How to Manage Stress So It Doesn’t Lead to a Breakdown

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Dr. Karin Ryan, PsyD, LP, Clinic Director, and Outpatient Therapist.   Are you stressed? While some stress is a normal part of life, there are times when that stress builds. Those very high-stress times may lead to feeling like we are going to break down.   "A breakdown is when you have a period of extreme mental or emotional stress, and it starts affecting you. You may feel overwhelming stress, anxiety, or depression, which makes you unable to function in your daily life," says Dr. Karin Ryan. However, there are signs in your thinking and your actions to help you determine if stress is mounting to a breakdown, and ways to help you manage stress so you can prevent a breakdown. Related: What Radical Acceptance Is & How to Apply It in Your Life 

Signs of Stress 

Several signs of stress may lead to a breakdown. For example, your thoughts may sound like this: 
  • I can't take this anymore 
  • I can't keep doing this 
  • I am losing it, or I am going to lose it 
What it might look like: 
  • Crying 
  • Anger, outbursts, irritability 
  • Frazzled behavior, difficulty focusing or concentrating 
  • Insomnia 
Related: Can Therapy Help With Insomnia?  What it might feel like: 
  • Intense fatigue
  • Intense restlessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Fear
Check-in with yourself. Do you display the signs of stress above? If so, it may be time to practice stress management skills. Related: What Are Distress Tolerance Skills? 

Nystrom & Associates on Twin Cities Live 

Watch Dr. Karin Ryan on Twin Cities Live as she discusses the practical ways to implement stress management during stressful times.  

Ways to Manage Stress 

When you're experiencing high stress and feeling like you are at your breaking point, it is time to use crisis management skills.   Here are several ways to manage stress, outlined by Dr. Karin Ryan. Remember, not all will work for you. Pick and choose which skills will work best for you and your unique situation. 
  • Call a crisis line. The National Suicide Hotline is 988, or call your local county Mental Health Crisis Team.  
  • Take a walk, go for a run, or take a nap. 
  • Take a day off for your mental health. 
  • Cancel plans. 
  • Say to a loved one, “I cannot keep up with this pace, this system. Can you help me figure out what to do right now?” 
  • Ask for time with a parent, adult child, friend, or someone who is comforting for you. 
  • Validate the stress and assure yourself with logic and hope. 
  • Identify what will help in the longer term. Changes can be made; this helps bring hope and assurance that it will not always be like this. 
Related: Breathing Exercises for Anxiety & Stress 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates

One change that may be helpful is talking to a mental health professional. Working with a therapist through talk therapy can be a long-term solution for dealing with stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, helps you change negative thought patterns over time. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online to start today. 

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