Counselling and group work for depression, stress and anxiety in Sussex

About to boil over?

Being cooped up at home with other people can cause disagreements, frustrations and heated rows at the best of times. In the current heightened state of anxiety and tension it’s perhaps more important than ever to reduce the heat and give everyone chance to pause and take a break before things boil over.

There’s a big difference between taking time out to collect your thoughts and then returning, as opposed to storming out in a temper or tears and leaving important things unsaid. Bad feelings and misunderstandings can linger and become toxic if the conflict is never resolved.

You have a choice – so what’s the difference between taking a time out during an argument and just walking away (leaving the room, house etc)?

With the intention to
return and keep talking
Showing a refusal to engage
1 You can identify your feelings. 1 You are uncertain of your feelings.
2 You communicate with your
partner about your feelings.
2 Your partner is confused about
what’s going on with you.
3 Is an agreed upon strategy
between you and your partner and
was discussed before conflict
occurs (proactive).
3 Is often not an agreed upon
strategy between you and your
partner and happens
spontaneously (reactive).
4 You take responsibility for your
feelings, beliefs and actions during
the conflict.
4 You blame your partner for making
you angry and/or believe your
partner is unreasonable.
5 The intent is conflict resolution. 5 The intent is conflict avoidance.
6 Time away is spent focusing on
self and working to solve an issue.
6 Time away is spent blaming
partner and behaviours that hurt
the relationship (drinking, pouting
and slamming doors).
7 You return with ideas for change
that are focused on ways you can
do things differently.
7 You return either more angry and
frustrated than you were before or
you want to avoid the issue. “I
hope it just blows over if I can lay low”.

Your plan of action

During a calm period talk to others in your household – partner, children, housemates etc – about the Time Out / Walk Out choice. Next time an argument is brewing, either person can call Time Out and take a break. Agree a safe space that can be used in the house or outside if appropriate. Agree that the person taking time out will return to carry on the discussion once they’re ready.