Meltdowns don’t just happen to toddlers. With all that’s going on for you (read: IA, EE, TOK, CAS…), it’s often easy to slip into a state of overwhelm and feel anxious, which then leads to a nervous breakdown. However, luckily for us humans, we are capable of regulating emotions and can use this to manage our well-being. This sounds incredibly complicated but in reality, we all do this to a certain degree in everyday life. If you’ve ever opened a present and pretended to like it even though you don’t really (just to protect someone’s feelings) then you are capable of regulating your emotions.
And on this note, how can you regulate your emotions and pick yourself up after a meltdown?
We’ve often talked about picking yourself up from small setbacks, how do you put this in practice? Read on and find out more.
1. Identify your triggers
Do your thoughts spiral out of control when you’re hungry? Or tired? In the face of a breakdown, it’s easier to fix how you feel when you’ve addressed the source of the problem. This means, if you’ve had a fatigue-induced breakdown, put your books down and have a nap. How you feel about the situation will change greatly when your basic needs have been met. When you know what triggers you, you can also prevent future outbursts.
2. Name your feelings
Take a pen and write down the feelings you can identify and a possible cause e.g. “I am upset because I tried my very best for the Math exam but I didn’t do well.” or “I’m feeling anxious because I just found out I am really behind in my CAS service hours.” When you can recognize what and why you feel that way, it’s then easier to draft a plan of action. In the case of the CAS hours, when you can identify that you are anxious because you are lagging behind, you can then make a concrete plan with the clear objective of solving that problem. Knowing how you will move forward will bring you a sense of calm and reassure your nerves.
3. Distract yourself
Unlike a light switch, we cannot simply turn our feelings off. Take an hour or two to do something you enjoy. Sometimes it’s amazing how differently you can feel about a situation after returning to it an hour later.
Self-regulating your emotions is a skill that you improve with time. This is a particularly useful skill to hone during the process of your IBDP as, the better you are at regulating your emotions, the easier you can feel positive in the face of difficult situations. It’s also harder to be affected by grief as you are able to work your way out of it and move forward. This then decreases the chances of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression that can be really crippling in your IBDP journey.
If you need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out and we’ll be glad to offer a listening ear!