Emotional meltdowns in adults

A meltdown is a type of tantrum, in which it is describe in most autistic individuals than a regular tantrum. The term “meltdown” is usually used when talking about a child or person with autism, especially those with Asperger’s syndrome,(an extremely high-functioning form of autism).
A meltdown is a type of tantrum, in which something takes over the child or person, and there is a total loss of control. A child and/or person having a meltdown needs someone to recognize his/her behavior, and needs someone to help him/her regain control of his/herself, while with a regular tantrum, a child can regain control of his/herself. A person with autism cannot regain control of themself. A person having a meltdown has no interest or involvement in a social situation. A person with a meltdown will not consider their own safety. A meltdown conveys that no one is in control. A person having a meltdown will not look, or care if those around them are recognizing their behavior.
Unlike a tantrum, a meltdown will not end suddenly as it starts, however it will wind down over a period of time, as the person is moving under their own power. A meltdown can be proceeded by “silent seizures”, in which there may be breaks in the meltdown in which they may be silent. Unlike tantrums, meltdowns can be caused by unknown reasons. A person or child having a meltdown may not tell the parents what is bothering them. Meltdowns can be caused by an autistic person becoming frustrated or agitated.
Meltdowns can be anything from a minor incident to something very traumatic.
For example:
“A child getting upset, because he didn’t have any “green toys”, and the parent find the child’s “green toys”. The parent then asked him what really happened, and the child tells them that “he was being teased at school”. The parent then tries to help him solve the problem in a positive way.”

Frustration, anxiety, stress, upset, and depression: Together they can lead to an emotional eruption, or what some people call a “meltdown.” Sometimes you feel so emotionally overwhelmed by unpleasant feelings that you can no longer control them or hide them from others. That’s when you act out or have an emotional meltdown. This may take the form of being irritable, snapping at others, crying, screaming, engaging in all kinds of unhealthy — even self-destructive — behavior, or simply withdrawing from the world.

While certain problems may seem overwhelming at any particular time, you’re far more likely to have a meltdown the week before your period. The steep decrease in estrogen and progesterone during that time leave most women feeling edgier, more irritable and more stressed out. So, it’s not surprising many women find it more difficult to deal with issues about 25 percent of time. Just realizing that you’re more vulnerable to having an emotional meltdown during this time is a big help. If you’re aware of this problem, you can take a moment and stop yourself from getting too upset by thinking, “Oh yeah, my hormones are making me edgy, but I am really OK.” That’s much easier to manage than “I am going crazy.”

Many factors in your life can make you more likely to feel emotionally overwhelmed. If you’re having marital problems or have lost your job, gotten a new boss or had a baby, these stressful situations increase the likelihood of a small annoyance turning into a meltdown. My meltdown formula is: daily stress level plus hormonal status plus coping skills equal the likelihood of meltdown.

Since it’s unlikely you will be able to change the amount of stress in your life or your hormone levels, the one factor you have control over is your ability to handle stress. Here are some ways you can calm down and reduce stress in your life:

  1. Breathe. If everything seems to be piling on at once, instead of exploding and venting your anger and frustration, take a moment to consider what is physically happening. You may be breathing fast, your stomach may feel tense, you may even clench your fists. This probably means you’re on the verge of a meltdown. So take a moment to realize that you’re extremely upset and say to yourself, “Well, here it comes.” Then take three long, slow, deep breaths to diffuse the tension. This gives you time to think about how you should cope with the situation.
  2. Exercise. Working up a sweat really does reduce stress. Unfortunately, when you are really stressed, you will be more likely to blow off going to the gym or doing your workout. Don’t sit at home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or at home, make sure to set aside time to run, take a yoga class, or go dancing. This will really make you feeling better, even if you exercise for only a short time each day.
  3. Confide. Talking to a spouse, a friend, or even a professional therapist about what is really bothering you will make a huge difference. Feeling that someone else understands why you are so stressed out will make you feel better. Think of it as a safety valve.
  4. Relax. Whether you like to listen to music or soak in a bubble bath, give yourself permission to spend time relaxing. Unfortunately, women tend to deny themselves such indulgences when they’re upset, and that ends up making them feel even worse.

Of course, if you find that you often feel anxious or depressed, or if you have trouble sleeping or concentrating, you may need to be evaluated by a professional therapist to determine if your problem warrants treatment.

6 Signs You Are About To Have A Meltdown

People-pleasers, mega multi-taskers and generally overworked perfectionists, listen up! Regardless of the fact that you are convinced you can handle it all, the world can be a cruel place and the universe feels the need to remind you every once in a while that you are not, in fact, a superhero. Try as we might to put on a perfectly poised happy face, there are those moments where our breaking point is just waiting in the wings. The most unfair part? As we sit on the verge of a completely epic meltdown, our generally positive, can-do attitude and obsessive compulsive tendencies leave us oblivious to the event at hand. So, as everyone else begins the countdown to detonation, we blissfully carry on in the pursuit of world domination. Familiar as I am with this type of life event, I am here to right the wrong and clue you in on the events leading up to the moment we all crack under the pressure. Ladies and gents, here are six signs you are about to have a meltdown. If you are currently overwhelmed and not sure you have the time to read this column in it’s entirety, I advise you put it on your to-do list to come back later and review.

Overuse of the phrase “I’m fine!”

For real, you are like the modern version of Ross Gellar when he finds out Rachel and Joey want to date each other. “I’m fine” has become your response to any question remotely centered around your feelings and usually means that you are too overwhelmed to express that you are scared, overworked, sleep deprived, angry, over committed and generally unsure which end is up. Note, when you begin to use the phrase in a high, shrieking tone like everybody’s favorite paleontologist or yelling this lie in the direction of the person concerned for your mental health, you are mere seconds away from spontaneously combusting.

Bipolar Tweeting.

