Written by: Esther Ng
An emotional meltdown is the result of excessive stress or unpleasant feelings that have either been suppressed, mismanaged or are simply just overwhelming. In today’s day and age, an emotional meltdown is not an uncommon encounter as depression and anxiety, among many other difficult mental health disorders, impacts millions of people on a daily basis. As such, this is an all-too-human experience.
That doesn’t mean an emotional meltdown is only reserved for those who are severely struggling with their mental health. An emotional breakdown does not discriminate, every one of us (including our personal heroes) are vulnerable to it. With that being said, we’ve compiled a list of 5 things you can do to regain a sense of control if you ever find yourself in such a situation.
Listen to your body’s warning signs
Oftentimes, your body will warn you that a full-fledged breakdown is on its way before it happens. Your body may be sending you signals in the form of tight muscles, headaches, or a general sense of uneasiness. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and take the necessary steps to regain control, such as calling a loved one for help or leaving the current situation you’re in.
Acknowledge your thoughts as mere thoughts, not truths.
When you’re going through an emotional meltdown, higher levels of cortisol (stress hormones) are present and your judgement will most likely be clouded as you feed on the worst-case-scenarios in your mind. It goes without saying that this will hinder your ability to think clearly and fairly. Here’s the good news, your thoughts don’t always accurately represent what is true about you and the situation you’re in. You’ll often realise upon reflection that most of your negative thoughts lack evidence to be true. Therefore, you don’t have to believe everything you think.
Don’t justify your breakdown
It is critical to recognise that an emotional breakdown is only a symptom of a larger problem. However, when you're in the midst of a breakdown, it's difficult to pinpoint the source. There isn't always a simple answer to your breakdown. It could be a buildup of different stressors over the course of your life. Remove the additional burden of justifying your breakdown while you’re going through it. Allow yourself to process your feelings without judgement.
Put it on paper
The act of writing down your feelings can be a symbolic gesture that allows you to unload the weight of your emotions onto a safe space. It could also shed some light on why you're feeling the way you do.
Focus on your breathing
If you're breathing quickly and your mind is racing with a slew of negative thoughts-bring yourself back to the present moment by focusing on your breathing. Try the following exercise:
- Gently breathe in slowly for 5 counts through your nose and allow your abdomen to expand while keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- Gently exhale through your mouth for 5 counts and keep your jaws relaxed.
- Repeat the process for as many rounds as you’d like and keep your focus on each count you take.
In the midst of an emotional turmoil, we hope you’ll be gracious towards yourself and take heart that this too shall pass.