Had a meltdown recently? COVID has increased our stress, anger and fear, which are the basis of most meltdowns. All meltdowns have in common a loss of emotional control and a sense of helplessness. They occur when we no longer have the emotional resources to deal with them. So, let’s take a look at how to adjust our approach and replenish our resources.
Not all meltdowns are created equal. When bad ones start to come frequently, interfere with our life, hurt those around us and leave us feeling worse than before, learn to pause and reset. Some meltdowns may have an upside, if used correctly. They allow us to release tension, so we can think more clearly, when we are not putting all our energy into “holding it all together” or “putting on a good face”.
Following are some Quick Fixes from the American Psychiatric Association.
- Accept It. Don’t judge yourself, let the meltdown ease the tensions, anger and fear you have been suppressing.
- Model a good meltdown. No kicking the dog, putting holes in the wall or screaming at an unsuspecting person.
- Try to model a “alternate rebellion”. In a meltdown we want to rebel, send a snotty email, leave a nasty voice mail that would temporarily satisfy the need to assert control. Pause. Dial back. Literally, turn off the phone, let someone know what you are doing is temporary and then find something that will calm you, that you enjoy.
- Explore the meaning of your meltdown. First, give yourself time to recover. When you reflect it helps you turn the meltdown into a growth experience. Growth is always painful but worth it in the long run.
- Plan ahead. When you begin to feel it coming on, find a safe place to go: the shower, the car, to be alone to feel freer to let your emotions out.
- Recognize what you really need. What is it that you are looking for so desperately? What is within your control?
- Move On. If you upset others, apologize. Forgive yourself. Then make a fresh start. Make sure your resources quiver is replenished.
You can start your day over at any time of your choosing. Understand what your tantrums look like. Crying? Yelling? Throwing things? Going Silent? Rage? Your meltdowns are your body’s natural mechanism to let go and to cleanse. Your body gets a reset! Choosing to not go down the” rabbit hole” is a learned skill. Take a breath, figure out what the meltdown was really about. Take a deep breath, again. Restart your day. Do a random act of kindness after every meltdown. That will make both you and the recipient feel better. Ready, , set , restart!