country..wait….across the world, we are all operating at reduced coping capacity.
We are emotionally flooded, drained, taxed, and our ability to manage our emotions is almost certainly fatigued.
If you are snapping at your kids, your partner, or your loved ones more you are not alone. This is almost a universal experience right now. But why?!
Ever heard of ego-depletion? Self-regulatory fatigue? Probably not, but let me break this down for you.
There is this concept that when you implement a great deal of self-control, you wear out your ability to use self-control. This concept was first mentioned by Roy Baumeister in 1994.
Basically, our ability to self-regulate our emotions, decisions, or impulses is diminished after we have had to self-regulate.
Think of this as a muscle. When you exercise, you fatigue the muscle. The concept is the same applied to our ability to regulate our emotions.
When you exercise self-control, this ability is fatigued (temporarily, albeit fatigued).
Because there is a deep collective stress circulating in our world….the stress of the financial future, the stress of worrying about your health and the health of those you love, the stress of the media, the stress of possibly being out of work, the stress of kids being home from school, the stress of the unknown; we are all self-regulating way more than we are used to.
We are running the self-regulatory process in the background throughout our day, fatiguing this muscle, leaving us with just the leftovers for our kids and our partners.
We are exhausted, mentally fatigued. And our self-regulation skills are suffering.
This, my friends, is why you are more irritable. This is why the littlest things may be setting you off or you just have less patience for those you love.
Keep in mind that it is more important now than ever to forgive quickly, repair quickly, and extend patience, grace, and the benefit of the doubt.
This applies to the others in your life as well as to yourself.
So, I want to share six helpful tips for managing this time with hopefully less arguments because the last thing we need at this time is to create enemies in our homes.
1. PAUSE AND TAKE 3 SQUARE BREATHS.
If you don’t know what a square breath is, let me fill you in on this little gem.
Breathe in for four breaths, hold your breath for four breaths, exhale for 4 breaths and then repeat.
This technique has been researched and shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
2. CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF.
Ask yourself, what am I really reacting to in this moment? Sometimes we just need to slow down and raise our awareness.
Sometimes you need some recovery time to let our self-regulation tank refuel. Maybe this looks like stepping out and talking a walk, locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes, or asking for some support so you can allow yourself some time to reset.
3. GIVE YOURSELF A 30 SECOND TIMEOUT
Pressing pause on the moment and taking a break can help you to avoid making a harsh statement toward your partner or loved one.
4. REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE RAW AND TAPPED OUT.
Extend yourself some grace. We are all beat. Apologize quickly and move on.
5. PLAY YOUR REACTION OUT IN YOUR HEAD + CHOOSE A DIFFERENT RESPONSE.
This is a great addition to number 3. If you can pause for a moment and anticipate how you will feel 30 seconds from now or how you will feel if you act in irritation, you can then slow yourself down enough to choose a different response.
6. THINK ABOUT HOW THE RECEIVER OF YOUR RESPONSE, HOW WILL THIS FEEL TO THEM?
Put yourself in their shoes. Or maybe you’ve already been in their shoes. It’s not a great feeling. Try to use this to calm yourself and choose differently.
Hopefully, these tips were helpful and can save you and your partner or loved ones some hurt feelings.
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