These days, if it is happening in our lives, we express it via Twitter because obviously, the entire world needs to know how we are feeling at any given moment. Pre-meltdown, this form of social media is like a desperate, unintended cry for help. In real life you are wavering back and forth between your belief that you are queen of everything, poised to take on the world, and that looming sense of utter despair that makes you want to throw in the proverbial towel and drink a bottle of wine while watching When Harry Met Sally. The day usually starts and ends with an inspirational quote or limerick about grabbing life by the horns, but somewhere in the middle you lose it and let your followers know that you are heading to Starbucks for your fifth latte of the day, hoping to find a piece of your sanity along the way. Bottom line: if your Twitter feed reads like a confused teenager coming into their own, your meltdown awaits.

You can’t make a decision to save your life.

Normally action-oriented, your emotions are running so high you can’t decide if you should go to Ikea or clean your apartment first on a Saturday morning without calling for a second opinion. Family members and friends are consulted every five minutes because subconsciously, you know that one wrong move and it all comes crashing down. Obviously, you’re looking for someone to help shoulder the blame of the impending doom. Advice-givers, beware!

You’ve turned into a big bully.

Your loved ones are considering turning you over to that group that runs the anti-bullying campaign for the number of fights you have picked with them over completely insignificant details as of late. I know it may seem like a big deal that your mom took your brother out for ice cream instead of you but I promise, in a world that doesn’t involve you approaching a mental breakdown, you could care less. I would tell you to cut everyone a break, but I know you simply can’t.

Emotional eating has commenced.

You can no longer express your feelings so you have resulted to eating them. The guy at the fro-yo joint knows you by name and it isn’t because he is hitting on you; it is because chocolate hazelnut and original swirl with granola, strawberries and Nutella has served as dinner six out of the past seven nights and has been an afternoon indulgence on two occasions. Yes, that’s right, you’ve probably had it twice in one day. It is at this point that you are dangerously close to realizing the real reason for your love affair with the frozen treat: your impending loss of sanity.

Intense emotional involvement in all things pop culture (at a higher level than what already occurs on the regular which, to be clear, I still endorse.) Also known as uncontrollable crying at random things, i.e. reality television, that HelloGiggles article on friendship, Rachel Berry’s rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ when her fellow Glee members appeared as if from no where or the end of Breaking Dawn. Yes, HelloGiggles writers are extremely talented (wink, wink!) and yes, Rachel Berry’s voice is perfection, as are the friendships on Glee. It is true that the Cullen’s defeating the Volturi signified the end of an era, so we’ll try to cut each other some slack here, but take note. Crying in your wine while indulging in two or more forms of entertainment in one week should make you question your emotional stability. Naturally, you are refusing to cry over your own life (yet) so you are projecting the waterworks on all the pop culture you are emotionally invested in. Keep those tissues close because the real flood gates are about to open.

Sound eerily familiar? Did you check off multiple (ALL) of the above? Well then my friend, you have fallen victim to the inevitable meltdown. Maybe you are on your way to having one right now. It happens to the best of us so don’t be too hard on yourself! There is really no preventing it but, at least now you know the warning signs. It is noteworthy that they often happen in no particular order, but from experience, I tend to advise that you stock up on the wine or ice cream and get the bestie on speed dial as you near crossing off the third and fourth sign. This will give you ample time to settle in and embrace what’s about to go down. After all, there is nothing wrong with a good cry when the going gets a little tough!

Now, go watch a funny video on HelloGiggles! Steer clear of those tear jerkers for a while!

Featured image via

  • By Katie Patton

Meltdowns are emotional outbursts that happen when children (or adults) are overwhelmed by feelings and they come out in inappropriate ways. They are sometimes referred to as tantrums or blowups and can be very stressful for everyone involved. An understanding of what happens during a meltdown and how to help children behave better can decrease meltdowns or at least make them less intense. Calming the meltdown rather than trying to fix the cause is the fastest and most effective way to stop and prevent meltdowns.

Children have meltdowns for lots of reasons. These include being angry, scared, embarrassed, tired, hungry, or in other states of physical or emotional discomfort. It is rare for young children to misbehave for revenge or to annoy people because they lack the ability to plan and understand others’ reactions. Meltdowns usually are a sign children are under more distress than they can handle. Meltdowns happen even though children really are doing the best they can to behave in the situation. They just do not have the ability to behave better when upset or under stress. However, children need to learn to cope better to decrease meltdowns.

Meltdowns are challenging for us because they can be embarrassing and children can do and say things that are hurtful. Sometimes meltdowns are confusing because we do not know what set them off. They can be scary because of their intensity. Children become very hard to manage during meltdowns. Reason simply does not get through to them. Intense emotions stop the brain from working properly. So, the ability to follow reason or use self-control decreases dramatically during meltdowns. Discipline often does not work because fear of consequences or caregivers’ disapproval intensifies the distress. Or, children may be too upset to care about the consequences in the moment. Harsh discipline sometimes scares a child into stopping the meltdown in the moment, but is not an effective long-term solution.

The priority during meltdowns is to help children calm down. After children are calm, they can learn from instruction, reason, or discipline. This is not giving in to children, it is training them to avoid meltdowns in the future. Children are still responsible for their behavior. Although it can test our patience, the most productive strategy is to wait until children are calm enough to think clearly so they can learn what they need to do differently next time.

Calming children is easier earlier in the meltdown. So, it is helpful to know and watch for warning signs that children are about to meltdown. We might notice a change in breathing, voice, facial expression, or other body language. There might be things that children say when starting to have a meltdown. As soon as the meltdown is recognized, we can start the calming process to get things back on track.

Calming children during meltdowns requires soothing and what works for one child might not work for others. Also, what works for a child at one age or in one situation might not work in others. What does tend to help all children is when we stay calm and kind, even though it is hard. Practicing calming strategies together shows children what we want them to do, but it also helps us stay calm. Using a soft voice, slow movements, not grabbing a child, and having a sympathetic expression helps calm children as well as keeping us calm.

Calming activities include a cool cloth on the face, long slow deep breaths, tensing and relaxing muscles, and holding a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Validating, acknowledging how the child feels, can be very helpful. Older children might benefit from soothing and reassuring words from a caregiver. Younger children might appreciate being held or rocked. However, for some children a hug is calming, but others might be upset by being held. Similarly, some children calm down using intense physical activity, but others are ramped up by it. We know calming strategies are working when we see children start to relax and return to their usual behavior.

