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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Signs of a Nervous Breakdown (And How to Survive It)

Signs of a Nervous Breakdown (And How to Survive It)

Life is full of contrast, which means that up’s and downs are a given. Although when the lows get to a point where there’s an inability to function and getting through the day is questionable, attention to your mental wellness is much needed.

Whether you feel like you’ve come close to breaking down completely or not, this article can help you identify symptoms that frequent negative mental states. With awareness, you can learn about symptoms and gain knowledge about self care practices in order to help boost your energy and get you back on your feet when you feel like falling apart.

With that said, it’s important to realize that we all need help at one time or another in life. It’s unfortunate that a lot of us walk around carrying large amounts of stress and worry that we keep to ourselves because we have created the story that “we should” be able to handle things on our own. That could not be the furthest thing from the truth.

I believe and have seen for myself that a strong and successful person knows when to get and ask for help.

As you’ve probably heard before, everything in life has a process and takes time, as does getting to the point where you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Little ways of not listening to your needs and self care eventually lead to huge cracks that become apparent within your mood and the overall state of your life. Not functioning properly is a sign that you’re off and out of balance. To what degree is what determines how close you are to breaking down completely emotionally.

However, being on the verge of a nervous breakdown is a severe state of mind and body. It deserves and demands serious attention.

Signs of a Nervous Breakdown

Awareness is always the first step toward helping yourself, therefore here are some tell tale signs that your attention to your self care and wellness is needed, like STAT.

1. You Feel Totally Out of Balance

When your mental, physical and spiritual self is out of balance, you will not be functioning well.

Being off balance will effect and show up in all ares of your life: relationships, work, health, etc.

Some of us can feel “off” for a day or so and then find our footing. Even if your “off” lasts for weeks and months at a time, this can be a sign that there’s a bigger issue to address.

2. Your Self Care Is Close to Zero

The energy that you give toward your self care acts as the foundation of how you show up in your life. When you’re struggling emotionally, often, self care is the first thing to go.

Forgetting to eat, eating too much, sleeping too much or sleeping too little. Eating unhealthy foods, not exercising and moving your body properly and not connecting socially with others. These are all ways that you neglect taking good care of yourself, which eventually will have a major consequence.

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3. You Lost Your Joy

When you lose your excitement and curiosity for life, it’s hard to feel and be happy.

Note to self: Nothing is worth losing your joy over.

Living to others expectations, doing for everyone other than yourself, feeling unheard in your relationships and feeling lost in your life are all ways that joy can get depleted.

Feeling joy is what living a good life is all about, so when it’s gone that’s a huge red flag.

4. Your Physical Body Is Doing All Sorts of Strange & Unhealthy Things

Your physical body holds your hard emotions, which is why stress that stays stuck in the physical body, often turns into illness.

Your body is always communicating with you via your symptoms. Your body is and will always be talking to you, sometimes screaming if you don’t listen initially.

When you’re nearing a nervous breakdown, here are some physical signs that you can experience:

  • Tight muscles
  • Sleep disturbance
  • High Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite or increase
  • Reaching for substances/activities to cope or fill a void whether it be alcohol, drugs, food, sex, etc.
  • Scattered energy, going to fast, fight or flight energy
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression, extreme sadness
  • Mood swings

Pay attention to your body because it’s always talking to you through your physical sensations and symptoms.

5. You Have Thoughts of Self Harm

Thoughts of self harm and getting to a point where you’re seriously thinking about taking your own life is a serious matter. This state of mind needs professional attention and is a clear tale sign that you’ve hit the bottom and need help getting back up.

Now that you have some awareness around what entails the brewing and growth of living at a mentally unbalanced level, it can be life changing for you to have tools to get yourself back into balance, back into your body and back into a more peaceful state of mind.

How to Deal with a Nervous Breakdown

Here are some ways to get your good vibes to start flowing again:

1. Press the Pause Button

Learning, universally, to go slower in your life will be to your advantage.

Take time to do the little things that bring you joy because, guess what, it’s usually a combination of all the little things lumped together that elevate your level of happy.

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Another side effect of going slower in your life is the ability to see, hear and view things from another perspective. When you’re walking the path of life vs. sprinting, your eye has more time to observe and retain information presented.

Looking at your life and taking the time to slow and pause long enough to catch your breath, and make sure that you’re going in a direction that you want to go is so important.

When we pause long enough, we turn off that “auto pilot” function from within which lets us see if what we’ve been doing “just because it’s what we do” is serving us.

When in doubt: Pause and then proceed

2. Remember That Less is More

There’s a false message in our world that more is better and it’s just not so.

Quality over quantity, friends.

Think about the things in life that really matter. You can have thousands of “friends” on social media, but when you’re in the mist of a major life struggle, who do you call?

Value what really matters. Take the time to trim the fat out of your life that is just created noise, not joy.

3. Clean House

Once you’ve gone over the reality of what you’re giving your time too with a fine toothed comb, it’s time to clear out and rid of what’s not serving you. I’m referring to both an internal and external level clean out.

Look at your living space, work space, and internal world. I recommend starting with cleaning out external objects as often it’s easier for us to work with things we can see, touch and feel.

Clean out items and rid of objects that are simply just taking up space. A great book to read to inspire and help you navigate this task is: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

4. Clean Up Your Mind Space

After you’ve cleared your external space, you might feel and have more of a knowing for where to begin with your internal mind space, as they are connected.

