Time out is a simple tool that you can use anytime. It can be particularly useful for couples. Use it if you have heated arguments where one or both of you get very angry. It helps you to stop when you, or the situation, are getting out of hand.
It might be useful when:
- You’re getting worked up or angry
- You feel like the conversation is getting out of hand.
- When the way you, or someone else, acts is getting scary.
- Your head is so full of ideas you don’t know what to say.
Time out works best when both of you have discussed this approach and agreed how you will use it.
What do you do?
Tell the other person you want time out. Say something like; "I’m beginning to feel angry/worked up/overwhelmed, and I want to take time out."
Say when you’ll come back to carry on the conversation `"I’ll be back in an hour and we can talk more then." It might take 30 minutes or an hour for the physical agitation to wear off.
Leave the situation. Go to another room in the house or leave the house altogether. Stay away until you are calm.
Do something physical like walking, running, gardening, or housecleaning. Exercise will help to release the physical tension your feelings produce.
Stay sober while you’re taking time out. Using alcohol or drugs makes it harder to act reasonably when you start your conversation again.
Focus on constructive ways you can act when you start the conversation again. "I’m going to be civil", "I’m going to listen" "I’ll take a few deep breaths if I start feeling worked up".
Return when you said you would. If either of you are not up to talking about it yet, agree on a time when you will.
If you are having to use time out regularly, or if it’s too hard to start the conversations again, look in Contact Us to find a counsellor who can help you learn to manage your actions when you feel angry.