Nervous breakdowns are a period of time riddled with depression, anxiety or stress. It feels like smashing into a brick wall and shattering into a million pieces like an eggshell. Sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere or sometimes it’s easy to tell why you’re having the nervous breakdown. However, no matter what the cause, we know that it’s a terrible experience to go through and we all want it to pass as quickly as possible.
Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool to use when you’re going through a nervous breakdown. The ability to ‘turn off’ the train-wreck style thinking for a few moments may make all the difference in the world. According to a study by the International Society of Neuroscience, regular meditation may reduce the impact of negative emotions. EEG measurements show lower levels of ‘arousal’ during periods of meditation. In essence, it means that your negative emotions have a less measurable impact during states of meditation compared to not meditating.
How To Meditate During a Nervous Breakdown
- Identify what is bothering you. Either the ‘thing’ that’s causing the nervous breakdown or the feelings you are experiencing. (Anxiety, fast heart rate, sweating etc.)
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- Take deep breaths in a pattern of 5-5-5 (Inhale through the nose for a count of 5. Hold in for a count of 5. Exhale through the mouth for a count of 5.)
- Visualize the physical symptoms of the nervous breakdown dissipating. Imagine your heart beat slowing, your muscles relaxing and your mind calming.
- Affirm in your mind some statements of relaxation. “I’m relaxed,” “I feel calm” or “Everything is alright.”
- Finally, let your mind free. Stop controlling your thoughts or anything else.
The end goal of meditation during a nervous breakdown is to relieve yourself from the cycle of train-wreck thinking and physical reactions. In addition, you can also try using guided meditation with audio tracks. Here is
Exercise, although great for the body, is also fantastic for the mind. Not only does the activity of exercise help ‘switch-off’ from thinking but it also helps balance chemicals in the body. Regular exercise reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Yoga is great for stress reduction and nervous breakdowns. Yoga combines physical exercise with a meditative state for a two-punch effect. According to the Yoga Journal, there are several poses for treating stress including Bharadvaja’s Twist, boat pose, bridge pose and ‘Calm Heart Meditation’ pose.
Running is also fantastic for stress reduction. Running releases significantly more endorphins compared to other forms of exercise. Extended runs either in nature or on a treadmill have the capacity to improve mood and reduce the impacts of nervous breakdowns.
Weight lifting is also great for improving mood and reducing stress. Full body exercises such as squats, bench press, and lunges release significant amounts of endorphins.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is often neglected in our fast pace 60-hour-work week lifestyles. However, sleep has a powerful effect on our mood. Poor sleep routines are directly connected to irritability and stress levels in our day to day lives. Chronic insomnia may also increase our chances of developing a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression. Make sure to get at least six hours of sleep every night with eight hours being optimal. Just getting enough sleep can help lower your chances from suffering another nervous breakdown or anxiety attack.
Tips For Better Sleep
- Have a regular schedule: Choose a time to regularly sleep each night. Even if you have difficulty falling asleep at the chosen time, still continue to follow your schedule. If you can’t sleep try these three steps. 1. Get up for 10 to 15 minutes and do something relaxing such as reading or taking a hot bath and then try to sleep again. 2. Avoid bright lights at night or stimulating content such as surfing the internet. 3. Do your best to relax but avoiding looking at the clock or feeling guilty by not falling asleep.
- Develop A Ritual: Develop a sleeping ritual that is comfortable for you. Many people will read a book before bed, make sure the room is a comfortable temperature or use a white noise machine. After you get used to your sleep ritual, it will help you fall asleep after setting up your pre-sleep environment.
- Tweak Your Diet: Reduce your intake of stimulants during the day, or if not, at least reduce them during the night. Drink less caffeine, smoke fewer cigarettes if you smoke and avoid alcohol (although you may fall asleep with alcohol, you may experience LESS deep sleep). If you do eat later in the night, eat foods high in healthy fats such as almonds, walnuts or dairy products.
Try Changing Your Perspective
In many cases, our nervous breakdowns or anxiety attacks are based on our thinking instead of what’s actually happening. We get into a type of spiral thinking in which one negative thought quickly escalates into a vortex of similar negative thoughts. For example, you might think, ‘I’m going to lose my job.’ That thought then spirals downward into ‘what if I run out of money’ and then ‘how will I feed my children.’ One simple thought that made you feel worried about your job now has you thinking about your children starving to death.
Now worrying isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but falling into an absolute pit of despair over one negative thought in the day is never a good thing. We can avoid falling into nervous breakdowns from this sort of thinking by changing our perspectives. Instead of going straight down into the worse possible outcome, realize that maybe the negative thought isn’t accurate. Perhaps you’re overreacting or that it’s not REALLY going to be as bad as you think. In most cases, things are not as bad as we believe that they are.
Philosophies like Stoicism and Taoism are great for dealing with adversities in life and can help us have a more balanced view of things that happen to us. Reading books that reinforce positive perspectives can help us avoid having nervous breakdowns or even help us overcome them while we are having them.