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Have Healthier Moments of Tension

By Genevieve Smith

Arguments can happen in your relationships, especially with loved ones. As they say, it’s not love if you haven’t survived at least one tense experience. Arguments, however, can take a toll on our physical health. Instead, finesse them into discussions to avoid a heart-pounding altercation. There are different argument styles, and each affects the body differently. Could you incorporate some simple tips to preserve your well-being and your relationships?

What Kind of Fighter Are You? 

There are the tantrum tossers and the stonewallers. Each come with physical signs that preface a reaction to being upset. Those who turn red and yell raise their risk of high blood pressure, chest pain, and heart disease. While a resting heart rate falls between 60 to 100 beats per minute, the heart can climb to over 100 bpm amidst an argument. Meanwhile, those inclined toward the silent treatment tend to log high numbers of chronic back pain. This is due to a tendency to tense upper body muscles during frustration. These findings come from a 20-year study evaluating the fighting styles of couples.

How to Catch Yourself 

If you run hot, you may feel your heart rate creep up, face flush, words flood into your mind. Those of the cooler variety tend to tense up, crunching shoulder muscles and grinding down their teeth. Be aware of what physical signs predict your initial reactions to anger and hit the pause button. Ask to take a 30. When we engage in tense situations amidst anger, less rational thoughts are typically the first to be expressed. Create a brief period of separation for the sake of a worthwhile conversation. As recommended by John Gottman, PhD, to O, The Oprah Magazine, “Find some peace; angry types might want to take a few deep breaths; stonewallers can do some stretches and neck rolls.”

End With a Level Head for Your Health

Once you’ve found a calmer place internally, take the lead on a tense situation by speaking of your feelings. Back them up with why. Tell your partner how they can make you happy, according to Julie Schwartz Gottman, PhD, Washington State Psychologist of the Year. All the while, take a sharp steer away from insults; something straightforward will be less emotionally-taxing for everyone involved.

Misunderstandings, dissatisfaction, and fear can lead to tense situations between partners. Communication is key, and it’s crucial to wade through the tough stuff. While you’re in the thick of it, it’s possible to lose your head or shut down, and either default is rough on the health. Catch your pre-programmed reactions, ask for a brief breather, find a calm space, and return ready to keep things cool as you and your partner discuss the solution to a problem. Everyone’s health will benefit from the change, and you can extend the shelf life of your relationship.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Apex, N.C.

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