Making the Most of your Next Breakdown

What do your breakdowns look like? Mine can get pretty ugly.

Everyone experiences emotional breakdowns in different ways. My particular flavor of breakdown includes irritability, anxiety, hopelessness, overwhelm and panic. Physically my heart races, my breathing is shallow and fast, I clench my teeth and my muscles are tense. There is usually a crescendo of all of these before I am able to release everything and calm down.

The breakdown didn’t start when I noticed the anxiety set in.

My breakdowns are usually the culmination of repressed stress, anger and fear. I tend to ignore the physical and emotional impact of stress until it becomes consuming. It’s kind of like a kid who asks for something from a parent at a reasonable tone and increasingly gets louder and louder just to be noticed. I tend to ignore my inner child and that never ends well for either of us.

Everyone breaks down differently

Your breakdown might look completely different from mine. You might internalize the entire process without every letting anyone else know. You might turn to drugs or alcohol to dull the sensations and the feelings. Your breakdown might include running away to escape the pain and frustration.

Here’s what my breakdowns have taught me:

  1. I need to keep my mind and body connected. When I am more mindful, I can see the stress starting to build. I am aware of my body’s tension and the heightened anxiety I am experiencing. I am able to prevent breakdowns when I do the self care I need to stay present.

  2. Ask for help. I’ll be honest, this a lesson I keep learning over and over again. I often minimize the stress I am feeling or tell myself that I should to be able to handle everything without freaking out. That’s just not true. When I ask for help, the relief I feel can stop a breakdown right in it’s tracks.

  3. I deserve to be kind to myself. There have been many occasions when my breakdowns stem from feeling like I’m not good enough or are connected to a particular insecurity. When I accept myself, flaws and all, I don’t have as many reasons to be stressed out.

  4. Find the silver lining. When I calm down, I can look back on my breakdown with curiosity instead of judgement. I can learn how to do things differently going forward. I have an opportunity to be honest with myself about what needs to change and can be grateful that the breakdown created a learning experience for me.

Breakdowns happen.

As much as I learn from breakdowns, that doesn’t stop them from happening. It’s the choices that you make afterwards that have the power to transform your breakdowns into breakthroughs.