Last night I had my 4th or maybe 5th mental breakdown of this year. I can’t even keep track anymore. If you’re unfamiliar, a mental breakdown is a period of mental distress. Similar to a panic attack but it sometimes varies in intensity. I find panic attacks to be way more intense. Usually it’s hard to breathe. In my experience, panic attacks are more physical and Mental breakdowns are more, well, mental.
I have mental breakdowns when I’m severely overwhelmed. It happens when I put way too much on my plate and I’m not conscious of how much it’s hurting me until it’s too late. Sometimes my mental breakdowns are… kind of… funny? Not only am I crying, but I”m laughing. It’s funny that I’m so emotional and it’s funny that it came out of nowhere. I don’t know if that’s true for every one but, definitely for me. Panic attacks? Not funny.
Here are 5 tips that help me in the moment of a breakdown:
1. Find someone to talk to ASAP.
When I’m breaking down, I often need someone to vent to. I just have to get all of my daunting, crazy and even sometimes silly thoughts out in the open. Sometimes when I hear what’s coming out of my mouth, I realize things aren’t as bad as they seem or I realize that I’ve been harboring feelings for far too long. Find someone you can open up to. A partner, family member or friend. If you have a good therapist, shoot her an email. It’s instant relief when you can get everything on your mind, out in the open.
2. Let it all out.
Cry, baby. Cry. Get it out. Don’t hold anything in. You’re going to feel really exhausted after, and you should. It’s like when you wring a soaked towel out. The more you hold it in, the longer it will take to move forward and you risk another breakdown the next day.
3. Treat Yo-Self
Get yourself a pumpkin spiced latte, a scoop of ice cream, candle from Anthropologie or a glass of wine. Honestly I don’t think we treat ourselves enough in our lives. Having a mental breakdown means you haven’t been taking care of yourself. Period. That’s okay. It happens! Buying yourself a nice treat, even something cheap, is an easy way to get back in the self care saddle.
4. Write about it
I journal every day. If you want to read more about how journaling helps your mental health, you can read my blog post about it [here.] Sometimes you just need to get it on paper. Writing down how I’m feeling has been one of the most useful tools I’ve ever used. It’s helped me through some of my toughest break ups actually. I’m a big fan of writing a letter you never send. I’ve written letters to exes that I kept in a folder on my computer, went to sleep, woke up the next day and felt like a whole new person. I swear by it. There’s a science to writing out everything that’s going on inside, especially if you feel like nothing that comes out verbally can compare.
5. Take a walk
A simple piece of advice but it works every time. Studies show that 30 minutes of exercise a day keeps anxiety at bay. Walking releases the brains natural painkiller – endorphins. There’s truth to the whole “Take a walk and cool down” saying. I love a brisk walk around the block. It makes me feel oddly accomplished and more importantly, calm.
If you’ve never had a mental breakdown in your life, consider yourself lucky but not completely out of the woods. Every one feels stress and anxiety. Every one gets overwhelmed. If you find yourself breaking down, maybe even laughing crying and feeling like your head is going to explode, try some of these tricks. I can promise at least one will soothe your troubled mind.
Self care, self flare.