Sitting with Sadness

There is always so much talk about how to be happy and how to keep ourselves from feeling sad. But why aren’t we taught how to be sad? Sadness is just as an important of an emotion as happiness is. We are meant to feel sad sometimes; that’s why we have that emotion. As long as our sadness isn’t consuming us, it might benefit our lives to learn to sit with our sadness.

Here are some things to remember to help you sit with sadness:

1.    It’s okay to cry!
Crying is good for you! Research shows that 85% of women and 73% of men felt better after crying. Crying helps relieve stress, it lowers your blood pressure and tears remove toxins from your body.

2.    Breathing and meditation can help.
If you feel out of control, remember to breathe deep, long breaths.

3.    All emotions are temporary, and you won’t feel like this forever.
See Note at end of post.

4.    You can take a break and come back to your thoughts later.
If you feel overwhelmed, switch activities, then revisit your feelings of sadness once you feel more ready to do so.

Sometimes I put a time limit on how long I choose to be sad. Depending on what kind of mental space I am in and the situation, I gauge how much sadness is healthy for me. I will say to myself “okay I am going to spend 20, 30, 40, minutes (or the day) being sad about this, and then I need to move on.”

In the time I set aside, I really try to feel everything that I am going through. Here are some of the questions I ask myself to stay on track.

  • Why do I feel sad today?
  • Where in my body do I feel this emotion? (Chest, Throat, Stomach)
  • What do I need? (a hug, a hot shower, someone to talk to)
  • Who can I trust to talk to about my sadness?

If I need more time than what I allotted to process my emotions, or if this process becomes too overwhelming, I take a break and go back to it later.

When you take a break it is important to do something nice for yourself. I like to call a friend, take a hot shower, go for a walk or watch Jimmy Fallon on YouTube! – He always seems to brighten my day a little.

Here’s the good news: being sad means you’re human - and a brave one at that! Sadness is an underappreciated emotion, it can teach us a lot about ourselves, but we have to be able to risk feeling pain for a while. If you can take that risk you are allowing yourself to have the most authentic and honest experience as yourself—and that, my friend, is brave! 

Note: Sadness (the temporary emotion) is not to be confused with depression (the mood disorder). If you feel you may be depressed, please seek medical advice from a psychiatrist.

Related Reading

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