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Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


Feeling Sad: A Guide to Your Emotions

PUBLISHED Dec 23rd, 2020 & UPDATED ON Feb 6th, 2023

You’re sad. Down in the dumps. Feelin’ blue. There’s endless, ENDLESS, reasons you could be feeling sad at any given moment. ‘Cause as many things there are in this wonderful world to be happy about, there’s just as many that make us sad as hell. Maybe you’re feeling down since moving to a new city because you miss all of your friends. Or maybe you’re upset because your partner totally forgot your birthday…  ouch. You could just be sad because you’ve been reading a shit load of bad news that never, ever seems to end (ughhh, tell us about it).

Look, we know how life can be a huge clusterfuck of emotions. Whatever the reason might be, just remember that it’s totally normal and okay to feel sad. It doesn’t matter if it’s over something small, like accidentally breaking your favourite coffee mug that your grandma gave you for Christmas or something bigger, like the end of a long-term relationship you thought would last forever. Being sad is something that comes and goes, whether we want it to or not. But guess what? Your feelings are valid, no matter what. We’re here for you!

So go ahead and curl up in your softest blanket, put on your go-to comfort show, or listen to a playlist of the saddest songs that makes you wanna cry your eyes out. Buuut first: keep on reading this article. ‘Cause we’re gonna dive thru feeling sad and how you can cope with this super fun emotion that we all love so much.

A Deeper Look at Feeling Sad

We get it. We know what being sad means. It’s one of the first emotions you learn about in preschool where they probably made you point to a teary-eyed cartoon character on some feelings chart and exclaim: “SAAAD!” But to get a ‘lil bit more technical, the APA Dictionary of Psychology defines sadness (n.) as “an emotional state of unhappiness, ranging in intensity from mild to extreme and usually aroused by the loss of something that is highly valued (e.g., by the rupture of a relationship).” Yeppp, that seems pretty on point.

Sometimes there’s confusion about sadness, or the assumption that feeling sad means you’re depressed. But that’s defs not the case! Feeling sad is a completely natural human feeling that we all experience now and then. Like we said, there’s different levels of sadness. But the key difference between feeling sad and being depressed is that feeling sad is temporary. It goes away with time. Depression is a mental illness that is long-term, and it impacts your mental wellbeing and how you function everyday. We can work through being sad. But with depression, it’s helpful to seek professional treatment.

Feeling Sad Is Not Bad

Another important thing to note: psychologists say that it can actually be a good thing to feel sometimes. Hold up. Why would we WANT to feel sad? That’s a fair question. Psychologists actually suggest that feeling sad is a good thing because it signals how we treat ourselves or how we want to be treated. Not just that, but feeling sad can also be a great indicator when something in our lives needs to change. Like maybe seeing your ex’s old hoodie hanging in your closet brings back memories and brings down your mood. Sign: it’s time to throw it in the donations bin! Or you could be spending wayyy too much time indoors ever since you started working from home, and it’s really bringing you down. Sign: start putting daily walks or plan trips to your favourite spots throughout the week! It’s so important to listen to what this feeling is really telling us about ourselves.

Alsooo, hear us out for a sec. There’s this misconception that we have to keep up appearances and be positive allll the time, or else people might think we’re a total bummer and not wanna be around us. Or that talking about how we’re sad might make someone else feel a ‘lil bit uncomfortable. First of all, fuck that! No, seriously. If being sad is such a universal emotion that we all go through from time to time, why is it so looked down upon to admit when we’re actually feeling this way?? We need to change the narrative around being sad and let us really feel what we’re feeling. Otherwise, how are we expected to move on with our lives and make improvements where they’re needed? Okay, end rant.

How Feeling Sad Shows Up Mentally

We usually feel sad when something upsetting or disappointing happens to us. And when we’re sad, it can be hard to focus on anything else. We might just want to be alone, cry and lay down for a while. We repeat: this. is. normal! It’s okay to have bad days where we just need to rest and look after ourselves. Sometimes, feeling sad can look like this:

  • Thinking things won’t get better
  • Having a hard time focusing on your work
  • Being cranky or easily annoyed
  • Losing interest in things that usually make you happy
  • Negative thoughts about yourself

How Feeling Sad Shows Up Physically

When we’re sad, we feel physical symptoms too. Here are some common ones:

  • The urge to cry
  • A ‘heartache’ sensation in your chest
  • A pit in your stomach 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low energy
  • Lack of restful sleep
  • A loss of your appetite

We want to emphasize that even though these mental and physical symptoms are normal to feel when you’re sad, it’s important to reach out for professional help if they don’t eventually fade away on their own. Noting physical symptoms is extremely important, especially when they continue to negatively impact your life! If these signs persist, they can be serious indicators of mental illness including depression which will require professional help.

5 Ways to Cope with Feeling Sad

Sooo… how do we stop feeling sad? We’ve got a few tips to help you work through this emotion like a rockstar! ‘Cause you are one.

1. Reach out to a support team 

Your loved ones are there for a reason! When you need to talk through how you’re feeling, lean on the people you trust. Sometimes just having someone to listen to us and validate how we’re feeling makes all the difference.

2. Visualize your happy place

It could be a cozy bookstore on the snowy mountainside with a crackling fireplace. Or maybe it’s the beaches you sun-bathed on during your last family vacay. Whatever your happy place in your mind is, go there. Picturing something that makes you feel warm and at peace can help lift your mood.

3. Engage in something soothing and comforting

Spend time with your pet by cuddling them or taking them on a walk. Touch something comforting like your fav cozy blanket. Brew some tea or your drink of choice. Just do something that makes you feel calm and safe.

4. Positive distraction

Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Watch an episode of a show that always makes you laugh. Clean out your closet. Listen to a podcast. Finding something that can take your mind off things can be so helpful.

5. Comfort yourself as you would expect a parent or friend to do

If you don’t have someone around who can be there for you right now, be there for yourself as best as you can. Remind yourself that everything will be okay, and that this feeling is temporary.

There you go. We hope these tips resonate with you and make you feel a little less alone when you’re sad. But remember: it’s okay to be sad. It’s normal. It’s human. So let yourself feel it, so that you can get through it. We are rooting for you!

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