What is a Mental Breakdown

It’s no secret that mental health is an ongoing journey. Just like anything else in life, there are hard times and there are amazing times! Having a mental breakdown is one of the “lows” that needs to be more openly discussed.

It’s important to know that the hard times do not take away from your overall mental health success.

If I didn’t know what a true mental breakdown is I’d swear that I have one a couple times a month.

Maintaining a full schedule with responsibilities is hard!

While being stressed out is not something to take lightly, reaching your “breaking point” due to stress is not the only component to having a mental breakdown.

When you’re experiencing a mental breakdown, you’ll be experiencing un-manageable amounts of depression and anxiety.

Your mind will feel like it’s running around like crazy trying to solve your problem but with no success.

In my experience, it’s a frantic, depressing, hopeless kind of feeling. Almost like I want to be proactive and help myself but my brain is telling me nothing will help. It’s exhausting.

The general way a mental breakdown is commonly described is a state of extreme stress and/or anxiety where the individual cannot continue to carry out daily tasks.

mental breakdown

Basically, any extreme mental state that interferes with your typical activities. 

Let me tell you, I have experienced a mild mental breakdown before. For me, it feels like extreme burnout.

During my breakdown, I felt like I would lose my mind if I continued to sit at my desk in front of the computer. It felt impossible to sit there.

Working myself to the point of stress and exhaustion every day for a while had caught up with me. Every little thing made me anxious. I could not hold it in any longer.

I asked to go home early that day. The moment I stepped outside to walk to my car I could feel a little bit of temporary relief.

This happened before COVID-19 so I was not remotely working as I am now. I know for a fact that working from home has played an incredible role in my improved mental health today.

So what can we do to avoid stress to the point of a mental breakdown?

The good news is that if you’re willing to put in the work to understand yourself, you can work toward avoiding mental breakdowns through self awareness and self-care.

While this may not be a solution for very extreme cases, I can honestly say that it’s helped me significantly!

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Let’s break down the key traits of a mental breakdown and a few things you can do to avoid it and/or help relieve the situation if it happens to you.

In the event of the “average” mental breakdown, symptoms such as panic attacks, social withdrawal, paranoia and general disinterest in typical activities and tasks occur (among other things). 

As previously mentioned, mental breakdowns are typically caused by extreme anxiety and depression. 

So what actions can you take to prevent or ease the severity of daily anxiety and depression?

Here are my top 4 tips that I use all the time to maintain my own mental health!

Take control of your to-do list

Overscheduling myself used to be a HUGE issue! To be honest, I’m working on finding my balance but it’s been great so far!

self care tips

Hey there! New to the self-care game?

Here is a free printable I think you might like! Click the image to check grab yours!

If you can relate to this at all, you’re familiar with feeling like you have a thousand things that need to be done right away!

The reality is that we cannot expect ourselves to be an endless well of energy, ready to tackle huge, unreasonable to-do lists every single day.

As great as it feels to get a bunch of stuff checked off our lists, it feels horrible and discouraging when you run out of time and are not able to get everything done.

When this happens, you might feel discouraged and like a failure. This not only kills your momentum, but it makes you feel like you’re drowning in tasks.

The solution – Build momentum for yourself! Decide what is REASONABLE to accomplish in a given day.

What I like to do is to pick 2 or 3 “big” things and schedule the time to complete them.

I stick to my schedule and know that at the end of the day, I’ll have them completed! You can adjust your schedule as it fits particular days.

Tip: Make a list of things you want to accomplish by the end of the week (be reasonable!). Then break down your week and look at each day to decide what you can schedule to accomplish and when.

mental breakdown

You DO have enough time in a day to accomplish your weekly tasks if you’re reasonably scheduling yourself.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Encourage yourself by celebrating the tasks you complete as you stick to your schedule. Just like in any other relationship, you need encouragement in your personal relationship with yourself too.

