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Moments of despair can awaken our hearts and open our minds to new levels of understanding about ourselves and the world around us.
A bad day, a crisis, a breakup, death, illness, unemployment, trauma, stress, burnout, arguments, conflict, worry, or whatever it is, can make us feel like the whole world is crumbling under our feet.
These are major stress triggers that play a significant role in a nervous breakdown. It may be accumulative or one-off events.
An enlightened mind will see it as a breakthrough and think, “Everything is in divine order.” A mind in distress or chaos will think, “This is a mess, and I feel like giving up.”
By thinking that everything is in divine order, we instantly become more centered and allow things to unfold naturally. This brings peace and harmony as opposed to thinking that life is shattered.
But let’s be realistic. When we feel overwhelmed by exhaustion and feel that things are getting out of control, psychological distress can bite us in the butt. At worst, we can’t function properly, and thoughts are racing day and night. Stress, exhaustion, hopelessness, and overwhelm creep into our consciousness. We struggle to make sense out of the world and may not understand why we find no joy or reason to go on.
Then it’s time to stay grounded and/or seek help.
Be assured, you are not going crazy.
The actual feeling of being on the verge of a nervous breakdown or reacting with shock and distress is normal in a crisis or an unusual situation we are not mentally prepared for.
The intelligence of our minds, bodies, and souls is trying to tell us that we are not living in alignment with our true selves.
As a good girl or boy, we press on until one day our body says stop. We hit the wall and collapse.
All too often, we ignore the signs and signals, rationalize them away, and suppress our emotions.
Stress symptoms are individual, but some of the common physical, mental, and emotional signals are:
>> more irritable than usual
>> crying for no reason
>> feeling angry
>> stomach, body, and chest pain
>> heart palpitations
>> reduced concentration
>> no energy or motivation to do anything
>> negative thoughts
>> inability to make decisions
>> mental overload, exhaustion, and overwhelm
>> poor sleep
>> low energy or no motivation to do anything
>> a normal daily routine seems impossible
We are often unaware of what’s going on. Although it’s normal for the mind and body to react, without this awareness, we are afraid of how we feel and hold the tension. Commonly, the mind automatically does anything to avoid the pain. Paradoxically, this is destructive and only increases suffering until we find a way to embrace and deal with it.
Therefore, we must become more aware, learn how to recognize the early warning signals, and act. If we continue doing the same, then stress, sadness, and fear can turn into depression, fatigue, illness, panic, and anxiety.
A breakdown can stir our soul and be the turning point we need to make necessary changes. It can teach us to connect with our bodies and hearts, break through illusions we are hanging on to, face the challenge, and move through what we never thought possible.
The immense energy of chaos created gives us the power to transform mental barriers and emotional pain from thinking and feeling that life is over, to seeing a greater perspective where we can in hindsight see the big picture, feel joy, and understand why it had to happen.
How we perceive, understand, and deal with a nervous breakdown is crucial for how we cope with stress and mental overload, move through it, and create divine order in our life.
To find out what works for us individually is an experiential process. It does not have to be nor should it be a lonely battle.
Here are ways to create divine order by staying grounded and calm:
1. Ask for help. Talk with someone you trust. This can give an immediate feeling of calm, relief, and insight into the situation. It also reduces isolation and enhances motivation.
The right support is necessary to regulate and navigate the inner landscape of emotional, mental, and physical distress so it does not become a negative downward spiral and manifest into suffering and illness.
Establish daily routines and structure to your day.
Delegate as much as you can, both at home and at work.
Plan less and prioritize.
2. Practice conscious breathing. Conscious breathing is one of the best ways to calm down the central nervous system (CNS) when in panic and distress. Generally, I recommend this simple technique:
>> Hold the right hand under the belly button. As you breathe in through your nose (mouth closed) for four seconds, your belly rises like a balloon.
>> Hold your breath for two seconds.
>> Then breathe out through your mouth for six to eight seconds.
>> Repeat the inhale and exhale 10 times, about three times a day, or as often as you like.
3. Slow down and cultivate awareness in the moment. Listen. What do you hear? What do you see around you? What does it feel like when you touch your body gently? What does your favorite chocolate taste like?
Walk slowly. Become aware of your body and its movements. As you lift and put down each foot, feel each part of the foot connect with the ground.
What does it feel like to connect with nature, animals, and people around you?
If you become distracted or painful thoughts arise, take a moment to pause and watch your breath.