It is best to wait until children are fully calm to address the meltdown or what led up to it. At that point, a wonderful way to start the conversation is by telling children we know they had feelings that were too big to control and that we want to help them learn how to deal with big feelings. Then we can describe appropriate ways to express emotions and make requests. This also is the time for helping children face the situation that caused the meltdown or accept the consequence of their behavior during the meltdown. This might involve trying to make right any harm or damage they caused during the meltdown.

Repeating this process during each meltdown teaches children how to handle intense emotions appropriately, decreasing the likelihood and intensity of future meltdowns. It takes time to learn this skill, just like any other skill. Also, as children’s brains mature, they have an increased ability to use self-control to avoid meltdowns. So, although it is a gradual process, it will get better!

Let’s Talk About Your Adult Temper Tantrums

When we see toddlers have temper tantrums in line at the grocery store, we feel sympathetic for the parents trying to calm them down. We’re even quick to dismiss the behavior as the “terrible twos”—no big deal. But what about when it’s an adult that’s having the public meltdown? What about when it’s us—a grown person with a credit card! A family! A career!—boiling over, in front of everyone at the grocery store? That’s a different scenario.

While adult tantrums make for great stories (or videos—remember that viral Vine of the Apple Store lady?), we often don’t talk about how to deal with them—or where they come from. Author and psychiatrist Jeffery Smith, M.D., explains on his blog that adult tantrums happen when someone’s “inner child” acts out.

Adult tantrums happen when someone’s “inner child” acts out.

When we’re children, he explains, we have tantrums when our needs are unmet and we require an adult to help us out. When the adult doesn’t fix the problem (aka doesn’t buy the toy), a child’s emotions run high, and the anger bubbles over into an emotional freak out. Suddenly, Mom (or the caretaker) turns from their ally into a threat, and therefore all systems go into extreme reactive mode. A child feels like their entire self—their existence—is suddenly under attack.

“The child has no choice but to put up a life-and-death fight to get Mom to change her mind,” Smith writes. “The stakes are not simply the thing being fought over, but life itself. If the child loses the battle, then, like the gladiators of Rome, he or she will die.”

The hallmarks of a temper tantrum: the anger doesn’t dissipate, and the destructive behavior doesn’t stop even when it’s obviously dysfunctional, according to Smith.

And when adults have unmet needs—like, that cashier who won’t give them a free refill—they can fall back into this same behavior. “Adults can and do slip back into the mode of a child having a temper tantrum,” Smith writes. When we can’t get what we want, we can feel like we’re back in that same battle.

If your anger and frustration starts to bubble up inside, here’s what you can do to protect yourself from going off (and potentially going viral).

1. Predict Your Meltdown

If you know that there’s a certain behavior or activity that leads to your tantrums, predict it and avoid it. One example: If sitting in traffic makes your blood boil, give yourself a few minutes to meditate or calm down after your commute.

Robert G. Harrington, a professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, told RealSimple that people should remember the acronym HALT: hunger, agitated, lonely, or tired. These things commonly spark tantrums, no matter a person’s age. Recognize when you slip into a HALT state, and try and curb your tantrum. If you’re feeling hungry, for example, grab a snack before that hunger turns into hanger—it’s a very real thing.

2. Try to Contain Your Rage

Let’s set the scene: You feel like raging at the store clerk for not giving you that discount you know you deserve. The anger is building, and you’re ready to yell, shout, or threaten them that you’re not leaving until something is resolved to your liking.

In a situation like this, Smith writes that you should try to contain your anger, especially if it’s directed at another person. “Destructiveness must be contained or it will continue to escalate,” he writes.

But calming down is easier said than done, and the decision to stop has to come from the individual themselves.

One way to control your anger: control your breathing. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking deep breaths, which will also help you take time to think before acting. Wait until you’re thinking clearly—and willing to let the other side be heard—before raising your voice or taking any kind of extreme action.

Wait until you’re thinking clearly—and willing to let the other side be heard—before raising your voice or taking any kind of extreme action.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends using “I” statements (“I feel like you’re not holding up your end of the deal”) rather than placing the blame on someone else (“You’re not holding up your end of the deal!”). You can also try to use humor to release tension, as long as you stay away from sarcasm.

If controlling your anger is something you struggle with on a daily basis, it’s worth reaching out to a professional who can help you come up with solutions specifically tailored to you. This is especially important if your anger frequently causes you to do things that hurt others or causes recurring regret.

3. Re-establish Empathy and Connection

When a child has a tantrum, the best thing a caretaker can do is comfort them, help them accept that, yes, they’ve lost their battle, but let them know they’re still loved and forgiven.

Smith writes this ideal outcome applies to adults as well. Once the destruction has settled, the tantrum-ee must “surrender,” so to speak, and let themselves find comfort, whether that’s from another person or self-soothing. “The person having the tantrum must feel needy enough and safe enough to allow the self to be soothed,” Smith says.

When dealing with someone in a tantrum state, let them know that, while their actions weren’t acceptable, they can be forgiven. Smith says this is how a tantrum-ee can accept their mistake—but know they can still love themselves.

With these tips in mind, the next time you feel like you could fling a bagel at an Einstein’s Bagel employee, hopefully you can reign it back in and reconsider it.

Read next: The Secret to Dealing with Life’s Little Frustrations

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Why Do Kids Have Tantrums and Meltdowns?

It will come as no surprise to parents that the most common problem that brings young children to the attention of a psychologist or psychiatrist is emotional outbursts—tantrums and meltdowns.

Indeed, tantrums and meltdowns are among the biggest challenges of parenting. They’re hard to understand, hard to prevent, and even harder to respond to effectively when they’re happening. And when they occur with frequency past the age in which they’re developmentally expected—those terrible twos—they can become a big problem for the child, not just the beleaguered adults who endure them.

