Tips for using Calming Cards
You want to talk with your partner in a way that you will feel heard, they will understand you, and together you feel closer.
In order to communicate calmly, here's a review of the four clear steps you need to follow:
Learn to recognize your unique “Flooded” feelings
Sit quietly and think back to the last time you remember getting into a fight with your partner, or anyone else. How did your body feel?
- Which muscles felt tense?
- Did you feel hot or cold anywhere?
- Did you feel your heart beat faster or harder?
- Did you notice any feelings in your stomach, chest, throat, or face?
Continue taking note of your unique symptoms that you’re Flooded as time goes on. Anytime you start to feel like you’re getting into a fight, or soon after you realize you were headed into a fight or got into a fight, take a few moments to note how your body felt.
Remember these feelings! They are your own personal early-warning signals that you’re getting Flooded.
Stop talking and take a break
As soon as you recognizing your signals that you’re getting Flooded, stop talking, excuse yourself, and take a break.
And I mean – right away! Don’t try to fix it or explain it or repeat yourself or have the last word.
Just stop. Say: “Honey, I need to take a break.”
If you’re able to say more words, you could say “Honey, I feel myself getting flooded. I’m going to go take a break and calm down. I’ll talk to you more later.”
Calm Down And Relax
The key to calming down when you’re flooded is to realize that it’s your body that has to calm down first, and then your mind will follow. You’re just not able to calm your mind all on its own… and you also have to step in and not let your mind dwell on the conversation that just turned into a fight.
To focus on calming down your body you can use your preferred method of deep relaxation if you have one, or try out one or more new relaxation ideas. Whichever you choose, tell yourself to take deep breaths, and say to yourself phrases such as “I’m calming down;” “I’m relaxing;” “I’m breathing slowly;” “I’m letting it go.”
Studies show that coloring is an excellent and effective way to quickly and enjoyably calm the body and distract the mind. Your Calming Cards are small so that you can color them in about 15-20 minutes. This is the ideal amount of time to relax enough so that your body isn’t primed to jump back into an argument.
On one side of each Calming Card is the graphic you can color in, with any pen or pencil, or your favorite coloring set. On the reverse side are helpful reminder instructions on what to do.
Print and cut out more than one set; keep some in your wallet and some at your bedside or desk drawer.
Tips for using your Calming Cards
→ Remember that your focus, especially in the beginning of your break, is relaxing your body.
→ While you are coloring, take slow deep breaths, and think to yourself words and feelings such as "Relax," "I'm calming down," "I'm feeling more peaceful."
→ As you are coloring, intentionally bring your attention to the physical process and enjoyment of coloring. Have fun coloring in, or outside, the lines. Enjoying the shapes. Play with coloring.
→ Once your body starts to relax, your mind can pay attention to the words on the card. As you're ready, welcome in the reminders of love of your partner, and being ready to talk soon.
→ Consider and words of repair, connection, apology, and love you might want to write on the card to give to your partner when you're finished. You don't have to give your Calming Card to your partner, but when you want to, reflect with your now-calm heart and mind what you might like to say.
Other relaxation ideas for you to try include:
- deep breathing
- soothing yoga
- progressive muscle relaxation
- taking a hot bath or shower
Talk later when you're all the way relaxed again
When you’re all the way relaxed again – usually it takes 15-20 minutes, not just a few minutes – check with your partner and see if they feel relaxed too. Ask if they’re ready to talk again. If you’re both not quite ready, set aside a time to talk when you’ll both start out feeling calm and relaxed.
Now that you have the tools to relax, here’s what to do next time you realize you feel flooded:
- Stop talking (no really – STOP!)
- Excuse yourself
- Allow your body and mind to settle and calm while you quietly color in the card; Remind yourself to breathe deeply, and let any thoughts of the fight drift away
- After about 20 minutes you’re ready to return to your partner and ask for a do-over!
When your body has sensed danger and turned on the Fight or Flight response, calm communication just isn’t possible anymore.
You’ve learned that you need to pay attention to your signals that you’ve gotten flooded, so that you can stop talking, take a break, relax and calm down, and then return to your partner when you’re both ready for connected conversation.
Print out your Calming Cards as many times as you’d like so you can use this pleasant and effective tool.