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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself

Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself

Emotional breakdown can present itself in the form of crises when you have reached peak stress in your life.

Signs of a nervous breakdown can present themselves as anxiety attacks, depression or full-blown panic. These emotional disruptions can take you down the wrong road and have you regretting the consequences after it is too late.

At the very least, they will be some of the most unpleasant moments in your life.

The good thing is, you can avoid running off the cliff, because today you will learn 15 quick fixes that will help you re-center in these moments.

1. Choose Your Own Thoughts

You don’t have to agree to every thought that crosses your mind, especially when you are having an emotional breakdown. Many of these thoughts can be pretty tough to swallow.

Maybe nobody has told you this, but you can actually choose your thoughts.

How?

Start by being mindful of all the ideas you are having. Do not get involved with them, simply observe them.

While you’re at it, learn to distinguish good thoughts from bad ones.

Good thoughts will lead you to something better. Bad thoughts are mostly hurtful or they only lead to other undesirable thoughts or emotions.

When you are facing an emotional breakdown, most of the thoughts that will cross your mind will be hurtful and detrimental. These are the kind of thoughts you want to get rid of.

So, how do you do this?

You refuse to interact with the bad thoughts.

There is not much that can be done once you have “thought a thought”. In the end it’s already there, in your mind. But you can refuse to participate with the consequences of having that thought.

You will notice how these thoughts arrive at your mind. But, after you realize that they have no grip on you, they will simply go away; and. you will quickly regain emotional stability.

2. Get Off the Treadmill

Life is like a treadmill, and sometimes, it goes faster than we can handle.

Emotional breakdown is the indicator that tells you the treadmill is just going too fast. And since we cannot use a dial to lower the speed, you must do the next best thing:

Get off the treadmill.

Whenever you start feeling things are just “too much to handle,” simply interrupt whatever it is you are doing. Take 5 minutes for yourself, and for those 5 minutes, do nothing but be with yourself. Ignore everything around you and focus on you.

Taking a small break from tension has never hurt anyone, and it’s a great way to break the downward spiral.

Don’t get too attached to “getting off the treadmill”, because that would be evasion.

3. Take a Step Back and Breathe

A nervous breakdown is a consequence of being far too immersed in your problems.

We get too attached to our issues and our circumstances; and, that’s understandable, because they do affect us. We end up believing they define us; but, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Everything changes when you practice detachment.

How do you do this? Breathe deeply, mentally take a step back, and refuse to see your problems as something that defines you or as part of yourself.

With a relaxed attitude, take a new look at your problems and you will notice a few things:

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  • Because of the accumulated tension, you are having an unrealistic view of your problems.
  • Such problems are simpler than you thought, and there is an answer to everything that you are feeling.
  • If you don’t yet see the answer don’t get attached to the feeling of despair; instead, refuse to take no for an answer and keep looking.
  • The trick is to take a step out of your emotions, because they will cloud your judgment.

Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but your breathing changes according to your mood. It happens to all of us, and it becomes especially shallow when we are going through an emotional breakdown.

Practicing Pranayama (breathing techniques in Yoga) will have an immediate and positive impact on your mind and your emotions.

Although there are many techniques, you only have to remember a very simple exercise:

  1. To interrupt your thinking pattern, quickly exhale until your lungs are “empty” without feeling any strain.
  2. Take 6 seconds to inhale, making sure you expand your belly to allow your lungs to take in as much air as possible.
  3. Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
  4. Then take 6 seconds to exhale as much as possible without straining yourself.
  5. Repeat from step 2.

It’s that simple.

Exhale, 6 seconds to inhale, hold for 3 seconds, 6 seconds to exhale and then repeat.

Keep doing this for at least 5 minutes, and both your mind and your emotions will be in a completely different state.

You can also check out this video on Pranayama:

Pro tip: Try increasing the length of your inhalations and exhalations. You will easily do 10 in and 10 out, but how about trying 15 or 20? Experiment with this and leave a comment about how you felt!

The beauty of Pranayama is that you don’t have to simply believe it works, because you will immediately feel the results. Try it out now!

4. Write It Out

If you feel the tension accumulating, the thoughts running faster and faster, and a nervous breakdown hovering just around the corner… stop everything you are doing, take out a notebook and write.

But that is just one part of the solution. Now you’ll need to understand what you will write about.

First, write down everything you want about the way you feel. Take it out, everything. Then, write the reason why you are overwhelmed, but not without a proper structure. Write down a list of problems that are currently afflicting you.

By this point, you will be feeling much better, but go the extra mile and to finish the exercise by adding a possible solution to each problem in your list.

Most likely, this will take you around five minutes, and it makes a real difference.

5. Talk it Out

Human beings are like pressure cookers. The more you hold in your tension, the stronger the explosion will be.

Talking to someone will not only provide you a valuable extra point of view, by verbalizing how you feel, you will also be taking pressure off yourself and acquiring a new angle on things.

Moreover, sometimes we only need to say it out loud in order to understand the issue and feel better.

Talk about the things that bother you. Talk about your fears and frustrations. And, most importantly, talk about what you plan to do about it all.