I would point you toward looking at your habits, your relationships and generally speaking, how you spend the hours of your life. What you spend your precious time doing is what creates your reality. Change your habits and you will change your life.

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Pay attention to the internal thoughts and voice that is playing constantly in your head. Get in tune with what this voice is saying, as if it’s separate from you, an inner roommate, if you will.

Spend time evaluating if this is a negative or positive roommate. If you notice that the messages and words from this voice are critical, that’s great information for you to become aware of. If you notice that your internal voice happens to be bringing you down, you can work on changing the tape to something way more uplifting.

A thorough look at your core beliefs can also be of great benefit. What we believe to be true about ourselves dictates our thoughts, which influences our actions and creates our reality.

Our beliefs are really that big of a deal. They have the power to make or break us, therefore, make sure you have laid down some pretty solid beliefs for yourself.

5. Get in Nature Baby

I cannot express this enough. Getting out where you’re exposing yourself to the natural rhythm of the life cycle and breathing in fresh air offers a huge reset.

Making a point to get in nature as much as possible, especially for those of you working in tight, closed office environments is beyond important for your health and mood.

Being in natural elements is healing: Straight up. Consistently giving yourself the gift of being in nature will help elevate your mood and enhance your level of functioning. It’s the best thing for the health of your body, mind and spirit.

6. Move Your Body

If you’re not moving your body in some shape or form regularly, that can be a huge reason why your mind and body feel so unstable.

Getting your blood pumping and releasing toxins and negative energy greatly strengthens your life force.

Beyond inviting you to go to a gym (Go for it if that’s your jam), I invite you to tap into an activity that you really connect to and enjoy.

Best case scenario is that this activity is outside, so you can get a two for one with exposing yourself to nature as you do something healthy for your physical body.

Walk the beach, skateboard, take a mountain trip to ski or snowboard, go surf, paddle board, kayak, go hike, do yoga, dance, bike ride, etc. The options are endless, but my biggest encouragement is for you to find an activity that you feel connected too.

Moving your physical body is a key component to being a healthy person.

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7. Trust Life

Often we become very stressed, fearful and full of anxiety, all things that can lead to a complete mental break, when we’re living in a doubtful and lack mindset.

Believing that we have to be the ones to figure everything out is a substantial amount of pressure for us to put on ourselves.

Let me invite you for a minute to think about a situation in your life that was a really amazing, exciting and special moment. I’m going to go out on a limb and ask you if you had to do anything to create that moment? Or, did the moment just come and go without your need to direct it, orchestrate it and make it be?

My point with asking you this is that, often, the unexpected and special moments of life are not planned. As much as we’re conditioned in this life to plan in order to succeed, I want to offer you the perspective that whatever is meant to be with you will find its way to you. This doesn’t involve you having to stress or work for it to come. Sometimes, the reason we are struggling so intensely is because we’re holding on too tight and trying to control.

With that said, I’m not suggesting that all you have to do is just sit, do nothing and get what you want. Nope. Your “work” is to do your best to take care of yourself and honor where your curiosity and happiness are pointing.

By attending to yourself, doing good things for yourself, making good choices for yourself, you will naturally be lead to more positive and fruitful opportunities and people that will continue to improve the quality of your life.

Final Thoughts

To sum this all up, if you’re struggling currently with your emotional state and have enough awareness to be reading this article, you also have the opportunity to start doing things to help turn your situation around.

Like now.

Acknowledging what’s happening to you and seeking help, while slowly chipping away and letting go of the habits and ways of thinking that are holding you back will help you gain the momentum to start improving your life.

Remember, little by little. There’s no need to overwhelm yourself toward creating a better state of mind. Start slow and begin to do one small thing that’s supporting your growth, rather than taking from it. Begin there.

Cheers to you creating consistent and healthy new habits that will help change the quality of your life and mind, which will ultimately help you to feel relief in a time of heavy emotional pain.

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kim Egel

Kim Egel is a licensed therapist whose private practice is centered around the concepts of the mind, body & soul connection.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, when it does, it takes over, making it difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion, and self-care ideas go out the window.

However, this is the moment when self-care is the most important. When you notice that you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or powerful emotions, it’s time to get back to a sense of balance by showing yourself love and compassion.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response through the stress hormone, cortisol.

According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios.

Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as life-threatening, and we become locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

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On a mental and emotional scale, stress affects your thoughts, feelings, and ultimately your behavior. Everything is interconnected. When stress takes a toll on our bodies, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

Self-Care Ideas to Combat Stress

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being, so it’s important to turn to self-care ideas in these moments.

One exercise to get this under control is called a brain dump, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up.

Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph.

Don’t focus on how it looks or how well it’s organized. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

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Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are—they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body, mostly in our neck, shoulders, and hips. If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America[3]:

“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week for your mental and physical health. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why spending time in a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

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In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution and a great addition to our self-care routine.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice)

4. Interrupt Your Day

When it comes to self-care ideas, this may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also help you de-stress

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As I said above, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing to feel good.

5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, a Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture[4].

Moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional.

In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment, making it a beautiful way to squeeze in self-care!

You can find even more stress management techniques in the following video:

Final Thoughts

Stress is, unfortunately, a common part of every life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state.

This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed again, but they will certainly help you manage it better and offer amazing health benefits along the way.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress
[4] Medical Acupuncture: Does Acupuncture Reduce Stress Over Time? A Clinical Heart Rate Variability Study in Hypertensive Patients

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