Sadness is illegal in the U.S. Okay, maybe not illegal, but treated with fear and shame, as if it were contagious and deadly. It's not. It's a basic emotion that every one feels. It's much healthier to notice it and deal with it respectfully than to pretend it's not there, which is what our culture tries to do.
What Causes Sadness
Things often don't go the ways we want. We lose relationships and opportunities. Sadness is the natural reaction, the way we're built to respond.
Sadness vs. Depression
Distinguish sadness from depression. Sadness is an emotion that sometimes comes and goes quickly, our natural reaction to loss, whereas depression is more than that: it usually involves a mindset of hopelessness or an emotional numbing, which is very different from actually feeling your sadness. Feeling sadness, say, after a loved one dies, can be very alive, whereas depression often involves deadening.
I strongly recommend giving yourself permission to feel sad from time to time. If you're sad (or depressed) all the time, please seek therapy to find out why and what you can do about it.
How To Deal With Sadness Well
* Be nice to yourself about being sad. This makes a huge difference--whether you judge yourself vs. have compassion for yourself. Try to adopt the mindset of compassion. If it helps, imagine that someone you care about and respect is feeling sad. How would you think about that? What would you say?
* Let it out. It's the nature of sadness--and other emotions--that they want to come out. So cry. Grieve. Just let it come. You don't need to force it.
* Soothe yourself. This isn't denial; it's just being nice to yourself while you go through a hard time.
* Distract yourself. Wait, didn't I just say let it out? Yes, but sometimes you can't. Sometimes you need a break.
* If the sadness wants to flow, but you need to take a break, you can strike a bargain with the sad part of yourself, as you would with a needy 3-year-old: "Okay, I'll give you attention in a bit, but right now I need to do something else."
Words for Sadness
Here are some words/feelings that I think are basically in the sadness cluster of emotion: blue, grieving, sad, weepy, heartbroken, lonely, down, slow, dragging, melancholy...and many more.
I wish you the very best in dealing with your sadness. We all feel it sometimes!
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Licensed psychologist, Austin