6. Talk To Yourself

Self-talk can really get you over the hump if you know how to do it the right way.

Why do we fall into the downward spiral? We do this because we are conducting an uncontrolled ‘mental dialogue’. This is self-talk, and it can be positive or negative.

Take a moment to analyze what your self-talk is like when you are facing an emotional breakdown.

If it is chaotic, it will continue to be chaotic if you don’t do something about it.

Whenever you are facing a crisis, pay attention to your mental dialogue and put order where there is none.

Instead of allowing your mind to wander into terrible places and destructive “what-if’s”, take control and guide yourself to a better place.

Talk to yourself aloud if you need to. Treat yourself as a friend and study all the possibilities. Talk about the things that bother you, and then, as a friend, propose something that will help you.

For some, this will be unusual, but it’s very common in creative people such as inventors and artists.

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Just remember: you are your own friend; so, give yourself a hand if you need it!

7. Do Now, Feel Tomorrow — Taking It One Step at a Time

Take a deep breath and take your emotions out of the equation. Resolve that tomorrow you will have as much emotion as you want, but today you need only mind and action. This is especially helpful when you are overwhelmed. During this time, you will have many things to do, but you will be also faced with a lot of emotions.

What do you do? Resolve that you don’t need an emotional side for now and approach the nervous breakdown with a logical perspective only.

Carefully take a look at your issues, and tackle them one by one until you are out of the crisis.

It’s not that you are forcing yourself not to feel; instead, you are just assigning a certain time slot to deal with the other side of the coin: your emotions.

It’s all about prioritizing. Thinking this way will trick your mind into a completely productive and effective attitude.

In most cases, the trick will work just as expected and you will feel all the tension afterwards, just diminished by the way you handled things.

8. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping

Want an easy fix? Take a walk.

The most illustrious characters in history have been hit by inspiration when talking a walk. And it’s not only historically proven. A study conducted by the American Psychology Association found out that people got more creative after taking a walk. [1]

Walking and physical activities help break the negative emotional cycle and will reframe your reality.

You don’t even have to go outside if you don’t have the time for it, just walk around in circles indoors and it will have the same effect. Combine this with the proper self-talk and your emotions will settle down.

Engaging in more rigorous exercise takes things to an entirely new level. Aim to exercise regularly so that you can keep yourself centered, as many emotions can be released through exercise. And you don’t really need a gym to work out, you will be fine with doing squats and pushups at home.

The important thing is to allow emotions to flow out along with the exercise. With each movement, breathe in and out mindfully, and allow the exercise to help you release negative emotions.

9. Bring It Back to the Present

A emotional breakdown is often a product of catastrophic thinking. It can be a product of intense episodes that become crises or by prolonged intervals of replaying depressing scenarios in our heads. Whatever the case, you must remain mindful of the present.

Thinking about how the past has affected you belongs in the past. Thinking about how worrisome the future might be belongs in the future.

So, stop rehashing the same old issues and stop the what-if thinking. Remind yourself that the only moment you can do anything in is the present moment.

Ask yourself: “What are the things I can do right now to make my situation better?”

It doesn’t have to be the ultimate solution to all your problems, but every little improvement that you can do in the present will help you get through a moment of crisis.

Accept your past and embrace it. Recognize there is nothing you can do about the past. The longer you take to accept that you cannot change the past, the longer the past will have power over you.

If the uncertainty of the future is giving you trouble, be aware that fortunately, you have the power to influence your outcomes.

Don’t think about the future, think about your present best self and the future will play out the way you want it. The past is gone, and the future you want will never come unless you act in the present.

10. Divide and Conquer

Being overwhelmed can play an important role in whether or not you will be facing an emotional breakdown. When overwhelmed, our problems become a huge, formless mass of burden. Eventually this mass becomes invincible.

Often, this mass can make us feel buried under a pile of rubble — too heavy for us to even breathe. This is because we are seeing our problems as a whole.

So, if you are overwhelmed, refuse to face the many “monsters” at once, then focus on just one.

Take one issue, just one. You don’t even have to select it very carefully; tackle the first one that comes to your mind.

It is much simpler to divide your issues one by one than to think about them all at once, and be crushed by their weight alone. While you are at it, don’t allow the other problems to affect you simultaneously. You will have to deal with issue B later, but right now make it only about solving issue A.

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11. Unleash Your Emotions

Sometimes, we just need that moment of raw emotion to guide us. Why? Because too often, our negative emotions end up swept under the rug, slowly accumulating and becoming a subconscious burden. That is, until you burst!

So go ahead and scream, curse, kick a punching bag, cry or whatever… do everything you need in order to release the tension and stress. As long as nobody gets hurt, you will be doing yourself a favor. Your negative emotions also need expression and release.

When you unleash your emotions, a lot of things will start coming to the surface. Those are the issues that you really need to be working on.

12. Activate Affirmations

For many, affirmations are just pipe dreams with magical overtones. If you have used them before, though, you know they work.

But, you know what?  You don’t need to believe in them in order to reap the benefits.

Simply repeat the affirmations either aloud or in your head and most importantly, become aware of what you feel when reciting the affirmations.

