After reading a colleagues highly motivating post yesterday, her comments about struggling with her blog after Google moved the goal posts struck me and posed this question.

How often do life-events cause us to have an emotional meltdown?

I had one yesterday; not a big one in the scheme of things but it did affect the following couple of hours and my performance was not at its best while the fallout settled and I applied my range of mindfulness tools to sort it out.


There is no doubt that we live in a potentially stressful and overstimulating world and it has become more so in recent years. Our senses are assaulted by so much information compared to say, twenty years ago that sometimes the only response is to suffer information overload, go into a meltdown, close the doors and hide in distractions. That of course isn’t going to solve anything, and it has ripple effects on ourselves, relationships, work, potentially everything.

What Does it Look Like?

  • Crying
  • Avoiding and Ignoring the events surrounding the meltdown by running away
  • Snapping at others or lashing out
  • Panic
  • Hopelessness


  • Work suffers
  • Relationships suffer
  • Self-esteem takes a negative hit
  • We quit

All is Not Lost

Recovery from a stressful meltdown is entirely possible; in fact, meltdowns can be avoided so long as we are willing to learn how to manage the stressors in our lives that threaten to push us over the edge into the abyss of despair.

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away . . .”

If you read my post about the challenging events of last Friday, you will have seen a stressful event in action. I came through and managed it with minimal stress. Until yesterday when the lack of transparency from an insurance company caused a meltdown. Added to that, I discovered during the insurance challenges that my friend is going to miss the birth of his son because he will still be in hospital.

Boom! Nuclear reaction – an entirely human thing.

While the detail of that meltdown is unique to me, certain situations raise the possibility of negative reactions in most people.

Are You Hungry?

I know I was when the first event struck yesterday. I’d had a couple of coffees but no food. Even in a healthy person, going too long between meals causes blood sugar levels to drop and while the effects of that are potentially many, one of them is reduced ability to deal with stressful situations.

Not Enough Sleep

Wednesday night was an extremely late night and I still got up to work early on Thursday. This affected my ability to manage the stress of the situations that followed. Normally I sleep well but imagine how much worse the situation may have been if I rarely sleep well.

Taking on Too Much

This doesn’t go without saying because many of us take on too much when we want to please people that matter or achieve our goals. A recipe that leads to overwhelm and meltdown.

Life Changes

Here’s a list of researched life changing issues known to elevate stress:

  • Marital separation
  • Death of a close family member
  • Personal injury or illness
  • Marriage
  • Dismissal from work
  • Retirement
  • Google et al. moving the goal posts

Any of these and more can lead to emotional vulnerability. OK, the last one wasn’t in the research, but it matters.

Festering Wounds

If we allow stresses to build up such as not managing our relationships or challenging business events as they arise, they become increasingly difficult to manage. Often to the point of no or at best highly challenging return to normality.

Managing Meltdowns

Nuclear meltdowns involve heat and there is a vital need for coolant systems to keep conditions in check. The same is true for human meltdowns and cooling things before they become too stressful is essential to our well-being and success.

The next time you start feeling stressed:

  • Pay attention to how you feel and take steps to calm yourself
  • Take a deep breath in through the nose (5-seconds), hold the breath (5-secs), release the breath through the mouth (5-secs) and repeat until your mind calms. This won’t fix the situation, but it will enable you to approach it with a sense of calm.
  • Considering changing your environment for a few minutes and if necessary, make polite excuses for doing so.
  • Don’t return to the situation until you feel calmer. Most problems don’t need to be solved in an instant. Take the time to absorb and calm your mind.


Most of us may wish to forget our meltdowns and the fallout they can produce but they can also be positive learning experiences if we allow it. Google changes hit my colleagues blog last June but there was nothing she could do about it other than find a new way to keep driving forward. An insurance company with a lack of transparency hit me yesterday. I’ve fired that company and found another and that simple action will hopefully avoid future stress.

This is a huge subject and I have skipped across the surface. I hope this brief excursion has caused a few positive ripples

We’ve all been in challenging situations where the ground seems to disappear and leave us floating in difficult places. It’s natural, it’s called being human. If you need help with these or any other aspects of your personal development, reach out by leaving your contact details in the comments below. Nobody will see your contact details and they will never be shared.

“Let us learn to let go, to not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the circumstances and conditions of this world. Let us constantly remember that at the heart of ourselves, as at the heart of all human beings, there forever stands a silent and watchful guardian: the Master Within.” (Christian Bernard)

Comments and Questions

Please leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in other readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.

I wish you a wonderful and successful day.

Peace & Light

Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.


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