Sadness is an emotional pain associated with, or characterised by, feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, grief, helplessness, disappointment and sorrow. An individual experiencing sadness may become quiet or lethargic and withdraw themselves from others. An example of severe sadness is depression, a mood which can be brought on by major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder. Crying can be an indication of sadness.

Studies have shown that sadness lasts longer than many other emotions because we tend to spend more time thinking about it. Ruminating, or going over our sad thoughts and feelings again and again, can lead to depression and keep you from overcoming sadness.

Rumination plays a role in how long emotions last - The findings indicate that emotions do not last as long when they arise from events that carry low importance to the individual. However, long-lasting emotions come from events with strong importance attached to them. For example, sadness is typically linked to events with great impact, such as death or injury. Rumination is the central determinant of why some emotions last longer than others. Emotions associated with high levels of rumination will last longest.

In other words, thinking about events and consequences repeatedly – which individuals tend to do more with situations linked to feelings of sadness as a way of coping or comprehending – causes the emotion to endure.
There are several things you can do to help yourself through the hard times..

Express your sadness - Let yourself cry. Crying is a physical outlet that allows you to move through the emotion. It can also relax you. Research suggests that a stress hormone is released through tears. When you have finished crying, think through and reflect upon what has happened.

Journal - Write out your feelings in a journal. Describe what's been happening and how upset you have been feeling in as much detail as you can. Question how you have been feeling physically. If you still feel sad there is a good reason. You may still need to process a situation or internal conflict. Journaling can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings. Let go of events and all of your feelings.

Listen to sad music - Sad music provides a connection to your feelings which gives you an outlet for processing them. If you are not ready to deal with your feelings, music can provide a distraction until you are ready to confront your sadness.

Be creative - Draw, colour in, paint, mould plasticine, do pottery. Art lets you release your sadness without words.

Recognise negative thoughts - Negative thoughts are often unrealistic thoughts about yourself, a situation or future events. They can overwhelm your positive thoughts and change your view of yourself. If you don't catch them as they appear you won't be able to use healthy coping skills. Having a negative view of yourself can lead to depression. Discover the causes of your negative thoughts. Think of the concerns you have underneath the negative thoughts. For example, if you think you'll always be alone, your underlying concerns might be related to lack of self-confidence when meeting new people. While becoming aware of your feelings may not be comfortable, it is important to understand what's creating your negative thoughts.

Let go of negative thoughts - Simply ask yourself if the thought is the truth. This will lead you to realise that most thoughts are not true but are just reactions. You might also ask yourself the following questions to challenge and let go of negative thoughts:

  • Why do you think the thought is true?
  • What facts support it?
  • What are your reactions to the negative thoughts (actions, feelings, and other emotions)?
  • How would not having that thought change your actions or behaviour? 

Accept your feelings - Accepting your emotions is the first step in letting your sadness out. You're sad for a reason and it's important to acknowledge that sadness and pain. This way, you can begin the journey of letting it go. Give yourself time to process your emotions.

Distract yourself - Find pleasant things to do. Doing things that you enjoy can help you overcome sadness, even if you don’t initially feel like doing them. Go for a walk. Take an art class. Find a new hobby. Learn how to play classical guitar. Whatever it is that you get enjoyment out of, make yourself do it.

Interact with friends - Interacting with loved ones can boost your body’s production of oxytocin. Go to a movie, grab a coffee, or go on a blind date. Studies have shown that retreating from others can worsen depressive symptoms, including sadness.

Exercise - Exercise releases endorphins and other chemicals that can help fight sadness. It will also give you a time to focus on one specific goal. This may help distract you from focusing on your sadness. It doesn’t have to be the gym, walking and gardening also have a positive effect. Yoga and Tai Chi have been shown to relieve stress and elevate mood.

Practice mindfulness meditation - Mindfulness meditation is based on acknowledging your experiences and accepting them without judging them or yourself. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness meditation can actually change how your brain responds to sadness. It can also help you recover from sadness faster. Because it focuses on remaining in the present moment, it can help you avoid rumination and can reduce your brain’s responses to negative emotional stimuli.

Therapy - For further help please see www.jilljesson.com

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