Have you freaked out and/or lost the plot over something recently? Was it big or small? (No judgment, I promise.) How would you like a list of allowable ways to freak out instead of being told to “Calm down!” for a change?
I’ve been thinking about the rollercoaster we all find ourselves on and the funny thing is, no matter how well off you are in terms of your circumstances, this global lockdown thing is still unbelievably stressful!
Even without it, homeschooling families are not immune to stressful times, meltdowns, freak out sessions and everything that goes with that. This obviously also applies even more so to homeschooling families who have children with special needs. There’s a part of this that’s normal.
I don’t think it’s helpful to hear “calm down” when you feel like your life is falling apart, or when you’ve been stripped of so many little things that made life feel familiar, normal and secure to you. I’ve also figured out that I can find peace faster if I’ve let off the steam somehow (preferably without yelling at anyone, but hey, I’m also human).
Here’s a list of ways to freak out that can help you get rid of all the anxious energy clogging up your mind, emotions and body.
27 Ways You’re Allowed to Freak Out
- Cry. Even if you’re the type who hates crying. It’s going to happen eventually, so just let it.
- Scream (preferably alone, like in your car or the basement, somewhere where you won’t freak someone else out).
- Punch something (like a pillow or a punching bag of course)
- Rant in a private journal and then burn it. Or do the Wreck This Journal Project (you’ll find samples on YouTube).
- Jump really hard (like toddlers do!)
- Go through your crockery cupboard and collect everything that doesn’t match what you normally use. All the mugs, plates, bowls that are lone leftovers from old sets. Now THROW them at the wall and then clean it up. Think Greek party without the music.
- Make and throw water balloons.
- Slam some cupboard doors (without breaking them, and again, rather do this alone).
- Get some nails, a plank, and a hammer. Have at it without breaking your fingers, okay?
- Chop wood (one of the oldest and most therapeutic chores known to mankind).
- Do a tough workout (within safe boundaries, I don’t want you giving yourself a heart attack). Any of the workouts on MadFit should get you breathless enough.
- Run sprints.
- Rip out the old flooring in a room you’ve been meaning to re-floor for ages.
- Repaint your room (just make sure you were reasonably calm when you chose the paint colours, okay?)
- Break something old apart and make something new (think furniture).
- Do some deep cleaning, especially scrubbing, mopping and vacuuming.
- Fix broken stuff around the house and yard.
- Sort your Tupperware cupboard.
- Rip paper (not your bills or important documents).
- Have a pillow fight (safely).
- Dig a big hole and then fill it up again. You might have to come up with a plausible, non-criminal explanation to pull this one off if you live with family, though.
- Rearrange your furniture. A change is as good as a holiday, they say. (I don’t believe them, but hey, suit yourself.)
- Play an intense Beethoven piece on the piano or loudly on your stereo and enjoy it. He has some very satisfying, booming pieces. If Beethoven is not your thing, try a rock song or whatever makes you happy.
- Cook up a storm and fill up your freezer.
- Bake a load of cupcakes and then share them so you’re not stuck eating the entire stash.
- Go take a long walk.
- Phone one of your sports buddies and go play an aggressive game of tennis, squash, badminton, pool, basketball, or whatever works for you. In quarantine, this may look more like playing a similar computer or XBox game.
You’ll notice that most of the items on this list are quite physically intense. This is good.
Physical activity wears you out and helps you spend some of that pent-up energy, lowering cortisol levels, high blood pressure, and stress level. This will help you detach from whatever made you freak out so that you can come back to it later and make rational decisions on what to do next.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and this advice is not intended to cure or treat any condition. Please be careful, take care of yourself and get professional medical help where necessary.
What to do after you’ve freaked out
Now that you’re all done wearing yourself out, let’s get into the calmer side of things. How are you going to calm down?
Well, for starters, have some water because you’re probably dehydrated now.
Then, eat a good meal. It doesn’t have to be vegan. Just protein, a veggie or two, some fiber and a salad, okay? Yes, carbs too.
You’re making good progress now.
Have a cup of tea or coffee and don’t let your mind go back into the hamster wheel or you’ll have to redo the whole process.
Here’s the best part: TAKE A NAP. Yes, because adulting is like the new toddlerhood. You need to parent yourself.
There’s nothing like a good nap after a meltdown. Take a headache tablet if you need to.
Once you get up, you need to go clean up any mess you left while freaking out. Apologize if you must. Take some time to think about what you need to do next, depending on what it was that freaked you out.
Sometimes, the answer is NOTHING. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to phone a friend to help you talk and think through a situation.
Sometimes, you need to ask for help. Swallow your pride and ego and just do it. There are people who would love to make things a little easier for you if you would only find the courage to ask.
You could also go read this super-helpful post on how to manage anxiety naturally, full of multi-sensory tips and ideas.
What NOT to do during/after a freakout:
Pretty much anything addictive and destructive.
Don’t abuse others.
Don’t take your stress out on others. If you do, talk it out and find a way to do better.
Don’t hate yourself and beat yourself up. You’re human. Forgive yourself and move on. Address your needs, rather than focusing on your mistakes.
Lastly, take a deep breath and carry on. Explain to your children that you are having a tough time, you’re stressed and that you’re working on making it better. Apologise if you’ve scared them, and ask them if they have anything on their minds as well.
If your child was the one who freaked out/needs to freak out, use the above list of suggestions to give them constructive options to deal with it. You will be better off trying to have a conversation after they’ve freaked out, rather than during the freakout. And allowing a reasonable freakout will create room in your child’s brain to cooperate with creative problem-solving.
Everyone needs room to admit to stress, anxiety, worry, fear, frustration, disappointment, anger and all the other feelings that come with stressful situations, intense change, illness, loss, etc.
For more coping tips, check out this post, specially written for parents.
Validation and empathy are the most effective tools because once everyone involved feels heard and understood, it becomes much easier to support each other.
How are you coping lately? Are you freaking out? Are your children freaking out? You’re not alone. Share your random freakouts in the comments below and let’s support each other. Laughs welcome!