Finding balance in modern life isn’t always easy. Stress and overwhelm can affect us all, and mental wellbeing is a challenge for millions of people worldwide.
One of the most traumatic mental health issues a person can experience is a breakdown. Breakdowns occur when a person experiences a period of intense mental distress, leading to an inability to function in daily life.
Breakdowns can be caused by issues that have been building over time, or a sudden stressful event or series of events. Sometimes there are underlying mental health issues that can contribute to the breakdown, combined with a lack of healthy coping skills. The triggers are different for every individual.
The results can be devastating. Breakdowns lead to a sense of internal fragmentation, of feeling lost and overwhelmed by intense stress and anxiety. People may suffer from mood swings or emotional outbursts, paranoia, inability to focus and delusion or detachment from reality. Physical symptoms can include extreme fatigue, insomnia, lowered immunity and illness, muscle pains, racing heart and sweats. People who are experiencing a breakdown often isolate themselves from their friends and family and may not be able to take care of themselves physically.
The path to recovery
Breakdowns are harrowing, yet with the right resources healing is possible. A breakdown requires immediate and professional mental health support. Specialised therapeutic care can help to treat the underlying causes and build healthy new strategies and coping skills.
In combination with therapeutic care, there are many ways to support recovery. Healing is a process and is different for everyone. There are no easy answers or quick fixes. Yet we all have an innate capacity for growth and change. For many people, experiencing a breakdown can be a powerful impetus to live in a healthier and more integrated way. It can offer deep learning and an opportunity to view life from a fresh perspective, to decide what is truly important and align more fully with ourselves.
Recovery involves learning to navigate towards peace – whatever that represents for each individual. It’s about sanctifying the need for balance in life and taking steps to actively create it.
The following can all be useful when recovering from a breakdown. They are also valuable tools for everyone, at any moment in life, to help promote mental wellbeing.
Cultivate a loving relationship with yourself
Learning to relate healthily to ourselves is fundamental to finding balance. Healing is a process of internal reconnection. Being loving, kind and connected to ourselves helps us to find our centre and build healthy bridges between mind and body. From this place, we can better navigate everything around us. As often as possible, make space to release from external demands and connect inwardly. Taking time for ourselves helps us to attune to our feelings and nurture this internal relationship. It also affirms that we matter and teaches us to prioritise our own needs alongside those of the outer world.
Treat your wellbeing as sacred
Mental and physical health isn’t something to take for granted. Creating healthy habits is foundational to wellbeing. By making self-care and relaxation a priority, we can learn to regulate our minds and bodies and create positive change. Exercise, being in nature and enjoying healthy relationships are all powerful resources for wellbeing. Being in the present moment and practising breath work, mindfulness and meditation are also proven ways to support physical and mental balance . Find what works for you and make these elements part of your daily life.
Recognise your triggers and resources
Whether by yourself, or with the support of a therapist, identify your triggers and stressors – and what helps you to cope with them. Learn to regularly pause and check in with yourself. Become aware of what it feels like when your tension is rising. Practise implementing the resources that help. By recognising and taking steps to deal with stresses as they come, rather than allowing them to build up, we’re more able to find equilibrium and avoid overwhelm.
Be gentle with yourself
Healing is rarely simple or straightforward. Creating change takes time, and there will likely be many ups and downs along the way. Give yourself permission to be exactly who and where you are. The more we can accept ourselves and our process, the less tension we create around any difficulties we may be facing. This supports us to better deal with challenges, without creating more stress in the process.
Follow what you love
Reflect on your core values and what is important to you. Think about the different areas of your life – from health to relationships, family, home, passions, career, spirituality, leisure and a sense of community and giving. What is meaningful to you, and how would you like to connect with each of these aspects of your life? Following what brings you joy and makes you come alive can help you to move forwards in a way that is truly aligned, healthy and fulfilling.