Be kind to yourself and commit to your (again, reasonable) schedule. This will help avoid anxious situations and stress/depression brought on by burnout.

To better understand the role stress and lack of sense of accomplishment play in experiencing burnout, check out this top seller, “I’ve been practicing this for a few months now and it’s always evolving. I can now tell how my motivation will be for a given week and will schedule tasks accordingly.

I’m more aware that I’m working toward my goals and I don’t feel defeated nearly as much as I used to.

You DO have enough time in a day to accomplish your weekly tasks if you’re reasonably scheduling yourself. Slow and steady wins the race.

Encourage yourself by celebrating the tasks you complete as you stick to your schedule. Just like in any other relationship, you need encouragement in your personal relationship with yourself too.

Be kind to yourself and commit to your (again, reasonable) schedule. This will help avoid anxious situations and stress/depression brought on by burnout.

If you’d like to read more about burnout, check out this post on How to Recover from Burnout.

Make time for yourself

If you’re used to working yourself to your breaking point, making time for yourself might be difficult at first.

Trust me, it’s essential for success in everything else you do! Decide what things make you feel refreshed and make time for them.

For me, this could be going to bed early, meditating, or getting an hour of gym time in. Even just making time to leisurely read, or even a lazy evening on the couch.

Resting your mind is important for the outcome of your week.

Honestly, being outside and/or running always resets me. I can have the most stressful work day and if I go for a run I always feel mentally rejuvenated.

mental breakdown

The more you’re able to disconnect from your work, the more rejuvenated you’ll be and the more you’ll be able to get done.

Plus, you won’t be miserable while working so it’s a win/win!

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you can’t get anything done. Especially while feeling exhausted and disappointed in the lack of items crossed off your list. 

I was going to make “exercise” it’s own tip but I know it’s not always realistic to fit all of these into a week. After all, you’re overwhelmed because you feel like you have too much to do and not enough time.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with a laundry list of things to do in order to avoid a mental breakdown. Talk about counterproductive!

So if you’re going to take anything away from this tip, just know that making time for yourself is mandatory. The activities you choose to do during that time will vary based on your current needs. 

Here are my suggested activities…

Go for a walk 

Sometimes I only have time for a 10 minute walk and sometimes I go for an hour. It depends on the day.

Anything you can do to step outside and leave your workspace can make a huge difference!

Just break when you can and “stretch your eyes” if you work on a computer like I do. You’ll feel amazing.


If you’re new to meditation, my biggest advice is not to overthink it. It’s simply the practice of clearing your mind and quieting your thoughts.

In my opinion, the best way to achieve a better state of mind is to read helpful books and practice meditation.

Speaking from experience, it became much easier for me to clear my mind once I had a “better grip” on my anxious thoughts.

You’ve probably heard me rave about it before, but the book “By understanding my anxiety and limiting beliefs better, I’ve been able to connect better when meditating. I still have a long way to go but my practice is so much better thanks to that incredible book!

If you’ve checked it out and don’t think it’s for you, perhaps a more technical perspective is what you need.

Another top seller lately, “Honestly, I haven’t read that one but it looks like the kind of direct instruction I could benefit from so perhaps I’ll check it out.

I highly suggest trying meditation in a variety of ways and use a combination of them or pick your most effective method!

Personally, I’m a ‘sit still/breath work’ kind of girl and also I love to go for a walk and “space out”. I feel refreshed and connected through both.

You’ll notice a pattern with me, I love to be outside! It’s the most grounding thing for me. My body and mind literally feel more elevated and happier once I step outside. 

Getting back to meditation methods...

You can also meditate while gazing at a candle or lying flat on your back. Sometimes I’ll lay on my back on my back with my knees to my chest and lose myself in a long stretch. 

Just 10 minutes of this feels like I’ve taken an hour long nap at times!

There’s nothing like a refreshed mind to propel you toward your goals faster and more enjoyably!

