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Why Emotional Breakdowns Are Critical for Your Mental Health: Tips for Managing & Processing Them


An emotional breakdown is your mind's way of telling you it's time to process the difficult feelings you've been pushing aside.

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Have you ever had one of those days where you just lost it? Where the tears start flowing and you can't make them stop. An emotional breakdown, as unpleasant as they are, serves an important purpose. For many of us, emotions get pushed aside and ignored on a daily basis because feeling them fully seems too difficult. We distract ourselves in any way possible to avoid truly experiencing them. But eventually, those pent-up emotions demand to be felt, and that's where the breakdown comes in. An emotional breakdown is your mind's way of forcing you to confront those feelings you've been dodging. While it may feel like an emotional crisis at the moment, an emotional breakdown can be an opportunity to reconnect with yourself if you allow space for processing what comes up. Therapy, be it traditional face-to-face or online therapy can be of great help here.

UNDERSTANDING BREAKDOWNS

An emotional breakdown is your mind's way of telling you it's time to process the difficult feelings you've been pushing aside. Ignoring these breakdowns won't make the underlying issues go away - in fact, they'll likely intensify until you finally face them.

Emotional breakdowns occur when distressing life events or psychological struggles become too much to bear. Your coping mechanisms fail and emotions flood in, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. This is different from a nervous breakdown, which refers to a mental health crisis.

While emotional breakdowns are deeply uncomfortable, they serve an important purpose. They are a plea for help and an opportunity for growth. Breakdowns force you to confront problems you'd rather avoid, gaining insight into yourself and what you need to be happy and healthy.

Though the prospect of facing a breakdown can be scary, ignoring your emotions is not the answer. Distraction and repression may seem easier in the moment but these tactics just delay the inevitable. Your feelings will keep resurfacing until you address them.

While the storm of feelings may feel endless, breakdowns do pass. You will start to regain composure as you process the root causes and take steps to resolve them. The issues that triggered your breakdown may not disappear overnight, but by facing them head-on you'll gain the strength and wisdom to better navigate challenges in the future. With time, effort and online therapy, you can heal and become whole.

FULLY EXPERIENCING YOUR EMOTIONS

Emotional breakdowns happen, and it's important to fully experience them. Pushing emotions aside may seem easier, but avoidance only prolongs the pain. Facing your feelings, though difficult, is the only way to truly process and heal from them.

Fully Experiencing Your Emotions

Emotions are complex psychological and biological experiences- they involve thoughts, perceptions, and physical sensations. When emotions arise, it's best to find a safe space to feel them fully. Speak with a psychologist through online therapy, cry if you need to, yell into a pillow, write in a journal, and do whatever helps you release the pent-up energy.

Suppressing emotions, also known as emotional inhibition, has been linked to health issues like high blood pressure and heart disease. Releasing emotions, on the other hand, leads to increased confidence, empathy, and self-awareness. Facing feelings helps you better understand yourself and strengthens relationships by improving communication.

Don't distract yourself or numb the pain. Sit with your emotions, as difficult as that may be. Notice the thoughts that arise and how your body feels. Be gentle with yourself and avoid judgment. The more you avoid discomfort, the more paralyzed you'll feel in the face of emotional distress. With practice, facing feelings will get easier.

Breakdowns often happen when emotions have built up over time. An emotional release provides relief through catharsis, cleansing you of built-up psychological and physical tension. What's left is a sense of peace and calm as the stormy waters of your mind begin to still.

While the pain at the moment may feel unbearable, processing emotions in a healthy way leads to greater happiness and life satisfaction over the long run. Facing your feelings head-on is how you heal, grow, and truly thrive.

Do you experience your emotions fully?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Maybe


WHY DO WE AVOID OUR EMOTIONS

Why We Avoid Our Emotions

It's human nature to want to escape discomfort and pain. Our emotions often fall into this category, especially when they're intense or difficult to process. It's easier to distract yourself or push them down rather than fully experience them.

While distraction and avoidance can temporarily self-soothe by blocking distressing feelings, they prevent us from truly working through our emotions. Unprocessed emotions don't just disappear—they stay trapped within us and can resurface later, sometimes in unhealthy ways like anxiety, depression or physical illness.

Processing emotions, on the other hand, allows us to work through them in a healthy manner. It means sitting with your feelings, acknowledging them, and reflecting on where they're coming from. This helps you gain awareness and insight into yourself, your behaviours, relationships, and habits.

Some reasons we tend to avoid emotions rather than process them include:

  • Fear of feeling overwhelmed or out of control. Strong emotions can seem scary and unpredictable.

  • Lack of coping skills. We haven't learned effective strategies to deal with difficult emotions.

  • Judging emotions as "bad" or "negative". We label emotions like anger, sadness or fear as undesirable rather than a normal part of life.

  • The habit of distraction. We've developed an automatic habit of avoiding emotions through distractions like technology, substances or excessive busyness.

  • Not making time for emotions. Life moves fast and we don't schedule time to check in with our emotional state.

While distraction and avoidance provide temporary relief, processing your emotions leads to greater happiness and well-being in the long run. Don't run from your feelings—give yourself space to embrace them, and get help through online therapy. Your emotional health will thank you.

PROCESSING AN EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN

Emotional breakdowns are difficult but important experiences to process. Ignoring them won’t make the painful emotions go away—they’ll only intensify until you finally face them. Here are some tips to help you work through an emotional breakdown in a healthy way:

Practice self-care.

Make sure to prioritize sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Your mental and physical health are closely connected, so taking good care of yourself will help you have the strength and clarity of mind to cope with intense emotions. Read more about the Why and How of Self Care.

Express your feelings.

Don’t bottle up your emotions. Cry if you need to, talk to others, journal your feelings, or find creative outlets like art or music to release what you’re experiencing. Suppressing painful emotions will only make them fester and intensify.

Ask for support.

Connect with people who love and support you. Let close friends or family members know what you’re going through, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a counselor or therapist if needed. Having a strong support system will help you feel less alone and ease the burden. Talk to an expert from the comfort of your own home through online therapy.

Reflect on the underlying causes.

An emotional breakdown is often triggered by an accumulation of stress, trauma, or unresolved issues that have built up over time. Spend time in reflection, meditation, or with a therapist to gain insight into the root causes of your distress. Addressing these underlying factors is key to finding greater peace and balance in your life.

Be gentle with yourself.

Don't beat yourself up over your emotions or judge yourself for needing to take time to heal. Emotional breakdowns are a normal human experience. Practice self-compassion and patience, accepting that this is a difficult process that will take time. With care and understanding, you will start to feel whole again.

An emotional breakdown, while painful, can be an opportunity to gain self-awareness, strengthen your mental health, and build emotional resilience. By facing your feelings with courage and practising self-care, you will come out the other side a healthier and happier person.

So don't bottle it up - have that emotional breakdown. Let yourself fully experience those difficult emotions. Take online therapy, cry, scream, journal your feelings, or talk to a friend. Do whatever helps you work through what you're feeling instead of pushing it down. At MentAmigo, we understand that emotional breakdowns can be uncomfortable but they serve an important purpose and when you process emotions in a healthy way, you gain valuable insight into yourself, your relationships, and your life. You release pent-up energy and tension, making room for more positive feelings to arise. Though it may not seem like it at the moment, emotional breakdowns are a silver lining. They are your mind and body's way of telling you that you need to stop, reflect, and work through challenging feelings. So take the time to really listen to what your emotional breakdown is trying to tell you. You'll be better for it.

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