Tantrums vs. meltdowns

Many people make a distinction between tantrums and meltdowns, though neither is a clinical term. “Tantrum” is commonly used to describe milder outbursts, during which a child still retains some measure of control over his behavior. One benchmark many parents use is that a tantrum is likely to subside if no one is paying attention to it. This is opposed to a meltdown, during which a child loses control so completely that the behavior only stops when he wears himself out and/or the parent is able to calm him down.

Whether mild or severe, tantrums are symptoms that a child is struggling with emotions she can’t regulate. Anger, of course, is the No. 1 emotion that causes children to lose their heads and blow up—think of it as the kid version of road rage, says child and adolescent psychiatrist Steven Dickstein. The child feels she deserves or needs something that is being deliberately withheld from her—the cookie, the video game, something she covets at the toy store—and is overwhelmed by her frustration and sense of injustice.

But anxiety is another big trigger; it causes kids to freak out, overriding the logic that would enable her to see that her anxiety is out of proportion to the situation.

Related: How Anxiety Leads to Disruptive Behavior

Underlying causes

When children don’t develop emotional regulation as part of normal development, the causes are varied. “The thing is, there’s no such thing as tantrum disorder, or meltdown disorder,” notes Dr. Dickstein. “Tantrums and meltdowns are like fevers—they can be triggered by so many different problems that we can’t make them stop until we understand what’s triggering them.

Sometimes the inability to regulate emotions is the result of an underlying problem. Some of the common causes of frequent meltdowns are:

  • ADHD: In a recent study conducted by Dr. Amy Roy of Fordham University, more than 75 percent of children who presented with severe temper outbursts also fit the criteria for ADHD. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been diagnosed with ADHD—in fact the disorder may be overlooked in kids who have a history of aggression. “What people don’t understand is that a lack of focus, an inability to complete work and tolerate boredom, among other symptoms, can contribute to the escalation toward the explosive outbursts,” explains Dr. Vasco Lopes, a clinical psychologist. So you have to get to the underlying cause.”
  • Anxiety: Anxiety is another major contributor. Even if kids don’t have a full-blown anxiety disorder, they may still be overreactive to anxiety-provoking situations and melt down when they are stressed. Kids who have undiagnosed learning disabilities or who have suffered trauma or neglect may react this way when confronted with an uncomfortable or painful situation.
  • Learning problems: When your child acts out repeatedly in school or during homework time, it’s possible that he has an undiagnosed learning disorder. Say he has a lot of trouble with math, and math problems make him very frustrated and irritable. Rather than ask for help, he may rip up an assignment or start something with another child to create a diversion from his real issues.
  • Depression and irritability: Depression and irritability also occur in a subset of kids who have severe and frequent temper tantrums. A new disorder called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or DMDD, describes kids who have severe outbursts with chronic severe irritability in between. “Kids who are highly irritable are like water at 90 degrees—always on the cusp of boiling,” says Dr. Lopes. “Parents of these kids are always walking on eggshells because they respond to very subtle things, like the slightest thing not going their way.”
  • Autism: Children on the autism spectrum are also often prone to dramatic meltdowns. These children tend to be rigid—dependent on consistent routine for their emotional comfort—and any unexpected change can set them off. And they may lack the language and communication skills to express what they want or need.
  • Sensory processing issues: Sensory processing challenges, often seen in autistic children and teens as well as many with ADHD, may cause kids to be overwhelmed by stimulation, and short-circuit in inconsolable meltdowns.

Skills that may be lacking

Whatever the trigger, most mental health professionals believe that children who have frequent emotional outbursts are lacking certain skills that would help them better handle situations that cause them frustration, anxiety or anger. They include:

  • Impulse control
  • Problem solving
  • Delaying gratification
  • Negotiating
  • Communicating wishes and needs to adults
  • Knowing what’s appropriate or expected in a given situation
  • Self-soothing

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A vicious cycle

A good deal of tantrum behavior that parents see as intentional or manipulative is much less voluntary than they realize, Dr. Dickstein notes. But that is not to say that it isn’t learned behavior.

Kids with serious temper problems aren’t consciously calculating throwing tantrums, but they may have learned, through reinforcement from adults, that tantrums get results. “There’s no question that kids who haven’t outgrown tantrums do have lagging skills in emotional regulation,” says Dr. Lopes, “but then I think that weakness is maintained and exacerbated by conditioned learning.”

If a child encounters a problem, doesn’t know how else to handle it, and resorts to tantrums, he may well learn that, over time, this helps him get his way. “It becomes a vicious cycle,” says Dr. Lopes, “because instead of honing and practicing the adaptive skills that kids normally learn to solve problems collaboratively, these kids are learning maladaptive responses when they get frustrated. And by continuing to practice those skills, they are strengthening these behaviors over time and using them in a greater number of situations.”

Parents are primary

Whatever the cause, clinicians stress that in managing outbursts, the first step is understanding the triggers and testing ways the environment can be changed to reduce the incidence of outbursts. And when it comes to looking for ways to adjust a child’s environment, parents are primary.

“We don’t blame parents for tantrums,” Dr. Dickstein says, “because parents are only part of what goes into a child’s behavior patterns, along with temperament and development. But parent behavior is adjustable, so it’s the most powerful tool we have for helping young children.”

How to Avoid an Emotional Meltdown, and What to Do When It Happens Anyway

In the stressful and overstimulating world we live in, sometimes becoming so overwhelmed by your stress that it significantly affects your behavior (what we refer to here as a “meltdown”) may be an all-too-human occurrence.

For some people, a meltdown may look like crying uncontrollably. For others it may look like snapping at others or lashing out angrily. And for still others it may involve panicking or running away from a stressful situation.

Feeling embarrassed about a meltdown afterward is also human, particularly if it occurred in a public place. And there may be other repercussions, such as damaged relationships, if the meltdown included attacks on others.

The good news is that you can recover from a meltdown, and you can learn to manage the stressors in your life that threaten to push you over the edge, so that future meltdowns are less likely.

