A “Mental Breakdown” can happen in many forms and range in severity. Some people find themselves so distraught and emotionally destroyed they are hospitalized. But for MANY of us mental breakdowns do not result in being hospitalized but do feel like we just cannot take it anymore. These kinds of mental breakdowns show up in a variety of ways. Maybe it’s the person screaming and flipping off another driver. Maybe it’s the woman who just starts crying uncontrollably at work. Maybe it’s when you slap your child when they’re being difficult which you never thought you would every do. Today’s discussion are research based and clinically proven strategies to avoid mental breakdowns.
1. Practice Saying NO
This is a very hard thing to do when we are bombarded by opportunities for personal, professional, and familial growth. And if you are like me you worry about what will happen if you do say no!
There is a lot of anxiety in creating the boundaries we need. Women need to start practicing saying no from an early age, in my professional opinion. But so many women struggle with this. Women, especially younger women, struggle to say no to their highly sexually charged boyfriends. They struggle to say no to their bosses who want them to do more than their co-workers. And they struggle to saying “No” to additional stress which keeps them from being emotionally balanced.
Saying “No” is apart of assertiveness training, which is something I do with clients no matter their age. One very fun and non-threatening way to start practicing the art of saying no is to do it when it is inconsequential. I tell my patients to say “No” when a store asks them for their zip code or email. Say it in the nicest way, like “No, thank you” or “Thank you for asking but not today.” This will make you feel more comfortable saying no and creating those healthy boundaries in larger parts of your life!
2. Schedule Me Time within Your Work Day
I find most moms and professionals keep a schedule which dictates where you will be, for how long, and with whom you will be with. Instead of using this schedule against yourself by saying “I have no time for a massage” or “I don’t have time to get a yoga class scheduled” use your calendar to schedule what you need.
If you look at some of my work days you will see patient names booked back-to-back and then there might be the name of my business coach or spiritual guide. I book their appointments in my schedule like any other work related matter, BUT its not work. That blocked hour is for self growth, reflection, and care. Some days of the week I build in my workout to my work day. These things help me be a better mom, boss, and psychologist.
So use your schedule in your favor. If you build it into your workday and even take an hour or two off to do these things you will be a better you! You earn time off from work for a reason=)
If you are in control of your breathe you are in control of yourself. Breathing amazes me, not only because of the power it has over our physiological being but also because so many people do not do it well. Breathing keeps us alive, yet so many people do not take advantage of breathing deeply and fully.
Take some time right now to practice deep belly breathing. When you do this you should see your belly rise, not your chest. Now, fill up your belly with your deep breath and try to count to 10 on the exhale. Counting to 10 on the exhale slows the breathing pattern, thereby calming your body. You can do this ANYWHERE and ANYTIME. Practice breathing on a daily basis so when the stressful wave comes you can easily shift gears.
4. Sleep Well and Limit Caffeine
I recently took my 23andme which indicates I should have a lesser amount of caffeine as it does not work to keep me as sharp mentally. For a former Starbucks barista and coffee and tea LOVER this is a hard truth for me BUT I am doing it. I have one cup of Matcha Green Tea and that’s it=)
Many women get stuck in the rat race of needing caffeine due to sleep deprivation from working late and staying up late with kids. It is a vicious cycle of being sleep deprived, drinking too much caffeine, and then staying up late. A few tips: caffeine has a 7-8 hour life in your body, meaning if you do not want it to impact you stop drinking by 12-2pm to go to bed by 9-10pm. There are many other behavioral interventions to have healthy sleep, such as sleeping in darkness, limiting blue light (screen time) before bed, keeping your room temperature low, and so many more.
For more tips on how to improve your sleeping habits, read this post from my clinic Delaware Psychological Services.
Study after study demonstrates the benefits from exercise. For example, it’s a HUGE way to manage stress, develop that feel good mood, feel better about your body image, and beef up your brain health. Exercise also gives you the energy to complete more of your life demands and when you complete more you feel better. Additionally, exercise is a great way to mitigate life stress. Sometimes when I run I imagine all the stress falling off of me. And we have already talked about scheduling time for yourself so no excuses to get it in=) Try to exercise regularly and weave it into your daily routine.
Lets recount these strategies: Practice Saying No which creates healthy boundaries, Schedule Me Time, take time to Breathe on a daily basis, Sleep Well and definitely limit caffeine, and finally Exercise regularly.
Practice these skills on a daily basis will help you avoid a mental breakdown AND if you feel close to losing it coming back to some of these skills will definitely help.