This exercise, inspired by Somatic Experiencing therapy, helps you move past the impulse to collapse–by embracing and mindfully examining it.

Who can this collapse exercise help, and how?

This exercise (and printable worksheet) is good for people who have experienced:

  • Depression
  • Overwhelm
  • Trauma
  • Heartbreak
  • Abuse
  • Dissociation or zoning out
  • Self-hatred
  • Feeling broken

Need motivation?

“I had been telling myself, ‘Something is wrong with you, you need to snap out of it and get up! You have stuff to do!! What is wrong?’ In other words, I was pushing against the stillness and trying to change it. And the stillness wouldn’t budge. It just pushed right back. What would happen if instead of trying to change it, I did the opposite? What if I tried to get myself to be even more still? Well, it worked.” – Heidi Hanson

“When you enter the freeze response, you appear still and unmoving but your internal experience is far from still; the exterior stillness masks a state of internal chaos. The unconscious mind, nervous system and body in general are being flooded with too much information and become overwhelmed.” – Heidi Hanson

“‘The shutting down, collapsing response in trauma is associated with high vagal activity,’ says Peter, referring to the vagus nerve that connects the brainstem with the heart.” – Peter Levine, quoted in Psychotherapy Networker

“Typically, depression as it relates to C-PTSD is connected to a lingering feeling of collapse in the body in response to feeling immobilized, helpless, or ashamed.” – Arielle Schwartz, PhD

“This happens to me too. It’s called ‘collapse state’ in the modality of Somatic Experiencing. It is real and necessary part of the work and managing the trauma that comes with it.” – Jennifer Hofmann

“Many gifted and sensitive people suffer from unrecognized cPTSD, moving between anxiety or overactivity and shutdown, collapse, or despair, often some form of addiction to try to manage stress, and falling into thoughts of guilt, blame, shame, self-reproach or self-defeat.” – Kate Arms

Related worksheets