RELATED: The United States of Stress: You’ll Never Think About Stress the Same Way Again

Common Triggers of Emotional Meltdowns

The particulars of an emotional meltdown are unique to the individual, but certain situations raise the likelihood of a meltdown occurring in many if not most people.

Are you overtired? Getting too little sleep, particularly if it’s night after night, can wear down your ability to manage your emotions and respond to stressors.

Are you hungry? Even if you consume enough calories overall, going too long between meals may result in a blood sugar level that’s low enough to cause spaciness, light-headedness, and a reduced ability to deal with stressors.

Have you taken on too much? Taking on too many responsibilities at once — or even agreeing to too many social activities — is a surefire recipe for feeling overwhelmed.

Are you in the middle of a life transition? Getting or losing a job, starting or ending a relationship, moving to a new home, getting married, having a baby, graduating college, and many other normal life transitions make you more emotionally vulnerable.

Have you let relationship stresses build up? The closer the relationship, the more important it is to address differences as they arise. Allowing conflicts to fester typically makes them more stressful, not less.

If you’re prone to meltdowns, think about what tends to lead up to them or to set them off. Some may be easily resolved, such as being sure to eat more frequently. Others may take more work, such as learning better communication skills.

RELATED: When It Comes to Wellness, Sleep Is Causing Big Problems for Women

Nipping a Meltdown in the Bud

You can’t stop difficult situations from occurring, but you can change how you respond to them. The next time you start feeling the signs of acute stress — your face getting hot, hands getting cold, breathing getting shallow — pay attention to how you feel and, unless you’re being called upon to save someone’s life, take steps to calm yourself before attempting to respond to what’s happening. Doing the following may help:

  • Take a deep breath, or a few deep breaths.
  • Count to 10.
  • Consider excusing yourself from the room to take time to calm down.

Most problems don’t need to be solved in an instant, even if you or someone else wishes they could be. If you need a minute or two to absorb bad news or an upsetting communication, then take that minute or two, then revisit the issue when you feel calmer.

RELATED: 14 Instant Ways to Calm Yourself Down

In the Aftermath of a Meltdown

How do you feel after you’ve had a meltdown? Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed of your behavior or of letting others know how you feel? Do you feel relieved that you’ve expressed your feelings or justified for letting them out? Are you afraid or anxious about possible repercussions for your outburst?

While most people would rather forget a meltdown as quickly as possible, it can be a learning experience if you let it.

For example, if you see that you tend to melt down when you’re trying to do too much at once, you can use that information in a positive way by learning to manage your time better or learning to say “no” more often.

If you feel embarrassed about revealing your emotions in public, you might examine how you feel about your feelings. Why isn’t it okay for you to be angry, or to be sad, or to need something from someone else? Feeling ashamed about your emotions often results from cultural or parental messages — for example, that “men don’t cry” or “’nice’ women don’t get angry” — and it can get in the way of establishing good personal and professional relationships. For some people, reducing the hold of such messages requires help from a mental health professional.

And what if you feel relieved after a meltdown? Sometimes expressing your feelings — even in the form of a meltdown — can relieve stress if you’ve been holding your emotions in check. But wouldn’t it be better to learn to express your feelings before you got to the point of dissolving in tears or lashing out at others? It’s not easy, but it is possible to learn to communicate your feelings in a way that allows you to feel more connected with others and enables them to feel more connected to you.

Do You Need to Apologize After a Meltdown?

You never need to apologize for your feelings, but you may need to apologize for your behavior or for the way you expressed your feelings.

If your meltdown involved yelling at other people, being verbally or physically abusive, or destroying someone else’s property, then you should apologize — and come up with a plan to manage your emotions differently the next time you’re upset or stressed.

If your meltdown occurred at work, it’s appropriate to apologize to anyone you may have disrupted or offended. But keep it brief, and focus your energy on understanding what happened and how you can prevent further workplace meltdowns.

Preventing Future Meltdowns by Reducing the Stress in Your Life

The better you get at nipping meltdowns in the bud, the less likely you are to ever have another one. But why not take steps to reduce the negative stress in your life so you don’t even come close to having a meltdown? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Develop a stress-reduction plan. A stress-reduction plan doesn’t have to include meditating — although it can — but it does generally involve regularly taking time for yourself to do something that’s healthful and relaxing, such as exercising, practicing breathing techniques, or engaging in creative activities, such as singing or making art. It may also include eliminating or reducing sources of stress in your life, such as excessive screen time, activities you don’t enjoy or don’t have time for, and internal pressure to accomplish more than is reasonable. Thinking about and writing down an actual plan for reducing stress makes it more likely you’ll take the necessary actions to carry it out.

Listen to your body. Tight muscles, headaches, and other types of pain and discomfort are telling you something. Rather than taking a pain killer and pushing ahead with what you’re doing, take a step back and observe what’s making you tense.

Don’t ignore your feelings. Sweeping your feelings under a rug doesn’t make them go away. Acknowledging how you feel, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to look at what is causing those feelings and to take action, even if it’s just discussing your feelings with another person.

Find someone to talk to. When something upsetting happens, or you feel chronic stress building up in your life, simply talking about it with someone who can listen nonjudgmentally can have a therapeutic effect. Sometimes a therapist is the best person to talk to about difficult subjects, but a friend or other trusted acquaintance may also be able to fill this role.

Spend more time in nature. Being in a natural environment has been shown to have calming effects. You don’t have to be active in that environment, necessarily. You can just observe the sights and sounds of nature, such as the wind blowing, water running, and birds and insects making their natural noises.

Make time for fun and play. Everyone needs to recharge from time to time by doing things they enjoy.

Steer clear of people who are hurtful and unkind. You’re not obliged to socialize with people who don’t treat you with care and respect, even if they’re related to you. Minimize the time you spend with people whose company you don’t enjoy, and seek out more time with those you do.

Get help if you need it. There’s a lot you can do on your own to lower your stress level and your risk of having another meltdown. But if self-help measures aren’t providing the relief you need, consider seeing a professional for help. For depression, anxiety, or relationship problems, a psychotherapist — such as a psychologist or licensed clinical social worker — may be your best bet. For help with time management or goal-setting, a life coach or health coach may be a good option.

