Nervous breakdowns are the body's way of saying, "enough!" and taking a break to heal. They are nothing to be ashamed of and many more people experience them than seek treatment for them.
Have you ever had so much on your plate that you simply could not think straight? Or maybe it was one important project that just wasn't clicking. With a time deadline and consequences looming, in addition to everything else in your life, you became overwhelmed and simply shut down. I have assisted many of my life coaching clients with strategies to prevent overwhelm and I've seen that a common thread with stress is the number of things we take on that we have no control over — things that are frankly not our responsibility.
There are several factors that can play into having a nervous breakdown and practical solutions are simpler than you may think. Taking on too much. Pretty much all of us could say, "Welcome to my world," about this one, right? We take on more than we can handle for a number of reasons, some of which are: to stay in good standing at work or in the family; because we truly think we are a super hero with unlimited time and energy; because our personality style caters to people-pleasing; we are prone to self-sacrifice; we fear saying, "No;" or we misunderstand how large the task really is. But not everything requires YOUR attention and efforts. Below are three questions to ask yourself before you say "yes."
- Do I have the time and energy to do this? If this task or project is going to interfere with your mental, emotional or physical health, determine if it is something that could gently be offered to someone else. If it's helpful to you and/or others, and you don't currently have the time or energy, can you adjust something else to make it work? If the answer is no, respectfully say you would love to help out but it's not a good fit for you right now or that you don't have the brain-space to take it on at this time.
- Is this someone elses responsibility? Who does this have to do with and are they doing their part already and simply need assistance or would you be doing it for them, which is enabling rather than empowering? You strengthen yourself and those around you mentally, emotionally and physically by being supportive not by doing things for them.
- Will this serve me in the long-run? Selfish? No. Self-care? Yes, absolutely and you're the only one who is responsible for your self-care (hence the term). If this task or project won't serve to empower who you are becoming or will hold you in your past, diminish your resolve or dampen your spirit, it isn’t a good fit. Will people call you selfish? Only the ones who want to avoid responsibility, accountability or liability. These are the same people who make excuses and they will drag you down eventually whether you do this for them or not. You know the type.
Tips To Help Recover From A Nervous Breakdown
It's important that someone who has experienced a "shutting down" feel safe and know that things are going to be okay. It can be terrifying to feel out of control, listless or unstable. Fortunately, our bodies are excellent at healing; we simply need to nurture them and allow the process. Giving time to heal is key and there are some good things to think about during that time to put your mind at ease.
- You are where you are supposed to be right now — learn the lesson in the situation so you can move on to feel more confident and strong. The lesson in a nervous breakdown may be that it's okay not to be a super hero; that it’s okay to care for yourself first just like the flight attendants tell us to do if the oxygen masks deploy.
- Your emotions create your reality — staying emotionally healthy is the best thing you can do for your mental, physical, relational, spiritual and financial well-being. Our thoughts have emotions wrapped around them and we must pay attention to the core emotion that comes up. Example: You're holding on to a past relationship in your heart. You say you want a new one with a big smile on your face and excited anticipation but if the emotion wrapped around the word "relationship" is pain and longing, you're going to create stress that tears down your body and spirit. Here's an article on how to adjust your emotions.
- It's okay to take whatever time you need to heal — new opportunities will await you if some of the current ones expire while you're healing. In fact they may be the reason for the nervous breakdown. Fear of the unknown keeps even domestic violence victims in place because predictability trumps the unknown even though the unknown will be less painful. Keep in mind that you are supposed to win at your game of life and there are numerous changes that will occur to support you in that win.
- Focus on what you want and feel how it will be as if you already have what you want. Is a new job, relationship or optimal health a passion that seems too far-fetched to even think about? You don't have to know how to get it, all you have to do is focus on how it will feel when you already do. Visualize your ideal day with good health, a job you love and a partner who lights up your soul. Feel the emotions of what it’s like to already have it in detail as often as you can just for 30 seconds or so and the rest will take care of itself – it's universal law and is proven by science.
Be grateful that the body takes breaks to heal rather than staying sick until it dies. Make the most of this healing break and use these suggestions to heal what caused the nervous breakdown. Plenty of sleep, hydration and nutrition is vital for brain and body function and those should be on your to-do list daily for sure!
Put yourself in the company of positive-minded people and allow time to find them even if you're on your own for a while. It's well worth the initial discomfort to become and find positivity in your life. Life is supposed to be fun!
If you liked these strategies for more confidence and peace of mind, you'll probably love my free Life Strategies at PositiveWomenRock.com. Stop by and join the conversation at Facebook/PositiveWomenRock too.
More advice on dealing with anxiety on YourTango:
- The Key To Eliminating Anxiety (Without Medication!)
- Is Social Anxiety Disorder Wrecking Your Marriage?
- Relationship Questions To Ask For Long-Term Commitment