Coping With Sadness.
1. Cry. Some studies suggest that crying may have a relaxing effect on the body by releasing endorphins, a natural “feel-good” chemical in your body. Crying may also activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body recover from stress and trauma.
    • Several studies suggest that crying is a useful coping mechanism because it communicates pain to others. It may also encourage others to show support.[2]
    • Dr. William Frey’s idea that crying removes toxins from the body is very popular in the media. This may be true, although the amount of toxins eliminated by crying is negligible. Most tears are reabsorbed in your nasal cavity.
    • One study suggested that whether you feel better after crying is linked to how your culture views crying. If your culture (or even your family) views crying as something shameful, you may not feel better after crying.[3]
    • Don’t make yourself cry if you don’t feel like it. While popular wisdom holds that not crying after a sadness-provoking incident is unhealthy, this is not the case. Crying because you feel obligated to may actually keep you from recovering.[4]
  1. Exercise. Several studies have shown that exercise releases endorphins and other chemicals that can help fight sadness.[5] One study showed that participants who did moderate exercise over a 10-week period felt more energetic, positive, and calm than those who did not. In addition, the benefits of exercise were greater for people experiencing depressed mood.[6]
    • Exercise will also give you a time to focus on one specific goal. This may help distract you from focusing on your sadness.
    • You don’t have to run a marathon or be a gym rat to see the benefits of exercise. Even light activities such as gardening and walking show a positive effect.
  2. Smile. Several studies have shown that smiling, even when you are sad, can help you feel better.[7]Duchenne smiles, or smiles that engage your eye muscles as well as those near your mouth, have the strongest positive effect on your mood. So if you are feeling sad, try to smile. Even if you don’t feel like it at first, it may help you feel more positive.
    • Research has also showed the opposite: people who frown when they feel unhappy are likely to feel more unhappy than those who do not (or cannot) frown.[8]
  3. Listen to music. Listening to music can help soothe and relax you. Why you choose to listen to music is as important as what you listen to. Listening to “beautiful but sad” classical music that you enjoy may help people work through their own sadness.[9][10]
    • It’s not a good idea to use music to reminisce about sad situations or experiences. Research has shown that this may make your sadness worse. Choosing music that you find beautiful is the most effective way to relieve sadness.[11]
    • If sadness has you feeling stressed out, the British Academy of Sound Therapy has put together a playlist of the “world’s most relaxing music” according to science. These songs include music by Enya, Airstream, Marconi Union, and Coldplay.[12]
  4. Take a warm bath or shower. Research has shown that physical warmth has a comforting effect. Taking a warm bath or a hot shower will help you relax. It may also help you soothe your feelings of sadness.

 

2

Overcoming Sadness

Acknowledge your feelings. Sadness is normal and can even be healthy. Research has shown that experiencing mixed feelings and negative feelings is crucial to mental well-being.[14] Many studies have shown that people who apologize for or repress their feelings actually intensify those negative feelings.

  • Try to acknowledge your emotions without judging yourself for them. It’s easy to think, “This isn’t a big deal, why am I so sad about it?” Instead, accept your emotions for what they are. This will help you manage them.[15]
    Distract yourself. Studies have shown that rumination, or the process of going over and over your feelings of sadness, hinders recovery. [16] Distracting yourself from ruminating on your sadness may help you overcome it.[17]

    • 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.[18] 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, go on a blind date. Studies have shown that retreating from others can worsen depressive symptoms, including sadness.[19]
    3
    Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is based on acknowledging your experiences and accepting them without judging them or yourself. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness can actually change how your brain responds to sadness. It can also help you recover from sadness faster.[20]

    • Because mindfulness focuses on remaining in the present moment, it can help you avoid rumination.
    4
    Try meditation. A common mindfulness technique is mindfulness meditation. Several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can reduce your brain’s responses to negative emotional stimuli.[21]

    • Mindfulness meditation can also alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
    • A basic mindfulness meditation takes about 15 minutes. Find a quiet, comfortable place. Sit, either in a chair or on the floor with your legs crossed. Loosen tight clothing and make yourself comfortable.[22]
    • Choose one aspect of your breathing to focus on. This could be the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe, or the sensation of air going through your nostrils. Focus your concentration on that element.
    • Inhale slowly through your nose. Allow your abdomen to relax and expand as you fill your lungs. Slowly exhale through your mouth.
    • Continue breathing as you expand your focus. Notice the sensations you feel. These could include the feeling of your clothes against your skin or the beat of your heart.
    • Acknowledge these sensations but don’t judge them. If you find yourself getting distracted, return to focusing on your breathing.
    5
    Take up yoga or tai chi. Yoga and Tai Chi have been shown to relieve stress and elevate mood. These effects may be because of the emphasis on “self-awareness” in these forms of exercise. Many studies have shown that Yoga and Tai Chi help relieve physical and psychological pain.[23][24]

    • Taking classes with others may provide more relief than doing these exercises on your own.

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