Whatever type of professional you choose to see, check out that person’s credentials, and be as clear as you can be about the type of help you’re seeking.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Practice Breath-Focused Meditation

October 23, 2017

“Sometimes it takes a meltdown to cool down.” Evinda Lepins

A recent meltdown I had wasn’t a public scene or even a really big deal around our house. It was significant enough, though, that I realized how important something was to me that I’ve been ignoring. I try to be preventative about these sorts of things, but sometimes prevention doesn’t work because of others’ reactions. My solution sounds something like this until I calm down, “I can’t believe I’ve let this go on,” “Never again,” and “I’m done.”

By my final fit, I’m left with what I used to think was an unusual outcome, but now I’ve come to expect it – an emotional hangover and a spiritual awakening. Like what Terrell Owens said, “Instead of me having a breakdown, I’m focusing on me having a breakthrough.”

Since I grew up in a silent family who shut up about their emotions and shut down everyone else’s, meltdowns ended up being the only way to figure out how I felt. It shouldn’t come as a surprise I married into a family that did the same thing because we’re attracted to what we know. They’re screamers, so I hoped they’d scream about their emotions so I could finally talk about mine. As it turned out, their screaming was also about shutting up and shutting down.

Shy on role models, I eventually learned to appreciate emotional meltdowns for what they were – a gateway to my emotions. Even though I’m still shaken by their messiness and hung-over feelings, and I fear I’ve made things messier instead of mending them, meltdowns haven’t let me down as long as I handle them constructively. I stop looking at what everyone else needs to do and, instead, I look at my part in the meltdown. I get in touch with how I feel and I decide what changes I want to make.

So, what’s actually melting away?

I used to hate to cry in front of people. I still do, but it helped when a friend said, “I love when you cry. You’re melting.”

I knew what she meant. I relaxed a little each time I cried around her. She could see me softening and I could feel it. For years I tried keeping up a happy pretense and a façade of being distant from my emotions by laughing off how I felt and saying, “I’m fine. Really, I am.”

I’m like Elf, “Smiling’s my favorite.” However, weightiness surfaced when I recognized emotions have a life of their own if we ignore them. Instead of being happy like Elf, we numb out with food, zone out on Facebook, and distract ourselves with problems we can’t fix, disturbing news reports, and our own bad habits. Sometimes we want to die when we already feel emotionally dead or our emotions (the ones we think we’re not supposed to feel) feel too out of control. I dislike being called “too sensitive” and hearing I overreact, but I dislike even more not being true to who I am and what’s going on inside of me.

So, I melt.

I ask myself things like: What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What do I need? What do I want to change?

When I ignored the answers to these questions or didn’t bother to ask them at all, I ended up in a depression I almost didn’t survive. It’s like the anonymous quote, “I froze because frozen hearts don’t feel pain.”

I tried to give up feeling pain so I wouldn’t inconvenience others with my emotions. The result of freezing my pain was freezing almost all of my feelings. I was robotic. I went through the motions of life without emotion, or tried to. I felt like one of the walking dead and wondered what the point was of getting up each day.

This is when I had the meltdown of all meltdowns.

“On the other hand, I believe there’s hope, because the breakdown and the repair are happening simultaneously.” Kathryn Bigelow

I cried for two years, or so it seemed. I broke my silence and told a couple of trusted friends about my depression and not feeling anything except hopelessness. I let my family know I felt desperate even though they didn’t want to hear it, not because they didn’t care, but because it was scary to listen to. I contained my meltdowns to our living room and limited the best I could my accusations, name calling, and cuss words. The more I talked, the more I was able to share my emotions constructively by talking about myself and how I felt and my plan for feeling better.

I stopped trying to get a thicker skin and focused on being kind to myself and talking about my pain. I got in touch with what my heart longed for instead of the chaos in my head. I had less severe emotional hangovers and more startling spiritual awakenings. I started healing from my meltdowns because I saw their value and handled them right.

When you melt down, do you know why it’s happening? Do you see its value? Do you ask the right questions? Our emotions and handling them right are key to melting well.

In This Together,
Kim

On the Side: My manuscript is about emotions and the value of getting in touch with how we feel. I’d love feedback from you about what to include and about what you’d like to read more about.

Thanks for the images, .com.

Originally published at skimhenson.wordpress.com

Magazine

Emotional meltdowns are no longer occasions for me or my partner to feel abandoned, unheard, or uncared for. Nowadays, they’ve become opportunities for us to strengthen our trust and deepen our intimacy. But before I could really receive his help, or offer my help to him, I first needed to learn how to be fully present for my own painful emotions. I needed to become my own compassionate witness.

Fear, anger, sadness, grief can be very uncomfortable, and our first instinct is to run from them. We’ll do anything not to feel them. We’ll read a book, watch a movie, go out, or call a friend. But the most important thing we can do is stay with the feelings while cultivating an attitude of gentle care and witnessing.

Of course, we like having someone there to hold us as we cry or feel scared. But what if we could learn to do that for ourselves first? The more we show up for our pain, the more fearless we become. We may feel really sad or afraid, but we know we’ll be okay. We begin to trust in our own presence, and the feeling of abandonment—which we all hate, and which often comes from abandoning ourselves—will dissipate.

It’s true that we don’t exist in isolation and that we do have a network of friends and family to rely on. But partners, friends, and even family will come and go. At the end of the day, you are the only constant. The person who will reliably be there when you’re down and out, again and again, is you.

Once you cultivate your own ability witness your emotions compassionately, you’ll no longer expect your partner to rescue you from pain. It’s not their responsibility. They’re only there to support you. It takes a huge burden off your partner and inspires them to show up for you with much deeper presence. And when your partner needs emotional help, you won’t be scared, confused, overwhelmed, or tempted to run away. You’ll be able to stay and be present for them, exactly the way you do for yourself.

