Many people are dealing with a level of stress that is at epidemic proportions. The pandemic has accelerated what was already problematic for many in our society. While we may not be able to relieve the stress for others, we should at least not add to it. What we say and how we say it can hinder or help.
It is so easy for some to judge, and to sound judgmental when talking with others. If we could just listen more and better and hold our comments until the other person asks for our opinion, we would have less conflict. Instead of doing this, too often some become directive, telling the other person what they should do. Instead of acting upon the knowledge of “Walk a Mile in my Shoes,” and showing more empathy to others, some become arrogant, giving others unsolicited advice. This is not helpful, and in fact, can be hurtful.
Dr. Laurie Santos, the Yale Professor whose “Happiness” course is the university’s most popular course, lists the following tips for living a life of well-being:
- Practice Deep Breathing
- Do Acts of Kindness
- Focus on What You Control
- Exercise, Eat Healthy, Sleep Well
- Actively Practice Gratitude
These tips for living a life of well-being can help us manage stress and conflict when dealing with difficult people and situations.
#1, “Practice Deep Breathing” is always good advice. When one hears something from someone else that could precipitate a reaction, breathing deeply can turn that reaction into a state of calm.
#2, “Do Acts of Kindness” is one way to get outside oneself and help others. Nothing helps us to overcome the stress of life more than reaching out and helping someone else.
#3, “Focus on What You Control” has direct applicability to managing stress and conflict. While we may want to, we cannot control the behavior of others. When others are difficult, we do not have to get caught up in it. What we can control is how we respond, and what power we allow the behavior of others to have over us.
#4, “Exercise, Eat Healthy, and Sleep Well” are important in keeping us physically healthy. When we are physically healthy it is much easier to be emotionally healthy.
#5, “Actively Practice Gratitude” helps us to focus on our lives, being grateful for what we have, all of it; even our problems. We only have to think of someone who is no longer alive, and who would love to be, to know that life itself is the greatest gift. Being grateful for life is our duty. We owe this to those no longer with us.