Feeling sad? It happens to everyone. There will be days when you just can’t seem to snap out of it, no matter how much you reframe to the positive or call upon your gratitude. What should you do? Feel the sadness. Sadness is just another feeling. When you feel happy, tired, curious, bored those feelings do not trigger concern. You simply acknowledge, accept, and tend to those feelings through action. Sadness is the same. Acknowledge and accept that you are feeling sad and then nurture yourself through your sadness.

Engage your 5 senses in self care:

  • Sight: Look at pictures or images that make you smile, feel peaceful, hopeful. Read poems, quotes, prayers that comfort. Watch videos, shows, or movies that make you laugh. Google “videos that boost your mood” or “photographs that boost your mood” the options are endless.
  • Hearing: Listen to music that is upbeat or transports you to a place of contentment. Listen to sounds that relax, (ocean waves, nature sounds, etc.). Healthjourneys.com has a variety of guided imagery and meditations to help and the best part is you can sample many before purchasing.
  • Taste: Healthy foods that taste great can lift spirits as can foods that take you to a nostalgic place where you felt comforted and cared for. Health experts recommend the following foods to feel good: dark leafy greens, walnuts, avocado, berries, tomatoes, apples and beans to name a few. Try incorporating some of these foods into your daily diet…what do you have to lose?
  • Smell: For some the smell of lavender or vanilla instantly relaxes. Nothing lifts my spirits like the smell of peppermint tea or homemade chicken soup cooking on the stove. For my kids it’s the smell of banana bread or cookies baking in the oven. Adding aromatherapy to your self care is an easy strategy to help lift your spirits. Mayo Clinic suggests that essential oils trigger smell receptors to the part of your brain that controls your mood. Essential Oils are available many places now. Whole Foods has an entire aisle. Some recommended scents that might be helpful: jasmine, chamomile, ylang-ylang, lavender, bergamot, rose….there are many. Scent is personal so be sure to sample essential oils as you would cologne or perfume before purchasing.
  • TouchMassages can bring instant comfort. Massages lower cortisol, (body’s response to stress), and increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, (which are neurotransmitters that help stabilize mood). If you are not into massages try a hot bath or shower using essential oils, (be sure to double check that your essential oil can be used in this way). A steam with a eucalyptus essential oil provides a true energy boost. Relaxing with a heating pad eases tension. And what feels better than wrapping yourself in a soft bathrobe or your favorite cozy sweater or sweats?

Exercise is also a great way to boost your mood. Exercise releases brain chemicals that can ease feelings of sadness. So get out and walk, take a class, or try yoga.

Remember sadness is a natural human emotion. Everyone feels sad sometimes. Self care, exercise, and connecting with others brings relief to sadness. It is important to understand the difference between feeling sad and having depression. Depression is a real illness. There is no shame in having depression just as there is no shame in having other illnesses. Get the help you need to feel better.

Some signs of depression, (persistent symptoms lasting for at least 2 weeks): Persistent depressed mood affecting your ability to handle daily activities. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies that would normally bring pleasure or interest. Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, extreme sadness. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions. Significant changes in sleep patterns, (not able to sleep or always wanting to sleep).

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression please schedule an appointment with a therapist. Speaking to a therapist can help you feel better. Call your primary care doctor and schedule an immediate appointment for a physical and to discuss treatments for depression. If you are having thoughts of suicide call the confidential Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911. Depression is treatable. There is help, you are not alone.