If You’re Having a Nervous Breakdown
Nervous Breakdown? Do this right now:
- Find a safe place.
- Sit down and close your eyes.
- Slowly breathe in and out in a comfortable rhythm.
- Make sure you’re not chest breathing, but expanding and contracting your abdomen.
- Begin to watch your breathing, in and out.
- Breathe in for a comfortable count.
- Breathe out for a comfortable count.
- The out breath should be a bit longer than the in breath.
- As you breathe, feel your heart pounding.
- Keep doing this for a few minutes, until you feel calm.
- Picture and FEEL your heart slowing down.
- Keep doing this until you feel calm.
What is Happening During a Nervous Breakdown?
During a nervous breakdown, sometimes called a panic attack, your fight, flight, or freeze response is going crazy. You don’t have much control over this, or so it would seem. You are freaking out and scared, and feel like you need to escape your own life, or worse, feel like you’re having a heart attack or dying.
Your heart is racing, your palms are sweaty, you have tunnel vision, your hearing is focused and extremely sensitive, you are very sensitive to light, you might feel like you have to go to the bathroom, or in extreme cases, you might have already gone, your mouth is dry, and your limbs are cold.
Any sense of hunger is gone, even if you haven’t eaten in hours. Your jaw, neck, and shoulders are really tense, as are your fists. Oh, and you’re probably shaking, visibly… right?
Wanna know a secret?
You Are Not Dying, Most Likely
What you ARE experiencing is an extreme and prolonged stress response. This is how we survive. This is how we are still alive as a species on Earth. It’s what’s kept us from getting eaten for thousands of years.
Welcome to being human, and having an overreaction. It’s not your fault. Some people are wired that way. You, like most of us, were never taught the basic things about your mind or body. You’ve been told for years that there’s something wrong with you, or the famous, “stop thinking so much”, or, “just relax, man, it’s all good”, or the worst, “did you go off your meds again.”
Yeah, it’s that easy. Why don’t you just stop your sympathetic nervous system that kicks on automatically when you feel a threat, and just activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which we should all be able to do, right? Sorry, it’s the luck of the draw, and you got an out of balance nervous system. So be it. There are ways to fix it.
You Don’t Have to Suffer
We understand so much more about anxiety, panic, and nervousness now than at any time in our recorded past. We know what triggers anxiety and panic. We also know about the two sides of your nervous system that are responsible for ramping you up and calming you down.
One is your sympathetic nervous system. This is your tripwire, and what ultimately saves your ass when you’re in a bind, but also produces your crazy anxiety and panic. This is a great thing, but, like great things, too much is bad for us. In your case, terrible for you.
Then, there’s the parasympathetic nervous system. This is your best friend, unless there’s lava coming into your living room.
Then it can just get you killed.
In most instances though, it’s what shuts off your anxiety and panic. It’s responsible for shutting off your adrenaline valve and restoring you to your normal, restorative, calm zen state. This is your off switch.
I’d written EXTENSIVELY about beating anxiety here.
How To Flip Your Switch
The most basic and arguably best way is through the exercise at the beginning of this article. Give it your faith and trust, as this can flip your switch quickly if you let it. It ushers in the “relaxation response”, and calms you down.
You need to realize that you are fine. You are normal. You just need tools to be able to handle what you were given.
Look around right now. Are you in any physical danger? Most likely not, if you’re reading this. BUT, If you are, put this down and get out of danger right now if you can, then continue reading.
Now, realize that you’re not in any danger. Sure, you are out of danger, but why do you STILL feel anxious? Chemicals, baby, chemicals.
Your perception of the past or future is clouding your present and you are living in regret or worry. You equate things in your past or possibilities in your future as having the ability to screw with your present. You think a mistake you made in the past, or some possible future event will hurt you now, right?
Think about it if you don’t see it. When you’re anxious, your higher logic and reasoning shuts off and you are basically reduced to being just a mammal living on a “dangerous planet.” Again, normal.
So, now you know you’re not in danger, you feel anxious, and you see that something you did last year will catch up with you now, or the test you’re taking this week will determine everything about your future, or something similar.
Focus on what I’m going to say now:
While you think that everything rides on ONE thing happening in the future, or you regret one big mistake you made in the past that “killed” your present, this is usually NEVER the case. Life is usually not linear like that. If one door closes, another always opens IF you’re receptive to it. So how do you become receptive to it? Learn to listen and FEEL.
This is Where Mindfulness Comes In
Ok, if you’re having a panic attack right now, this is not going to help you much. In that case, do the above exercise till you inevitably will feel calmer. Breathe deeply and with your belly, not your chest.
What mindfulness will do is allow you to hedge against the storm when it comes. It’s like building yourself a tornado shelter in the winter, when tornadoes usually don’t come. You build it deep underground and fortify to withstand the subsonic winds of an F5 tornado, or a Class 5 hurricane.
Sure, there are great programs out there like Panic Away, which work for many people. You can get that and it will help, most likely, as it has for many, but mindfulness and meditation will fortify you and change your brain wiring, amount of grey matter in your prefrontal cortex, and wire new paths in your brain to make you more resilient to stress and the detrimental response you feel when you have an attack or nervous breakdown.
How to Learn Mindfulness and Meditation
Start here and have patience. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now, and I feel that I still have so much more to learn about myself in regard to stress and emotion. We are a very complex species, and thus have our work cut out for us. Just watch the news and see how much work we need.
As always, I encourage you to join the Practicing Mindfulness Newsletter and READ through the PDF Instant Mindfulness. Use those techniques inside and see how they work for you.
If you’re a bit more advanced and have tried mindfulness, I recommend this course. It’s practical and full of good advice to get you to USE mindfulness every day, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing.
More Than Mindfulness and Meditation
While mindfulness and meditation have been proven in many studies to mitigate stress and anxiety, and make you far more resilient to it, there are other things that work as well. You need not rely solely on one thing, but use it in tandem with other things.
If you’re religious, prayer will help you tremendously. You in essence meditate when you pray deeply and repeat certain prayers over and over again. This should help you.
You can also drink relaxation drinks, or do a host of other things that I’ve written about here.
Get Professional Help
There is NO shame in seeking help, whether that be a therapist, psychiatrist, or alternative healer. They all have their place and can help. Also, there’s a stigma against pharmaceuticals. That’s just stupid. If they will help, why not use them and see if they work for you? Nothing is forever, and if they are not for you, tell your health care professional and wean yourself off them.
There is nothing wrong with help, in whatever form it comes in, as long as it doesn’t involve harming others or yourself, get my meaning? Good.
Check out my resources page for some good ways to beat back stress, anxiety, and learn mindfulness and meditation. Also, please sign up for the newsletter and get Instant Mindfulness. It’s there to help you, and it’s free. Sure, there are affiliate links and I occasionally might sell something, but that all helps pay for this site and resource.
Thank You, and please share this page if you truly believe that it can help others.