What To Do When Your Sad For No Reason

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It can come out of nowhere, with no rhyme or reason, or it can come after a devastating breakup, bereavement, or other traumatic event. It can creep in slowly, like dark clouds before a storm, or it can strike suddenly without warning. Either way, grief is something we all experience, but it can still be difficult to overcome.

What To Do When Your Sad For No Reason

Learn how to stop feeling sad. While some proven methods require you to dig deep, other ways to beat the blues are pretty simple, like spending more time outside, watching shows that actually make you laugh, and yes, crying. (No, spending the day on the couch with a pint of Monkey Monkey in one hand and a glass of your favorite red in the other is unfortunately not a scientifically proven way to relieve grief.) Note: If you’re still upset two weeks later and have other symptoms (such as loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, or difficulty sleeping) you should seek professional help.

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Ahead, psychologists and mental health experts share their best tips on how to stop grieving, regardless of the trigger.

When something negative happens in your life, it can feel like your world is coming to an end. But instead of suppressing or ignoring your emotions—either by distracting them or keeping them well—you need to truly embrace them. “All emotions are important for us to have valuable information about our lives,” says Dr. Lori Rockmore, Psy.D. In fact, a study published in 2017

“Individuals who accept rather than judge their mental experiences may achieve better psychological health because acceptance helps them reduce negative emotions in response to stress,” it concluded.

Says Briana Borten, CEO of Dragontree Health.

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Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint why you’re upset, say if you can’t get over your ex, bombed your big job presentation, or had a big fight with your partner. But at other times, you may feel sad for no reason. If so, grab a pen and paper and “write nonstop for five minutes or so,” advises life coach Sunny Joy McMillan. Not only will you naturally discover what’s causing your sadness, but the mere act of writing can help you feel better, which is supported by numerous studies. Alternatively, you can try journaling, taking a yoga class, or meditating—all are great ways to focus on yourself.

As mentioned above, avoiding grief altogether can actually do more harm than good. “You can’t heal what you don’t feel,” says life coach and author Nancy Levin.

Acknowledging and accepting your pain, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, is the first step to feeling better. “Instead of running away or eating something or drinking something or yelling at someone, just breathe,” Tibetan Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron told Oprah on the Super Soul Sunday episode. “No matter how bad it feels, you’re giving it more space. When you breathe, you open it up.”

Or you can try the “crash” that Levine does when he’s sad. “I play music, or I play movies or shows, and I know they’re going to make me cry and let go,” he says. (Need some suggestions? In our experience, Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” or Coldplay’s “Fix You” are great choices for catarrhal crying.)

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It may seem counterintuitive, but Levine likes something. “Only people cry emotionally,” says Dr. Matt Bellas, PhD, is a psychologist and self-help author. And not too scientifically, Bellas says, biochemical analysis of the tears revealed that the drops contain an endorphin called leucine-enkephalin, which reduces pain and improves mood. In addition, according to published research

Associated with activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, it stimulates the relaxation response, meaning it can have a self-soothing effect on humans. Equally important: The same study found that “crying people report feeling better when they receive comfort from others,” so expressing this in front of close friends or family members can be helpful.

After your eyes burn and you’ve cried so hard, it’s time to master something. This may take days, weeks or months. “Grief doesn’t last forever,” Levin said. But you can’t stay in a dark hole forever. Here’s how to crawl:

To ensure you don’t go from zero to 100 and back to zero again, “build the foundation for success by starting with the smallest possible steps,” advises McMillan. Start with something simple (such as brushing your teeth or washing your face), then progress to small, gradual steps (such as making coffee or putting on clean, comfortable workout clothes). “Once you get moving, you’ll be surprised how motivated you are to do more,” she says.

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Think of it as the opposite of a meltdown: Instead of crying and hugging your tears, choose uplifting reading, play upbeat songs, or watch fun movies, McMillan says. Or, you can do something you really enjoy, whether it’s volunteering, solving puzzles, or tending to your lush garden.

Is it even better? Do something that makes you laugh (think: listen to a comedy podcast, or even watch cat videos on YouTube). “Laughter can be a great coping mechanism in response to pain and grief,” says Belleis, “Laughter releases endorphins similar to exercise, reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and increases dopamine (the ‘feel-good hormone’).” Of course, the grieving process takes time, “so it doesn’t hurt to not want to laugh for a while,” Bellas assured.

Having a support network is important, especially if you’re going through a tough time, so consider this permission to invite your girlfriend over for more wine and cheese (yes, virtual happy hour is important too).

Need help expanding your social circle? “Do things outside the house that involve other people,” says Borten. For example, choose something that interests you, such as a book club. — You’ll be surprised how quickly a community is formed. While it’s nice to have friends IRL, even online communities can offer compassion and accountability. Look for groups on Facebook where you can provide support, such as a bereavement support group. Or, look for interest-based groups (“cooking trips? even knitting!) to find like-minded people who can cheer you up with your travels. Just make sure the online group is a loving, engaging place. thing,” Borten said.

Feeling Nostalgic About The Past, Sad Memory Effects

After a breakup, you keep saying that you can’t find love again. Or maybe you got a not-so-good review from your boss at work, so you’re sure you’ll never get promoted, and you may have chosen the wrong career altogether.

That’s when it’s time to change your narrative. Therapists call this technique cognitive restructuring, and it’s the process of identifying and challenging your depressive and irrational thoughts. One way to do this: simply turn negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, McMillan says, instead of saying, “I’ll be alone forever,” try saying, “I’ll find love again.” (Or “I

Find love again, “good!) You will feel more peace and less sadness, and finally you will believe.

Rockmore recommends experiencing the outdoors with your five senses, which she calls “behavioral activation.” Pay attention to what you see, feel, hear, smell, and maybe taste in nature to help you recover from the crash. “Getting out of hibernation and being active stimulates the nervous system and allows people to see the beauty of the world,” says Rockmore.

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It’s also part of the reason that spending time outdoors reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and boosts 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 grief goes beyond sadness—if your sleeping and eating habits change, you lose interest in activities you used to enjoy, and you have trouble concentrating or making decisions—it may mean more than just anxiety. And while self-help books are good tools (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 741-741, Crisis Text Line.

Sarah is a freelance writer

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