By Heather M. Lardier

We’re All in This Together

Expert Tips on Keeping it Together When Tensions Run High

Children running up the walls. Spouses arguing over toilet paper. The dog barking just as you're about to start a Zoom call.

Tensions are high for all of us as we hit the five-week mark of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's stay-at-home order, and that increases the risk that we'll take out our frustrations on loved ones.

"Life stresses like this pandemic put us all at risk of increased violence, but with pre-planning, de-escalation techniquesand support you can help prevent abuse," says Jennifer S. Schneider, PhD, PMHNP-BC, assistant professor and concentration coordinator for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program at The University of New Mexico College of Nursing.

Schneider offers simple tips we can all use.

Relaxing in the Moment

No one is perfect, and even with a plan in place tensions can escalate. Here are a few simple exercises to reduce your anger in the moment.

  • Count to 10 before responding.
  • Breathe. Try the technique of four-by-four breathing. Inhale to a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4. Then repeat.
  • Walk away. Give yourself the permission to take a time out, especially with children. Even if you cannot leave the house, you can still leave the room.

Planning Ahead

When you reach your boiling point it can be difficult to calm down. Planning ahead can help you avoid an outburst.

  • Identify your triggers. What makes you mad? What pushes you over the edge to your boiling point?
  • Identify your physical and emotional responses to anger. What do you do when you are angry? Everyone is different. Some people see red, others bang on the table or slam the door.
  • Create a safety plan. What will you do when you are triggered to prevent a violent outburst?
  • Ask for support. Give your support system permission to step in. Let them know what gets on your nerves. Tell your support system about your triggers and how they can encourage you to effectively cope with stress and help you de-escalate when you begin to boil over.
  • Self-care. Taking a break and doing something for yourself, even for a few minutes, can reduce stress. Self-care looks different for everyone: it could mean reading a book, going on a hike or relaxing in the New Mexico sun.

Reach Out for Support

It is never too late to recognize your need for support and ask for it.

Remember, we are all in this together - and everyone needs support.