A few tips to move through difficult emotions on your own:

  1. Recognize that thoughts and feelings come and go. Every feeling has a beginning, a middle and an end. Emotions and thoughts are like clouds in the sky. They may seem intense and compelling in the moment, but eventually they’ll pass. Everything does. After they’re gone, you remain. You are the sky where emotional storms emerge and then dissolve.
  2. Get support from the most trustworthy of places: the earth. Since the moment you were born, the earth has been there beneath you, holding and supporting you. It is the ground you walk on and can fall upon, anytime. During times of emotional distress, surrender yourself to the earth—literally. Go lie down on the grass or in the sand. Pour out your sorrow and grievances, and let it receive them. Let the earth, in its steady, firm and dependable way, be your witness.
  3. Tune into to your body and ask how it wants to be supported right now. It could be a hand on your heart or belly, some pressure on your back, or a tight self-hug. It could be a big glass of water, a hot cup of tea, a blanket, a bath, or to get up out of your chair and walk or stretch. There is a deep intelligence the body transmits through intuitive nudges, showing you concrete actions you can take to move emotions through more smoothly.

Once you cultivate the ability to stay with your own emotions, you’ll be much better able to get your partner’s support and give it as well.

Before a Meltdown

If you need support: To the best of your ability, let your partner know your emotional patterns in advance. For example, I’m quite sensitive and can burst into tears unexpectedly. So I’ve told my partner: “Sometimes when I’m with you, I may cry for no reason. It may have nothing to do with you. When that happens, I don’t need you to fix or solve the situation. I don’t need you to save me. I only want to know that you’re here. I want to just feel your steady presence. I may also ask for supporting touch from you. And trust me, I will be okay.”

If you’re giving support: Ask your partner what works for them when they’re highly emotional. Is there a specific way they need to be touched? Do they generally want you around or prefer to be alone? Do they want you to ask them questions or do they prefer to stay quiet and only share verbally when the emotion has passed?

During a Meltdown

If you need support: First, remind yourself that your partner is not responsible for chasing your emotional clouds away. They’re simply here to support you with their presence. Then, ask very clearly for what you need. For example, “Would you place your hand on my heart, please?” “Firmer pressure, please.” “Would you stroke my lower back, please?” “Would you put your arms around me?” If you don’t want to speak at all, gently take your partner’s hands and guide them onto your body. And also let them know if you simply want space to be alone.

If you’re giving support: When your partner is going through their storm, reassure them through your breathing, your touch, and your words. You can breathe with them and try match their breaths. You can touch them in the way they request, or however you intuit would help them. You can affirm them with words like, “I’m right here. It’s okay. I love you.” Ask your partner: “Is there a place on your body you’d like me to touch to support you? Is there anything else I can do for you? Would it help you to talk or would you rather be quiet?” When your partner does speak, listen deeply. Look them in the eye. Gently hold their hand. Resist the temptation to offer advice or solutions, unless they specifically ask for it.

After a Meltdown

If you’ve received support, thank your partner for their loving presence, for being your co-witness. If you’ve given support, thank your partner for showing you their vulnerability. The more your practice, the more you’ll find that even the most challenging emotional storms can offer beautiful opportunities for a couple to deepen their bond.

Emily Nature helps smart, successful career women have fun in the game of love and relationships.

4 Ways to Save Your Reputation After You Have a Meltdown at the Office

“You should absolutely never cry at work.”

We’ve probably all heard that warning too many times to count. And, to some extent, that advice holds true. You definitely want to maintain a stable and professional reputation while inside the four walls of your office.

But, we all know that sometimes things just happen that cause us to lose our cool. Perhaps you had a bad day and began uncontrollably sobbing in the middle of your performance review. Maybe you angrily chucked your frustratingly slow computer to the ground in a fleeting fit of rage. Or, perhaps a conversation with your co-worker got a bit more heated than was appropriate during a meeting.

Whatever the circumstances, all of us encounter situations where our emotions get the best of us. But, as with anything, it’s not necessarily about what happened—it’s about how you react to it.

No, you don’t need to resign yourself to being forever known as the employee who cried in the supply closet. In fact, there are a few things you can do to patch things up and move on from your outburst.

Here’s your step-by-step guide for bouncing back after you lose your composure at work.

1. Recognize That You’re Human

First things first, it’s important that you acknowledge your emotional blunder and simply accept the fact that it happened. Sure, it was definitely embarrassing and maybe even somewhat inappropriate in a work setting—but you’re only human.

It can be tempting to keep rehashing and reflecting on the incident. But, what purpose does that serve other than to make you feel bad?

So, stop beating yourself up over your outburst, and instead determine your best course of action for remedying the situation. After all, you can’t expect everyone else in the office to move on if you won’t.

2. Determine What Set You Off

Having one emotional eruption in the office is uncomfortable—but still manageable. Being the employee who loses it every time a co-worker borrows your stapler without asking? Well, then you’ve got problems.

Needless to say, it’s important that you determine what exactly inspires your flare-ups so that you’re self-aware enough to proactively avoid or suppress any situations that might lead to a future incident.

Many times, our emotional fits aren’t caused directly by the event that preceded them. Often, it’s more of a “straw that broke the camel’s back” scenario. Perhaps you didn’t burst into tears just because your boss asked you to re-do a project. In fact, you may have already been feeling stressed due to the long hours you pulled the night before and a terrible traffic jam on the way to work that morning. The request for revisions was just the event that finally pushed you over the edge.

Get to the root cause so that you’re aware of these triggers and can better manage your emotions in the future.

3. Set Future Strategies

Once you’ve identified exactly what sent you spinning, it’s time to implement some tactics to ensure you don’t have that same reaction again.

Were you already feeling frazzled and edgy when you got to work? Try waking up earlier to leave yourself some extra time to decompress in the morning. Did a co-worker say or do something that set you off? Facilitate a discussion with him or her to talk over ways you can better work together. Was your work overwhelming you? Try sneaking away for a relaxing stroll instead of eating lunch at your desk.

Brainstorm some solutions that will help you keep your emotional responses in check. These strategies will prevent you from flying off the handle when a situation or relationship gets tense or stressful down the road.

