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The Connection Between Conflict & Wellness

Conflict and Wellness

There is a powerful, intimate, and often overlooked connection between conflict and wellness. This brief introductory article explores how conflict can negatively impact wellness, why this happens, and how you can implement solutions to help better manage the conflict in your life right now.

When Problems Occur

Everything appears fine, and then suddenly your co-worker, spouse, or boss just snaps at you. Sometimes, it appears that conflict arises seemingly “out of nowhere”. People who are not taking care of their needs often seek help from others to get that need met, but do it unconstructively by lashing out.

Thus, if your boss says something terse, it is typically a need that is being expressed. But you are still stung. And then, the stress transferred from your boss to you can cascade forward, impacting others you encounter.  If you don’t take steps to manage conflict as it comes into your life, you run the risk of passing it on.

Your mental and physical state dramatically affect the degree to which you can manage conflict—both internally and externally.

Why Does Conflict Emerge?

Stress is often the root of many conflicts. Stress triggered by beliefs or by economic, personal, or business challenges can quickly trigger conflict. Business practices and policies that encourage abuse, overwork, and little to no autonomy can “squeeze” employees, creating a great deal of stress.

Employees also contribute to the problem when an unhealthy culture is encouraged. For its part, employers are often complicit in enabling such behaviors. For instance, flagrant disregard for self-care in the form of sleep deprivation (“I pulled an all-nighter again”) is often seen as a badge of honor. This, in turn, triggers poor decisions, causes relationships to deteriorate, and prevents those involved from maximizing their potential by co-opting energy that could be spent on work.

Our mental and physical states also dramatically effect how we interact with others. With something as simple as making sure you have eaten lunch, you could avoid lashing out and consequently hurting a relationship.


Remember, just knowing is not enough. Without action there is no change. While very simple, these basic solutions can deliver quick and effective relief:

1)    3 Pillars of Health. The following three pillars of health are the first elements you should dial-in to make sure you are effectively addressing stress. Like the three legs of a stool, they provide the minimum pillars to support you in a healthy lifestyle. Making sure you get adequate levels of these basic human necessities will help you move on to more advanced stress reduction techniques:

  1. Sleep—typically at least 8 hours a night, but the quality and timing of sleep can matter more than the quantity
  2. Exercise—check with your doctor first for guidance before starting any exercise plan, especially if you suffer from chronic pain. Generally, even low-impact exercise such as walking for 30-45 minutes a day can deliver excellent results
  3. Nutrition—make sure you drink adequate water and consume an appropriate amount of calories from nutritious sources. Generally, increasing your vegetable intake to at least one per meal can make a big difference.

2)    Mindfulness/Meditation

  1. Consider or re-start a simple meditation practice (watch for the upcoming how-to article)
  2. Practice observing what you are thinking. Instead of just doing what everyone else is doing, try quietly watching how your mind is processing what is happening in front of you.
  3. Practice observing how your body feels. Consider this list to check in with yourself; ask yourself, are you:
  •  Too warm?
  • Hungry?
  •  Need to use the bathroom?
  • Feeling pain?
  • Clenching muscles?
  • Holding your breath?

3)    Breathing. Practice “Simple Breath”. One repetition is the following:

a) Breathe in through your nose for 6 seconds, expanding your belly

b) Hold for 3 seconds

c) Exhale the air out of your mouth for 6 seconds.

One set is 4 reps. If you are feeling moderate stress, try doing at least 2 sets. If you are feeling very stressed out, try doing 4 sets.

4)    Biofeedback. Practice observing and measuring the feedback that your body signals

  • For instance, start a sleep log or utilize a sleep app that may help you to better monitor your sleep cycle for optimal restful sleep

5)    Clear Communication. Practice effective communication skills to help you communicate to others about your wellness needs. For instance, if you are feeling hungry, instead of arguing with your spouse or boss, explain that you need to take a break for a meal.

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