We all know the value of taking a break when things get a bit hot under the collar during conflict. Research on brain function during heightened emotion backs up this practice—and suggests that how we use that time during the “break” makes all the difference in the world.
Simply taking a breather is much less effective if we use that time to replay the conflict in our mind. Such replay and rehearsal, when we’re already angry, extends the state of strong emotion.
To truly cool off, studies suggest, we should engage our brains in activity that isn’t about replaying the conflict. So next time you decide to go for a walk after a disagreement, find something else to think about.