I have a mental checklist for emotional distress. Because I am THAT kind of nerd. But also because I often have a hard time staying in contact with my emotions and feelings (like, literally I can make physical pain go away if I’m focused on something). In order to keep myself from having some kind of breakdown, I had to come up with a relatively simple tool to follow when I’m drained and not feeling human. This usually brings me back.
The other side of this list is that people looooove to give you advice. Very personal advice. Very personal advice that doesn’t take your needs, habits, and abilities into account. They’re great about shoving that advice helpfully down your throat–at the absolute last point in time when you need it, when you don’t have the brain cells to sort out what’s bullshit for you and what might work, and what is really meant for the day after you’re about to have a meltdown, not in the middle of the meltdown itself.
This is also a list that helps me know what not to do.
So: here are ten things to try in order and a zeroth thing that you can do if and when it’s available. Please adapt to your own use, and keep in mind that I’m not a lawyer, medical doctor, or therapist. If you are having a medical or mental emergency, you might want to run straight to a professional or at least call one.
How to start being human again:
0. Get a hug/reassurance that you’re okay if you can; pets count.
1. Drink something (not alcohol).
2. Eat something.
3. Take any meds you need, including caffeine and other addictions.
4. Get some rest. Sleep, ten deep breaths, meditate, whatever.
5. Do all your personal hygiene tasks: bathe, brush teeth, clean clothes, do hair/makeup, clip/clean nails, etc.
6. Move your body, exercise if possible.
7. Step away from the shit that’s making you crazy; if possible, communicate with those you trust.
8. Get some sunlight, if possible.
9. Do a quick cleanup of your area (from order of most to least disgusting).
10. Do a mental energy recharge, depending on your personality: read, socialize, play music, listen to music, reconnect with your spiritual practice, do something sexy, etc. IDENTIFY SOME OPTIONS AHEAD OF TIME; if you are in a bad way, nothing will sound good.
It is usually a really bad idea to drink alcohol and skip to #10. In fact, it’s usually a bad idea to skip to #10 regardless. #1-9 are to patch the holes in your soul; #10 is for refilling your energy. Refilling your energy without patching the holes makes you distrust the things that should be making you feel better.
This list won’t fix anything deep or serious; it won’t save a relationship; it won’t make you categorically less lonely; it won’t do the work that actually needs to be done; it won’t replace a doctor or therapist visit; it won’t make you a better person. It’s just there to give you some mental space to figure out what to do next.