4. Apologize

Now comes the part that you’re likely dreading the most: apologizing to anyone your incident affected. Whether your outburst just made your co-workers a little uncomfortable or you made the mistake of directly offending someone when a situation got heated, saying a genuine “I’m sorry” is a critically important part of the process—even if it makes your palms a little clammy.

Approach each person individually to deliver a personalized and sincere apology for your actions. Assure them that you know your response was inappropriate, and you’re taking steps to make sure that your emotions never get the better of you again. End your apology with a firm handshake and a “thanks” for their understanding.

This effort not only shows your peers that you regret and recognize your slip-ups, but also that you value their opinion of you.

Of course, you always want to do your best to uphold a polished and controlled reputation in your office. But, sometimes things can get under your skin and inspire an overly emotional reaction. However, that doesn’t mean you need to accept an eternal reputation as the office’s emotional rollercoaster. Follow these steps to successfully patch things up and move on with your life and career.

Photo of the author in real life. Photo: Nick White/Getty Images

There are times when the best of us lose our tempers at work, slamming doors or bursting into tears in view of the entire office. (Wouldn’t know personally, but I hear things.) In one moment, it feels like catharsis; in the next, it feels a lot more like embarrassment or regret. And yet, if a new paper is to be believed, there is a stupidly simple way to save face here: Tell everyone you freaked out because you are just that passionate about your work.

The researchers called this “emotion reframing,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like — in a workplace context, as the study authors use in their paper, it’s reframing an office meltdown as a natural consequence of your dedication to the job. In one experiment, for example, they showed study participants this vignette:

Samuel works in the advertising department of a large firm. He is currently working with three coworkers on a team. Samuel has become increasingly sad with the team dynamic. One day he breaks down and begins crying in front of his teammates. He buries his face in his hands.

This was followed by one of three conclusions: Samuel/Samantha either apologized by saying, “I’m sorry, I am just really passionate about this,” or by saying, “I’m sorry, I am just really emotional about this,” or by simply saying, “I’m sorry,” and leaving it at that. The study volunteers were most impressed by the “passionate” apology, judging the Samuel/Samantha in that condition to be more highly competent than the Samuels/Samanthas in the “emotion” or the plain old apology conditions. (Interestingly, gender didn’t make a difference here.) Four other experiments turned out similar results.

One of the co-authors — Harvard Business School’s Alison Wood Brooks — happens to be the brains behind a study I remind myself of often, the gist of which is this: Tell yourself your nervous jitters are a sign of excitement, not anxiety, and you’ll do better on whatever task it is you’re jittery about. This new research is kind of an extension of that, only it involves hoodwinking your colleagues, too, not just yourself. Worth a try once you’ve calmed down.

Sources

Harvard Business School

All people are emotional beings, and it’s quite natural that we experience a wide range of emotions in the workplace. We all try to keep our temper, but no one is perfect. That’s why anyone can lose their temper at work. Unfortunately, there are days when our emotions get the best of us, and it can be shameful or embarrassing and then comes that question: “What do I do now?”

Typically, a meltdown at work is not a result of a single stressful event. When you are a student who has to juggle full-time studies and a full-time job, you often feel exhausted and frustrated, especially when you have lots of challenging assignment piling up and can’t find reliable essay homework help to cope with them. When you spend long hours in the office and have to stay awake late at night to complete your assignments, you feel stressed and may experience burnout.

During such times, you can lose control of your emotions in a professional setting. You may burst into tears in front of your boss, make a hostile remark during a team meeting or send an angry email to the difficult client. Of course, you’ll regret such behavior within seconds and start thinking of how you can salvage your professional reputation after losing your cool.

Losing your temper at work can be a problem, but it is possible to regain trust after such a catastrophic mistake. Keep reading to learn about the effective strategies that will help you repair the damage and spare your reputation.

Workplace Stress. Just Face It.

You’re stressed. Just face it. Your reaction to what happened will significantly determine the future of your reputation, so the best approach is to accept the responsibility. Although there may be different reasons to be frustrated about the circumstances or feel angry with other people, it would be wrong to blame someone else except you because it was your choice behave in such a way. You should be honest and admit your own mistakes. In this way, you will earn the respect of your colleagues.

You’ll need to analyze the situation to determine why you lost your temper. You have to recognize your trigger and take into account the underlying issues, for example, personal troubles that can add stress to your life. When you identify your triggers, you’ll be able to find the best way to avoid them.

Apologize Appropriately

A sincere apology is a good idea after an angry outburst, and it has to be focused and specific. Acknowledge your indiscretion and explain why you got angry but don’t try to justify the reasons that caused your reaction. Don’t say negative things about anybody else.

Ask your co-workers what you can do to make the situation better and give them a chance to say what they think and what they have to say about it. Listen to what other people may say about the incident and don’t try to defend yourself because you may just make the situation worse. Your losing cool at work may have affected your colleagues in ways you didn’t realize so let them share their feelings.

Be ready that people may react not as you have expected and you just can’t control that. You do the right thing when you apologize, but if your apology is not accepted, there is no use to make attempts to defend yourself because you will not improve the situation. Your colleagues may need some time to forgive your actions. They may have some hard feelings for some time, but you should keep your temper in check when they try to tease you.

Take Necessary Actions to Make Amends

If you had a meltdown at work and did some damage, you must commit your time and energy to salvage the situation. You’ll need to spend some time to make phone calls to people who may have suffered from your actions or even pay extra costs with your own money. You have to do what is right and demonstrate a certain degree of leadership.

Everyone can make mistakes; we can’t just avoid it. But if you want to have a successful career, you should consider the situation as an opportunity for your personal growth and use it as a learning experience. You should take some steps to prevent future meltdowns and improve your communication at work. You need to learn to manage your feelings constructively and professionally.

You should seek some effective, healthy ways to avoid meltdowns altogether in the future. Search the internet to find the information about different techniques we can use for remaining calm. There are lots of articles on calming techniques on various life-coaching websites, self-help blogs, and meditation websites. You should find what works best for you and use them to control your temper at work.

This is a sponsored post and does not necessarily reflect the views of Academy Success.

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