Switch up your workspace

If you work remotely, sitting at the same spot in your house can get dull real fast!

Schedule a time to go to your favorite coffee shop and work for an hour or two there! Just being around other people while you work can make it much more enjoyable.

Plus coffee is amazing!

Go for a quick run

Last Wednesday I worked myself silly. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch for the rest of the evening and wallow in my irritation and exhaustion.

Instead, I put on my running shoes and forced myself to go outside and run.

After only 30 minutes (15 minute walk/15 minute run), I had more energy and my irritation turned to a huge sense of accomplishment. I was excitement for everything I did for myself that day!

I fully expected to waste the rest of my day on the couch but instead I got a workout in and eliminated my stress!

I’m no stranger to the benefits of exercise, however, sometimes it’s hard to “get out of your head” when you’ve worked all day and you’re mentally exhausted.

Trust me! Slip on your sneakers (or “tennis shoes” as my husband calls them – we grew up in totally different parts of the country) and just run!

Focus on your breathing and enjoy the fact that you’re doing something amazing for your body!

Implement a small celebratory ritual

The point of something like this is to not only take some time for yourself but also to have something to look forward to regularly. Treat yourself to lunch on Fridays or grab an iced latte while out for your morning walk!

It’s subtle, but doing things like this for yourself will make a world of difference!

Personally, it puts me into a state of time abundance. I’ll be out for my walk with my coffee and think “I’d normally be logging on early to get ahead on my work right now…this is nice!”.

Just knowing that I have the ability to design my day to fit activities like that in (just for myself!) makes me feel amazing and starts my day off on such a positive note!

Get connected

Make the time to hang out with your friends and family. One of the best ways to avoid depression is to not be “in your head” about pressing issues in your life. A great way to do that is social interaction.

Whether you can meet a friend for coffee once a month, or plan a weekly night to have dinner with family, having some type of set social time to break up your week will also help keep you refreshed.

If this is not something that can reasonably fit into your schedule, a great alternative is to have a virtual happy hour or something like that.

Just break up your week with positive activities and interactions!

I strongly recommend talking to a therapist too! You can simultaneously work on managing your anxiety while avoiding a mental breakdown this way.

Speaking to a professional about your problems will help you get to know yourself better.

If you’re able to fit some type of interaction with a family member(s) or friends into your week along with regular visits with a counselor, I guarantee you’ll feel some sort of stress relief.

Taking the time to help yourself maintain your stress levels will change your life!

Be proactive and don’t procrastinate 

Procrastination used to be my middle name. It got to the point where the anxiety that I’d get by procrastinating just wasn’t worth putting things off.

This goes hand in hand with tip number 1 (take control of your to-do list).

Scheduling the daunting tasks first, with plenty of time to complete them is a great way to get a sense of accomplishment that will propel you further as well!

Not only do you get the “big” tasks out of the way first, but it makes you feel like you have so much more time once it’s complete.

Managing your time and being proactive will take some getting used to but it is well worth it and will relieve so much stress!

Those are my top tips that I use everyday for my mental health. I hope you found them useful and will try them for yourself! 

If you’d like more information on the signs of a mental breakdown, check out THIS ARTICLE. I found it helpful as I’m sure you might as well!

In case you missed the books I suggested in the article, I’ve linked them just below as well – Enjoy!

*Seriously, check out “You are a Badass”! It will change your life!

*If you’re enjoyed this post and would like to let me know what topics are your fav, check out my Contact page HERE and send me a message!

Interested in similar topics? Check out these relatable posts on personal development and mental well-being…


Hi, I'm Marissa! I'm passionate about mental and emotional health and want to share what I've learned over the years with others! I've seen first hand how mental health struggles can cause serious issues within relationships, work life, daily productivity, self-worth and more! I truly believe that we owe it to ourselves to bring more awareness to these life changing topics. Start your mental/emotional health journey by learning more today!

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