Sometimes, when tempers run high, I’ve found that the best thing I can do is retreat for a few minutes. For me, counting to 10 isn’t enough–usually because I can’t calm down enough to actually do so in the heat of an argument or just when chaos is whirling all around. I have to physically remove myself from the situation. We have a one-story house, so it’s easy enough for me to go into my room, close the door or put up a baby gate (just a deterrent at this point, but one that the kids usually respect) and sit and breath until I calm down. Sometimes I pray about the situation, sometimes I try to take my mind off of it for a little bit. When I choose the latter, it helps me to read, but I’ve found that picking up a novel is not such a good idea. Once I do that, I’m liable to try to hide in my room for the rest of the afternoon, and that doesn’t actually help whatever situation is going on in the rest of the house. So I’ve got a couple of poetry collections laying around that I pick up to read one-three poems from, and then I go out and try again.
The current collection is Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor. We’ve had it for a long time, but I’ve just started going through it systematically in the last year. I like the fact that it’s a collection of many different poets, especially since I’m still new to reading poetry.
It’s good for me to recognize when I’ve reached my breaking point and to get out of the situation long enough to come back with better grace before figuring out what to do.