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It can come out of nowhere with no rhythm or reason, or it can follow a traumatic breakup, the loss of a special someone, or another particularly difficult time. It can roll in slowly, like dark clouds before a storm, or it can hit you suddenly without warning. Whatever form it takes, grief is something we all experience – but moving on can still be incredibly difficult.
How To Stop Feeling Sad For No Reason
Learn to stop suffering. While some tried-and-true techniques require digging deep, other ways to beat the blues are incredibly simple, like spending more time outdoors, watching a show that’s practically guaranteed to make you laugh and, yes, cry your eyes out. (No, spending all day on the couch with a glass of stout monkey in one hand and your favorite glass of red in the other is unfortunately not a scientifically proven way to beat sadness.) It’s worth noting that two weeks later, you’re still nervous AND the energy is low. If you notice other symptoms such as loss of concentration, difficulty concentrating, or sleep problems, you should seek professional help.
What Does Depression Feel Like?
Ahead, psychologists and mental health experts share their best tips for how to stop feeling sad, regardless of your triggers.
When something negative happens in your life, it can seem like your world is coming to an end. But instead of suppressing or denying your feelings—by distracting yourself or putting on a good front—you should actually embrace them. Psy.D. Dr. “All emotions are essential to survival and contain valuable information about our lives,” says Lori Rockmore. In fact, a study was published in 2017
“Individuals who accept rather than judge their psychological experiences may experience better psychological health because acceptance helps them experience fewer negative emotions in response to stress,” he concluded.
Instead of beating yourself up over depression, see it as an opportunity to learn, grow and find true healing, says Briana Borten, CEO of Dragontree Wellness.
Living With Sadness: How Does Sadness Differ From Depression?
Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why you’re upset—say, you can’t get over your ex, you bombed a big job presentation, or you had a big argument with your partner. But other times you may feel sad for no reason. When this happens, grab a pen and a piece of paper and “write without stopping for five minutes or so,” suggests life coach Sunny Joy McMillan. Not only will you discover what naturally causes your sadness, but the mere act of writing will help you feel better, and this is supported by many studies. Alternatively, you could try journaling, taking a yoga class, or meditating—all are great ways to focus on your inner self.
As we mentioned earlier, when you avoid grief completely, you are actually doing more harm than good. “You can’t heal what you don’t feel,” says life coach and author Nancy Levine.
Although it’s uncomfortable, acknowledging and accepting your grief is the first step to truly feeling better. Tibetan Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron told Oprah on an episode of Super Soul Sunday: “Instead of running away or eating something or drinking something or yelling at someone, breathe. “No matter how bad it feels, you give. more space. Breathing opens you up to it.”
Alternatively, you can try “slumping”, which is something Levi does when he’s sad. “I put on music or movies or shows that help me cry and release,” she said. (Need some recommendations? In our experience, Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” or Coldplay’s “Fix You” are both good choices for a cathartic soundtrack.)
How To Stop Feeling Sad: A Complete Guide To Get The Joy Back
It may seem counterintuitive, but Levine is actually on to something. Psychologist and self-help author Dr. “Only people cry emotionally,” says Matt Bellus. Not to be too scientific, Bellus says that biochemical analysis of tears shows that the drops contain leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin known to reduce pain and improve mood. According to a study published in Plus,
Associated with the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system – which stimulates the relaxation response – it can have a self-soothing effect on people. Equally important: The same study found that “those who cry often report feeling better if they are comforted by others,” so expressing this in front of a close friend or family member can be helpful.
After you ugly cry until your eyes burn, it’s time to take it all in. This can take days, weeks or months. “Grief doesn’t live in time,” says Levin. But you can’t stay in a dark hole forever. Here’s how to crawl:
To make sure you don’t go from zero to 100 and back to zero again, “lay the foundation for success by starting in the smallest possible increments,” suggests McMillan. Start with something simple (like brushing your teeth or washing your face) and then continue to take small, incremental steps (like making coffee or putting on clean, comfortable clothes). “Once you get moving, you might be surprised how motivated you are to do more,” she says.
Your Coronavirus Situation
Think of it as the antithesis of a meltdown: Instead of hugging a crying child, read an uplifting song, put on some happy tunes, or watch a few feel-good movies, suggests McMillan. Alternatively, take up an activity or hobby you really enjoy, such as volunteering, working on a challenging puzzle, or tending to your lush gardens.
Better? Doing something that makes you laugh (think: listening to a comedy podcast or even watching a cat video on YouTube). “Laughter can be a wonderful coping mechanism in response to pain and sadness,” says Bellus, “Laughter releases exercise-like endorphins, reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and increases dopamine.” Of course, the grieving process takes time. It’s embarrassing not wanting to laugh for a while,” the Bellas confirm.
Having a support network is important, especially if you’re having a rough time—so consider this permission to invite your girlfriends over for more wine and cheese (yes, virtual happy hours count, too).
Need help expanding your social circle? “Do things outside the home that engage other people,” says Borten. For example, choose something you share an interest in, such as a book club. “You’d be surprised how quickly a community is built.” While it’s nice to have friends IRL, even an online community can offer kindness and responsibility. Try searching Facebook for groups that may offer support – such as a bereavement/grief support group, or search interest groups to find like-minded people with a common passion (travel? cooking? even knitting!). “Make sure the group is a fun place to connect with people who share a common goal,” says Borten.
Emotional Regulation Tips For Anyone Who’s Struggling Right Now
Let’s say you say you’ll never find love again after a breakup. Or maybe you got some not-so-glowing feedback from your boss at work, so now you’re convinced you’ll never get promoted and have chosen the wrong career entirely.
Then it’s time to change your story. Therapists call this technique cognitive restructuring, in which you identify and challenge troubling and irrational thoughts. One way to do this: to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, McMillan says, instead of telling yourself, “I’m going to be alone forever,” try telling yourself, “I’m going to find love again.” (Or is it “I
Find love again, ” even better!) You will feel more relaxed and less sad, and you will finally believe it.
Rockmore recommends experiencing the outdoors with all five of your senses, which he calls “behavioral activation.” Pay attention to what you see, feel, hear, smell, and sometimes taste in nature and it will help you overcome your depression. “Getting out of hibernation and being active stimulates the nervous system and allows people to see the beauty of the world,” says Rockmore.
Are You Feeling Suicidal?
One reason spending time outdoors can reduce stress and lower blood pressure, as well as increase creativity and cognition. Don’t have time to walk 6 miles? According to a 2019 study, spending 120 minutes a week (or more than 17 minutes a day) exploring your local park or walking around your neighborhood can significantly improve your overall sense of well-being.
If your sadness goes beyond the blues—if your sleeping and eating habits change, if you’re not interested in activities you used to enjoy, if you have trouble concentrating or making decisions—it’s not just boredom. Self-help books are a good tool (Rockmore’s The Happiness Trap and
If you are thinking about harming yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the crisis text line at 741-741.
Sarah is a freelance writer
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