How to Handle and Release Sadness

For the record, it’s totally okay to feel sad…or any emotion, for that matter. But we don’t want to dwell in sadness forever, because that can lead to us missing out on life or making certain changes in our lives that would make us feel better.

Here are some tips (that I use too!) to help you move through sadness, feel better, and make positive changes in your life:

1. Know that it’s okay to feel sad. We live in a society that tends to shame us for feeling anything but happy and “okay” so that we can be productive members of the world. We tend not to talk about deep, “dark” emotions…which doesn’t exactly help us move through them; silencing those emotions can actually make them fester. So, tell yourself, “I’m sad right now and that’s okay.” Or, “I feel sad right now and that’s the right way to feel.” I learned this from the amazing Alison Leipzig.

2. Be gentle with yourself. You’re already sad, so don’t make it worse by being mad at yourself for feeling that way. Instead, treat and speak to yourself with gentleness. Treat yourself like you’re caring for a very sweet child (or an adorable pet!). Take a shower. Go to bed early. Tell yourself that you love yourself (“I know you’re sad, and I love you so much”). Drink some water or tea. Listen to music that relaxes you (y’all know how much I love Malibu). Have a phone date with a friend.

3. Feel your feelings. Releasing sadness–truly releasing it and not just putting a band-aid on it–requires you to actually feel your sadness. Let yourself cry or mope around for a little while. Journal about how you feel. Talk to one of your friends. Meditate for 5 minutes. Hang out with your sadness. Don’t push it away or think/talk/eat/shop/work over it. When you do that, the sadness never actually goes away, and in fact, it gets worse. Don’t be afraid of it. Just feel sad.

4. Do small, productive things. It’s crucial to feel your sadness, and it’s also crucial to not dwell in it forever. Doing small, productive things can help you take positive action in your life without sadness taking over and debilitating you (though it is okay to let the sadness take over for a little while). When I’m sad, I clean my bedroom so that it’s more peaceful and sanctuary-like. I make my bed, organize my clothes, and light a candle. Sometimes I make a smoothie to have for breakfast the next morning. Other small, productive things include returning emails, paying a bill, putting gas in your car, or doing the dishes.

Bottom line? It’s okay to feel sad, and it’s crucial that you know sadness is temporary. There are things you can do to help release your sadness, and you also have to trust that your sadness will pass, and life will go on.