We all feel down sometimes and if you’ve been through losses you are bound to be sad. Sadness can be a natural reaction, but nobody wants to stay in a bad place for too long. If you’re stuck and miserable you may feel powerless, but you aren’t. There are things you can do to brighten your landscape.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SADNESS AND DEPRESSION
Depression is a word we often hear nowadays, and if you’re down people may label you ‘depressed.’ You may even describe yourself that way. But sadness is a natural reaction to loss and difficult life circumstances, whereas depression, particularly when it’s severe, is a medical condition.
If you are sad, then your feelings are natural, and healthy. When you are sad you are in touch with your emotions, which is much better than repression. Sadness does not need to be treated with medication. It needs gentle understanding and some common sense. Always remember that after rain the sun always eventually shines again – it’s the same with sadness. So have faith – your recovery from sadness will come naturally.
STEP ONE – ACCEPT SADNESS
When you feel bad it’s understandable that you want to get better as quickly as possible. You could be fighting your sadness, maybe by trying to pretend you don’t feel it. Perhaps you’re trying hard to cheer yourself up, doing lots of things that used to work for you in the past, but now seem empty.
If you’re doing that, you’re only reinforcing the sensation. Every time you make the effort to be happy and don’t succeed, you feel emptier and more despairing. This is because when you throw yourself into situations you used to enjoy and fail to get that happy reaction, it rubs in that things are far from how you want them to be.
So stop trying so hard. Sit quietly and welcome sadness. Let the emotion flow over you. Cry as much as you want to. Think of your sadness as something that needs befriending. We all change for the better when we are accepted and appreciated.
STEP TWO - BE IN THE ‘NOW’
Mindfulness is recognised as a very healthy activity. It’s a type of meditation, and you’ll find there are plenty of classes and groups you can go to, to be ‘mindful’ together. But mindfulness isn’t something you only do once a week. Ideally, it’s a way of being, that you do all the time.
This can be hard at first, but gradually it will get easier. Practice living more in the moment. Set aside a regular five or ten minutes a day for this. When you find your mind spinning out into ‘what ifs’ or thinking about past mistakes and mishaps, consciously bring yourself back to now. Relax and focus for a few minutes on what you can see, feel, smell and hear now. Notice your emotions too – experience them but realise although you have them, they are not the real you. In these moments of mindfulness you will begin to experience stillness and peace, leading to joy.
STEP FOUR – BELIEVE IN BETTER
Whatever happens you must try never to give up. However you feel at this moment, even if you can see no way out or no way your feelings will ever alter, things will change! There is a Chinese saying ‘Change is the only constant.’ Some time in the future – and it may not be so very far off – you could feel completely different. The more open you are to believing this the quicker it will come about.
Dreaming about the way you would like life to be can help you. Focus your daydreams so you visualise exactly how you want things to be and tell the Universe this is what you expect, thank you very much! Obviously if someone you love has died your visualisations cannot bring them back, but you can feel that happiness and closeness again, in another circumstance. The one you love would want that, so don’t let guilt stop you from moving on.
So dream about the possible – never mind if it’s improbable – and cast your imagination forwards into a better future.
STEP FIVE – BE GRATEFUL
Being told to be grateful may sound like a rebuke, but that’s not the sort of ‘gratitude’ you should feel. Gratitude is not indebtedness, or a recognition that you’ve taken more than you should, or guilt at having more than others. Gratitude is the wonderful glow you feel when you see that in fact you’re blessed, and your heart just opens with that thankfulness.
Gratitude can begin very small – being grateful for a flower, tea and toast, a TV programme – and can then extend to bigger things. Practice being grateful for a few minutes a day – maybe just after your mindfulness – and list half a dozen things you’re thankful for. Like so much this can be hard at first but once you’ve set it in motion, it will take on its own momentum.
Once you start to feel gratitude regularly, you’re really on the way to letting sadness out and happiness in.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Sadness is different from depression. Now you know about this along with five steps towards happiness. These include acceptance, mindfulness, reaching out, believing in better and gratitude. Going through these steps can really help you, but if you need more, it’s readily available. For an extra boost, call our supportive team of Readers, who can set you on your way to joyfulness once more.
PUBLISHED: 06 April 2018