How Can I Avoid a Nervous Breakdown?

Ask the experts

Sometimes I feel so stressed out by work, family, money, and life I feel like I am going to explode. What can I do to keep from snapping?

Doctor's response

In any situation where people feel as if they are losing control of their emotions, one of the most helpful strategies can be to remove oneself from the situation (mentally, physically, or, ideally, both) for a brief pause to regain a sense of control. Examples include taking a break for a few minutes to practice some deep-breathing exercises (focusing on the moment and your breathing as you become aware of the inhalation and exhalation process) or practicing guided imagery (imagining and focusing on soothing or comforting images) for a few minutes. If possible, you can also take a few minutes to go outdoors for a short walk or to do breathing exercises.

However, the best solution can be to practice effective relaxation and stress-control techniques on a regular basis. Over the long-term, effective stress management and relaxation techniques may help you avoid these types of feelings and provide you with the skills needed to control stress before it builds up to this level.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care