Feeling sad? Learn how to overcome sadness
How to overcome sadness. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m sick of this situation”. “I’m sad, I can’t stand my life, I don’t want to get off the sofa”. “Why did he/she leave me? What am I supposed to do?” “I still can’t come to terms with what happened”. If you feel or have felt this way you are going through a period of transitional sadness. If you want to learn how to overcome sadness, we will tell you how on this post.
How to overcome sadness – What is sadness?
Sadness is part of six basic emotions that all humans have, these include: fear, happiness, disgust, surprise and anger. Being sad is characterised by having low morale, feelings of loneliness, guilt, tiredness… It’s the answer to unpleasant events, disappointments, death of someone close, break-up, anger towards someone you care for, etc.
How to overcome sadness – What is the difference between sadness and depression?
It’s very important to not confuse sadness with depression, since the cause and the symptoms are not the same. Depression can originate from different causes even genetic ones. Throughout life, we carry with different problems that may later manifest themselves as depression. A person with depression can feel helpless, desperate like there is no illusion to live. Meanwhile in sadness, the person feels sad but its fleeting. Sometimes its not even felt strongly but just momentarily. If sadness starts to set in and invade the persons life it might be transforming into depression.
Tips on how to overcome sadness
“I wake up every morning, open my eyes and think my life is extremely unsatisfying. I don’t have the will to live. I don’t want to leave my bed because I can’t stop thinking about what is tormenting me. I don’t know what to do. I’m sad.”
- The routine of saying yes! If this is your morning routine, you need to change your attitude. In order to overcome this, you need to first acknowledge that it’s happening. Yes, you are sad, and there’s is nothing to be ashamed or alarmed by. Once you’ve accepted it, overcoming it seems easier. Each morning try thinking how wonderful it is to live. On how many things you would love to do or accomplish. These thoughts will help you get out of bed. Don’t let the sheets keep you from showing the world who you are. Try to practice this every day and give way to change.
- Challenge yourself. Even if you are sad, try to each day when you wake up set yourself a challenge for the day. It can be going for a run, riding a horse, walking, cooking your favorite dish, trekking, reading a new novel, etc. It’s important that when the day is over you feel proud of accomplishing your challenge.Always try to keep healthy habits that help you move forward.
- Quit what is hurting you. If you are going through a rough patch it’s normal to be sad. If you got fired, your partner broke it off with you, had a discussion with someone you love, death of a loved one, are all normal scenarios to be sad about. However, we cannot live in the past, we have to move forward and look for new perspectives and actions. Learning to cope with loneliness is important and necessary. It helps you get to know yourself and love yourself, all things necessary in order to learn how to overcome sadness.
- Smile even when you are sad. At the end of the day, always look at the positive aspects. Before bed try thinking of all the times you laughed throughout the day and all the happy moments. This exercise will help you focus on the positive aspects of life and forget the sad ones. Negative emotions serve a purpose however it’s important to always look at the positive aspects of every situation and learn how to be happy.
- Practice Yoga or mediation. There are many people joining these activities because they are not only great for your posture but also for emotional harmony. Mindfulness meditation can help you overcome sadness. You can search tutorials on YouTube, join classes or start by relaxing muscles on your own with your eyes closed. You will feel relaxed and your attitude will start changing the more you practice it.
- Practice outdoor activities. Even if you are sad, going for a walk or run, taking photos of the outdoors, breathing fresh air, etc. can help overcome sadness and are activities that don’t requiere spending money. Don’t let your house trap you in your sadness, go outside and view a different perspective.
- Adopt a pet. It’s scientifically proven than having a pet has many benefits and can help overcome sadness. Animal shelters have different types of pets up for adoption. This is a great solution because you are helping an animal in need and in return the animal is helping you, giving you unconditional love. It’s a win-win situation.
- Talk to people around you. Sometimes speaking to people about our problems is a form of catharsis. We feel a weight being lifted and start feeling relieved. This is one of the keys to happiness. If you have the opportunity to share with people that are understanding and caring don’t miss the chance of telling them how you feel since it’s going to help overcoming sadness. Don’t be afraid to appear weak, we have all been sad and needed someone to talk at different times of our lives.
- Minimize sadness symptoms with CogniFit‘s personal brain training. People that are sad have some cognitive skills altered such as working memory, inhibition, divided attention and other executive functions. Recent studies have demonstrated that CogniFit’s personal brain training reduces depression symptoms allowing the person to develop different strategies for rumination and perseveration (common symptoms in sadness and depression).
If you feel that the sadness doesn’t go away, it’s important you visit a specialist. Here is an article on the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist and who you should see, in order to get treatment or advice on the correct steps to follow.
How to overcome sadness- Know sadness’ physiology
When we feel sadness, our hormones destabilize producing these effects:
- Sadness is distinguished by alterations in the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS suffers a raise in cardiac frequency and blood pressure.
- In Cacioppo, Klein and Hatfield’s study it was demonstrated that sadness can produce a decrease in interest in different activities.
- Being sad is exhausting. The brain is in constant stress and demands lots of glucose. We feel tired and don’t really know why.
- When we are sad, we loose our sweet tooth. Our receptors decrease and we can find ourselves at times binge eating without knowing the real quantities due to low receptors.
- Serotonin levels drop. This type of neurotransmitter is responsible for our emotional balance and when it drops we start feeling emotionally imbalanced.
It is said that sadness is evolutionary since it can help focus our energies towards ourselves. We stop centering our attention in others and start working on us. On the other hand, others think its function is a cry for help, where people can help us overcome it.
Comment below if you have any questions!
This post was originally written in Spanish by Belén Benito, translated by Alejandra Salazar.
Alejandra is a clinical and health psychologist. She is a child specialist with a diploma in evaluation and intervention in autism. She has worked in different schools with young children and private practice for over 6 years. She is interested in early childhood intervention, emotional intelligence, and attachment styles. As a brain and human behavior enthusiast, she is more than happy to answer your questions and share her experience.