As we become more and more present, we start to notice the bird song, the growing moon, and the texture of our experiences—mentally, emotionally, bodily, and spiritually.
Grounded and centered, we are less likely to be swept away by circumstances and habits influenced by expectations and demands. In a balanced, natural state of mind, the energy of our true nature flows freely and unconditionally. We know exactly what we need and when, and we don’t get caught up in the details of the rat race.
4. Simple ways to stay grounded and connected. Stand for a few minutes with your feet apart firmly on the floor or ground and bend forward and over with your body from the hips whilst facing the earth. Breathe and focus on being as loose and flexible as you can. Empty your mind and open to the wisdom of insight and inner knowing. Relax.
Take a footbath or bath in warm water and add some Epsom salt. Any contact with water has a calming and balancing effect on the CNS and the energies in our body.
Drink plenty of water, take a shower, swim in the ocean, or wash the face with a wet cloth.
5. Take time for yourself. If you are not used to spending time with yourself, start with a short time out. It can be anything from a few minutes to an hour or more.
Exercise has great health benefits.
Time out in nature enhances our well-being by walking or just being. At times, choose to just listen to the silence in nature without any distractions like notebooks, mobile phone, and laptop.
At other times, find a comfortable space either at home or somewhere you feel safe.
If you are at home, you can create a relaxing atmosphere with candles and incense and snuggle up under soft blankets and shawls.
Or simply do something new and different.
6. Journaling. Keep a journal of your positive and negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Journaling enhances self-awareness, reflection, and insights. Write all your thoughts and feelings without analyzing or self-judgment. Be honest with yourself.
How does it feel to write about what’s difficult?
Is it painful? Do you get angry? Perhaps sad? Happy?
Maybe you learn to know that you are a perfectionist with high expectations toward yourself. Or perhaps you feel ashamed of feeling the way you do. Or you may realize that life is not that bad, and you can hear a voice say, “You have done a great job. You are amazing.”
Register thoughts that come and go, like clouds. Observe. Allow feelings to come. Acknowledge them and let go.
7. Self-dialogue and acceptance. Develop a supportive and positive dialogue with yourself. Ask, “What am I focusing on?” If you focus on the negative, experiment with how it can be flipped around. For example, if the focus is not on being peaceful, do something that makes you feel at peace. If the focus is on “lack,” focus on being grateful for what you have.
Take a step back, and as you lift the gaze, the bigger picture transforms the darkness into light. Suddenly, the fog lifts and you see clearly.
The moment we accept our situation in the moment, we find peace with what is. Resistance turns into flow.
Notice how it feels if you are fighting what’s happening or trying to push or run away—as opposed to when you are connecting with your heart and going with the flow.
An enlightened mind will accept the impermanent nature of conditions and let go of attachments, thinking:
This, too, will pass.
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable.
Everything is perfect the way it is—it is what it is.
I respect where I am at, without pushing or judging myself.
A mind in distress will cling to the conditions with fear of letting go and see no future. It will avoid and deny anything that triggers the fear of feeling distressed and uncomfortable. The fear thinks it is going to happen again.
When negative thoughts and emotions come into the mind, respond with, “I love you.” When we nurture our being with love, pain melts away and wounds heal.
8. Experiment throughout the day. Notice what situations trigger stress. What does it feel like? Identify thoughts and expectations like: if only, what if, should, and ought to.
Set healthy boundaries and choose what you allow. Aware, you can say no to what feels overwhelming and stressful—and yes, to what feels fine.
9. Explore. Find out what works for you. What is the best balance between rest, recharge, and action?
Walk, pray, meditate, do yoga, run, play with children or animals, sing, touch something soft, laugh, make your favorite dish, experience nature, or do anything that connects you with your inner life force energy.
Whatever it is, even if you feel unworthy, unhappy, or think everything is meaningless, do it anyway.
Do one little thing every day.
Slowly it gets better.
This way you embrace the discomfort with loving compassion and let it melt into an ocean of peace. As you let the feelings come, you become friends with shame and guilt. Suddenly, the feeling of self-love grows. Give it time, water the flower, and it will bloom with joy.
For more inspiration to relax and create divine order, you can watch and listen to this video of meditation.
If it still feels unsettling or too difficult to find calm on your own, explore ways of doing it with others or seek professional help.
Take one step at a time.
By cultivating awareness, you nurture your being and create divine order in your life.