Sometimes you have days when you are sad, and then there are days when you feel really, really sad.
Sadness comes and goes for me like the ocean flowing over the rocks lining the coast, but for most of my teen years, it was a pretty central and common feeling I didn’t know how to handle. Back then, I thought being sad and feeling any type of negative emotion was a sign of great weakness.
So, I brushed sadness under the rug, suppressed it, and let it fester for years thus making it worse. When more sad days came, I felt immobilized and unsure of how to climb out of the dark holes I would fall into.
However, at the beginning of this year I decided that enough was enough and instead of avoiding or suppressing my feelings, I worked to express and feel them for what they were. Sadness, anger, frustration, and whatever other negative emotion you can think of are not inherently bad, and it’s perfectly normal to feel these emotions. Besides, some sadness and hurt must exist so that we may appreciate peace and happiness in the moments that they come to warm our souls again.
Over the course of this year, I’ve been collecting some habits to help me deal with the sadness when it comes in a healthy manner and instead of turning to old habits and thought patterns that hurt me (suppressing, avoiding, throwing myself obsessively into work, etc.) and today, I would like to share them with you.
So, without further ado, here are eight things I do on days I feel really really sad, because sadness is normal so let’s stop pretending that it isn’t.
1: Be Present
An anxiety coping technique I use a lot urges the user to find four things in their environment, one they can see, one they can taste, one they can touch, and one they can hear. The purpose of this exercise is to take the user’s attention away from the anxiety flooding them and redirect it to the present moment.
I’ve been using it for years and it has saved me from a lot of panic attacks or has pulled me out of one, and I take this same principle to sadness. Sadness can stem from anything or nothing at all, but for me, I find that when I am sad I tend to either be living in the past or the future, but never the present.
Another way you can practice present mindfulness is to focus on the thing(s) you are doing right in the moment. Focus on nothing else but what you are doing. For me, that looks like no music playing as I write this post, honing in on the sound the keyboard makes as I press each letter, tracking each word as it flies across the page, and giving this moment my full and undivided attention.
Honor your present, for our reality is not the past or the future but rather the here and the now.
2: Go Outside
This probably is one of my favorite things to do because sometimes you just need to sit in the sun and bask in the stillness of nature around you. You may not want to at first, but there is just something about being out in nature that is so soothing to my soul when I’m feeling stuck in my emotions. Some action is better than no action, so go outside, feel the gentle breeze across your skin, explore, breathe deeply, and get some much needed Vitamin D. because did you know studies have shown that it’s effective in boosting one’s mood?
Journaling has been my go-to as I often walk away from sessions feeling lighter, my mind clearer, and my heart ready to emerge from the darkness it had been shrouded in and re-engage with life. If you are not the journaling type, grab a notebook and write down five things you are grateful for in this moment, what you are looking forward to in the future, free write what’s been on your mind for 20 minutes without stopping, write a letter to your future or past self, and or try your hand at writing five things that are most important to you and figure out how you can make those things (or actions) appear more in your life.
The key here is to get your thoughts out on paper and create a more calming environment inside your head.
4: Treat Yourself
Sometimes, you just need to treat yourself. If I’ve been restricting myself from simple pleasures such as a warm cookie or a fudgy ice cream bar, I’ll indulge and if I’ve been indulging too much, I do something different like move my body through a workout, do a full night routine instead of the bare minimum, do a lymphatic massage, and so on.
Treating yourself doesn’t have to be just food related. It can be anything you want it to be or what feels good to your body in that present moment. Nourish and cherish yourself and honor your God-given body with kind words instead of mean ones.
5: Stop Fighting It and Practice Acceptance
Instead of fighting the feelings you are harboring, relax into it. Again, like we talked about, sadness is normal and not something to beat yourself up over. It’s a normal phase of life and the more pressure you put on yourself to snap out of it, the worse you feel about yourself and the situation. So, don’t go looking for peace, for a fix, and feel the need to find a way out immediately. Sit with yourself here, sit with your feelings, and all the other things roaring about in your mind. Surrender to and accept what is happening, focus on what is important, and let go of everything that ceases to serve you here.
6: Do The Things You’ve Been Putting Off
LIfe is short, so on days when you are sad it is the perfect time to catch up on the things you’ve been meaning to do. Read that book you’ve been waiting to get to, watch that movie you’ve been eyeing for a while, go to that place that you’ve been meaning to check out, visit that restaurant you’ve been meaning to swing by, try that new recipe that you saw on Pinterest but never got around to, and make a day out of it. I don’t know what it is, but I find that being able to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while does wonder for my mental health. The satisfaction of being able to finally do it is louder than the sadness I may be feeling.
What have you been meaning to do?
7: Spend Quality Time With People You Love
You’re not alone even if your head is telling you otherwise. It’s okay to reach out for help or to just spend time with someone you love, and if you aren’t feeling to up to socializing, know that you can be that person for yourself too.
It doesn’t matter what this looks like for you as long as it’s quality time with phones and TV off so that you can express yourself and the other person can do that same. Examples of what you can do to spend quality time with someone can be as simple as a car ride, playing a board game, trying your hand at trivia with your bestie, cooking with or for your family. If you want to just be with yourself, sit in silence for five minutes, watch that show you’ve been waiting to watch for a while, pick up a book, read your Bible, and do something that brings you joy.
8: Remember It’s All Temporary
There is a song I’ve been loving by Before You Exit called, Solar Eclipse and the lyrics go something like this:
Waist deep in mental medication
Always feel like you don’t belong here
Sunlight was bleeding through your window
Turned into rain
Don’t think it’s forever
This pain won’t last forever
It’s only a solar eclipse, love
Sun is coming back again
This is not as good as it gets, love
This life won’t last forever
The sun is coming back again.
This song has been so healing for me and a wonderful illustration of sadness. It’s momentary, a solar eclipse that will pass, and while you may be plunged into darkness right now, all solar eclipses must come to an end…and so will your sadness.
Our lives are fleeting and our days have been numbered by the Creator since before inception so why not use the time we’ve been allotted to treat ourselves with kindness and understanding while we are here? Lift up others and use your days to the best of your ability to bring glory to the kingdom.
I asked my followers on Instagram what they do to get through sad days and here’s what they said:
- Prayer time
- Going on a long walks
- Listening to music while breathing deeply
- Watching a funny movie
- Eating their favorite comfort food (chicken noodle soup anyone?)
How do you like to work through sad days? Leave a comment and let me know!!