#lifelessons101 – How to Recover from a Meltdown

If there is one thing certain about life it’s that there are ups and downs for all of us. And sometimes they come all at once which can result in a complete and utter total emotional meltdown. To be honest, I don’t think I have met a person who hasn’t experienced a complete meltdown. That moment where you are looking at everything you have to cope with and you simply can’t deal with it anymore. And something tips you over the edge

It could be a problem at work, at home, a dream that seems impossible to reach, or that day where everything goes wrong, when you are under an extreme amount of pressure the smallest thing can tip the balance and you find yourself in tears unable to see the way through and incapable of the most basic things on your to do list.

I recently had a major meltdown. Overly exhausted, nothing was working out. Instead of the planned vacation I was looking forward to a family member suddenly was close to death which meant some seriously hard recurring visits to the hospital on top of which I was under immense pressure at work, I was getting behind on the simplest of tasks. My home was a mess. I was a mess. The exhaust fell off the car. And one evening when I hadn’t noticed the dinner I made was put on the table still half frozen it felt like the whole world came crashing down around me and I exploded in a flood of tears. I cried for about 2 hours solidly and by the end I felt like I had done 30 rounds with Mike Tyson and as a emotionally capable as a soggy paper towel. I honestly haven’t had such a big meltdown in the longest time. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

You might be shocked that I can still have these experiences. That somehow being a Life Coach means I’m immune to such experiences. It doesn’t.  My overwhelm has lessened considerably over many years, but being human means that from time to time things inevitably pile up. For me being a coach doesn’t mean avoiding such instances altogether, but learning how to move through them with less suffering.

So once done with the cathartic tears, there I sat in the middle of the same situation. And the only person who could get me out of it was me. I needed to recover, to climb back out of the large hole and get it together again. And that’s where my coaching background is my saviour.  I feel pretty lucky to have the tools needed for a quick recovery, and the understanding that while pain isn’t optional- suffering really is.

Recovering from a total emotional meltdown can seem like the most impossible of tasks. However, with a little conscious thought and gentle self care it is possible to get back on the horse again after a meltdown.

The first step to recovery is to know what not to do if you actually want to feel better:

  • Get drunk
  • Binge watch Netflix
  • Stay up all night reliving the horror
  • Eat junk food
  • Stop eating
  • Pretend you are ok – So Ignore, avoid, numb, deny your feelings
  • Try to get back up to full speed immediately

I know these because I have done them all in the past. And from experience I can tell you that all of these things will make you feel worse, keeping you in the black pit and ultimately delay your recovery.

Here is what does work to feel human and whole again after a meltdown:

Step 1:  Get a 48 hour break

Meltdowns are a flashing neon sign that you are under an enormous amount of stress beyond your bodies capability.  When you meltdown you need someone to help relieve you of your instant pressure. If you had a fever you wouldn’t be able to do everything a meltdown is an emotional fever. So its ok to ask your partner to take on the primary child care for 48 hours. You need a break to recover so do whatever you can to lighten your load. 48 hours of rest and self care will help you get back up again so delegate your major responsibilities and tasks that make you feel as though you want to cry and allow yourself this time you need to recharge.

Step 2: Self Care

In the initial stage of recovery you will be feeling vulnerable and that is totally ok. You cannot expect to cry it out and then hop up and say I am all good now. Initially you need a large dose of self care. Cancel your appointments. Take some time out to do what feels good for you. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to sleep, sleep. For me doing things I liked to do as a child really helps. Like playing tetris on the game boy. Hiding under a duvet on the sofa reading a book. Or even colouring books help me. My other go is yoga. (I highly recommend the Yoga with Adriene Head and Heart Reset video after a melt down).  You might feel better from having a bath, going for a run. Find what feels good for you.

Step 3: Start with the basics

As humans are basic needs are food, water, sleep. After that being clean is a great help to feeling better. Take baby steps. Have some food. Drink some water. Get some rest. Then get dressed, brush your teeth. If, as is often the case during a melt down period your home is a mess and your fridge is empty ask a friend over to help you do the basic things like the washing, cleaning or food shopping. Getting support will help you feel that you are not alone and that is so important for recovery from a meltdown.

Step 4: Prioritise after your needs

So the long to do list is probably one of the main factors you had the meltdown in the first place. To recover you need to prioritise after you own needs if you don’t want to relapse. There is no point working to someone else’s tempo right now. Whereever possible cut out all social arrangements. Being around to many people won’t help you right now.  (Avoiding social media helps at this stage too). Identify the things that are really important for your mental health to do. For me it included getting the house tidier, writing an article and focusing on my priority clients were what was most important at that time, so that is what I focused on. If I couldn’t delegate another task then it would have to wait. Simple as that.

Step 5: Get some vitamin D

As soon as you can and no later than 48 hours get outside and go for a walk. If you live in a busy area then shut out the noise with some music or an audiobook. A sunny boost Vitamin D helps no matter what time of the year it is.  Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming and restorative benefits to be achieved. So find a place in nature or even a park where you can take a gentle walk and feel rejuvenated.

Step 6: Take each day one step at a time

As you feel stronger don’t take on too, much too soon. Recovery from a meltdown takes time. Follow you needs. Just take one step at a time.

Step 7: Give yourself moments of peace

And as you get stronger remember to give yourself moments of peace. Meditate, read a book, have a 20 minute rest lying in bed listening to music, exercise, be creative, give yourself a foot massage and get to bed before 10pm. One of the reasons the meltdown occurs is because in the situation you have been in you haven’t been taking care of yourself. An emotional meltdown is a VERY loud universal message that you need to take care of yourself. It is important to hear and heed that message.


If you find that after the 48 break your are still weeping and under the duvet this is the point where you are probably in need of professional help. There are many wonderful practices out there from counselors, therapist, doctors, alternative medicine that are ready to support you. It is OK to get help when you need it.

What are your go to’s for quick meltdown recovery? What helps you move from from breakdown to breakthrough? Let me know in the comments below

Have a wonderful weekend <3

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