Notice I said feel, not believe. Just embrace what it feels like. Be aware at the emotional level during the moment you are repeating your affirmations… you will simply be blown away. But don’t just take my word for it; try it out. In fact, try it out right now.

Take a deep breath and repeat this:

“I will overcome all my problems and find every answer need.”

Now please read it again, close your eyes and pay close attention to your feelings.

Not your mind, not your thoughts, not your doubt… be mindful of your feelings, that’s all. How does it feel?

Now take three deep breaths and repeat:

“Everything is possible for me, my potential is limitless.”

Create your own affirmations according to your own situation and repeat them to yourself when you are feeling down.

Or, you can get inspired by these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

13. Forget Vulnerabilities, Focus on Your Powers

You might be having a very hard time and potentially facing an emotional breakdown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.

In fact, you have everything it takes to defeat it. But you won’t be able to defeat these issues if you focus only on the things that keep you down.

I can’t do this” will surely defeat anyone, no matter how strong and capable. This is a dead end! Therefore, it makes no sense to stay there.

Instead, you must focus on everything you can do, not the things you cannot change.

Think of at least 10 things you can do to make your situation better. 10 may seem like a lot, but you can actually come up with many more–10 is actually quite conservative.

You have a lot of potential, don’t let it be eclipsed by your current situation, because there is no point of comparison.

Stop thinking in terms of your shortcomings, think in terms of your capacity.

14. Everything Has an Expiration Date

Remind yourself that this feeling is temporary. Holding on to this principle has helped me through the most intense anxiety attacks. Because it is absolute truth.

When we are immersed in an emotional breakdown, our vision of the future is distorted… and pretty painful. And the emotional overload makes us think that “this is it”. But it is only a byproduct of the emotions bringing us down, not reality itself.

So, next time when anxiety draws you a picture of your future, simply refuse to take it as a real vision. Recognize how distorted it is. Also, recognize that the nervous breakdown is only a temporary state. And like everything else, this too, shall pass.

This quick-fix may as well be called “wait for the storm to pass,” because that’s what you can do.

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Take every thought and emotion you have as something fictitious. Painful, yes, but only temporary.

You are only going through a very bad time, but you will soon return to your baseline, and then up to a better state of mind. It will pass. So be still and know it will only be temporary.

15. Recenter With Visualization

What good can visualization do if you are having an emotional breakdown!?

Actually, it can do a lot.

Visualization takes you out of the emotional state that is holding you down. It is not just wishful thinking, but a clear vision of the exact goal you are aiming for–even when you don’t yet know it.

Maybe you can’t quite see where you are heading because you are swamped by emotions right now. But, this is precisely when visualization comes in handy. In visualization, there are no barriers. It’s just you, your desire and the constructive use of imagination.

How do you do it and how to make it work?

First, when I say visualize, I don’t necessarily mean that you have to create a crisp, crystal clear vision in your mind. Just thinking about what you want is enough.

Some people are more visual than others, but this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you start immersing yourself in the visualization and start feeling the effects of this positive thinking.

Putting It Into Practice

Close your eyes and imagine a moment in the future where every worry is gone. You handled all the adversity like a pro and now you are living that moment.

What would it feel like? Is there anybody by your side? What are you doing? Why do you feel so happy? What happened to the things that were worrying you so much?

Take a couple minutes to register in detail how everything feels in that vision.

And after you are done, it’s time to make it work.

What solutions were implemented immediately before your visualization? That is, what led to that moment of joy in your life?

What caused it all to culminate on that visualization? Did someone new come into your life? Or maybe somebody left?

Did you finally learn how to deal with that difficult confrontation? What decisions did you make?

Tone Down the Tension

You see what we’re doing? We are reverse-engineering your visualization.

You know where you want to be. Now walk backwards and observe everything that needs to happen so that you can get there. Do it in as much detail as possible until you get to the present moment.

This process of visualization takes the tension off and works the other way around. Don’t focus on your problems, but on the desired outcome.

Visualization plus action will help you defeat a nervous breakdown.

Final Thoughts

These quick-fixes are only the first step to get you over your hump. As you can see, they help you at these difficult moments, but they are not the solution in itself.

Generally speaking, you must face a nervous breakdown with emotional detachment and practice stillness to avoid being shaken.

Nobody likes to be thrown around by emotions, and that’s why you must develop a more stoic approach when it comes to your emotional breakdowns.

Always keep in mind that these periods of intense stress are only temporary states, and that they do not hold absolute power over you.

The more you practice these quick-fixes, the easier you will handle crises in the future.

In the end, it’s not about trying to avoid pain, but to learn how to be bigger than your suffering. Putting these tactics above to use will help you regain control over your emotions.

More About Emotions Management

Featured photo credit: Riccardo Mion via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

George Alonso

Mental Health Expert, creator of the Transcendental Mindfulness Therapy.

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional? Having an Emotional Breakdown? 15 Ways to Re-Center Yourself 9 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Calm Your Mind How to Handle Relationship Fights to Connect Deeper with Your Partner Why You Keep Getting Into Toxic Relationships (And How to Stop)

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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