How to Let out Your Sadness

Three Parts:Expressing Your SadnessDealing With Your SadnessOvercoming Sadness

Most people recognize sadness as a problem or negative emotion. Often, sad people try to ignore or cover up sadness, but feeling sad is a normal emotional response to difficult events in life.[1] Even though it's a natural feeling, you should learn to let out your sadness. This will help you process what you're going through and move on emotionally.

Part 1
Expressing Your Sadness

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    Let yourself cry. Allow of the sadness, upset, and misery inside you to release. Some people find that they benefit from crying. This is because crying is a physical outlet that allows you to move through emotion. It can also relax you. Research suggests that a stress hormone is released through tears.[2] After you have finished crying, lie back on your bed and think through what has happened.
    • If reflection makes you upset, let yourself cry again. No one can see you, so don’t be embarrassed. Just let yourself emotionally release.
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    Write your feelings in a journal. Go to a quiet place where you can sit with your thoughts. Describe your feelings, what's been happening, and how upset you are in as much detail as you can. Be sure to include how you feel physically. These can help you understand the underlying feelings of sadness. You might want to try writing a letter to your pain if you're having trouble simply writing your feelings.[3]
    • If you've let your feelings out and are still sad, there is a good reason. You could still need to process a situational or internal conflict. Journaling can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings.[4]
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    Dance or listen to sad music. Current research suggests that dancing can improve mental health symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, anxiety, and their physical symptoms. Dance can be formal at a studio or just moving to music in your house.[5] Research also shows that listening to sad music might help when you feel sad.[6][7] Sad music provides a connection to the feelings which gives you an outlet for processing them.
    • If you are not ready to deal with your feelings, music can provide a distraction till you're ready to confront your sadness.
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    Create art. Doing something artistic is a way to be creative and express your sadness with color, form, shape, and sometimes texture. Art lets you release your sadness without words. Try:[8]
    • Guided imagery: Start by visualizing your feelings. Close your eyes and imagine what they look like, the colors, shapes, etc. Open your eyes and draw the image on paper. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. Just release the feeling however it comes out on paper.
    • Mandala: This is an intricate circle that you can color or paint to find emotional release. Look for a mandala online that you can print off. Some people prefer this kind of structured art project that addresses the subconscious.

Part 2
Dealing With Your Sadness

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    Recognize negative thoughts. Negatives thoughts are often unrealistic thoughts about a situation, yourself, or future events. These can overwhelm your positive thoughts and change your view of yourself. If you don't catch these negative thoughts, you won't be able to use healthy coping skills.[9] Having a negative view of yourself can lead to depression.[10]
    • For example, you might be sad because you were just broken up with. After a break up, most people have some negative thoughts like, "I wasn't a good partner," or "I'll always be alone."
    • If you start believing these negative thoughts, your actions will start supporting them. For example, you may stop going on dates because you think you'll always be alone.[11]
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    Discover the causes of your negative thoughts. Think of the concerns you have underneath the negative thoughts. For example, if you think you'll always be alone, your underlying concerns might be related to lack of self-confidence when meeting new people. While becoming aware of your feelings may not be comfortable, it is important to understand what's creating your negative thoughts.[12]
    • You might try making a thought record by writing down an event that you wish happened differently or that you could have handled better. Track any feelings of sadness or events surrounding the feeling.[13]
    • For example, your initial negative thought might be, "I'm a loser since I can't get a date." The underlying cause of this thought might be that you're feeling sad about the breakup and you feel alone since you had plans to go on a date.
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    Challenge and let go of negative thoughts. Simply ask yourself if the thought is the truth. This will lead you to realize that most thoughts are not true, but are just reactions.[14][15] You might also ask yourself the following questions to challenge and let go of negative thoughts:
    • Why do you think the thought is true? What facts support it? "I don't even know how to ask someone out on a date. I'm out of practice."
    • What are your reactions to the negative thoughts (actions, feelings, and other emotions)? "I'm scared to ask someone to go on a date with me."
    • How would not having that thought change your actions or behaviors? "I shouldn't be so scared. I should could try asking someone out when I'm ready."
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    Respect your feelings. You're allowed to be sad so don't try to bottle up your feelings. Accepting your emotions is the first step in letting your sadness out. You're sad for a reason and it's important to acknowledge that sadness and pain. This way, you can begin the journey of letting it go.[16] If you're struggling to respect your feelings, try writing down or saying aloud:
    • “ I am sad when………………………. And that is okay.”
    • “ I am allowed to be sad about…….”
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    Don't let anyone belittle your feelings. Often family and friends try to comfort you and mean well by saying that the sadness will pass or there's some good in the situation. Even when they have the best intention, this can put minimize your legitimate feeling of sadness.[17][18] Tell them that you know they mean well, but that you feel sad and need time to be sad.
    • For example, if you were just broken up with and your friend tells you that now you have lots of free time, you can tell your friend that you need time to process your emotions.

Part 3
Overcoming Sadness

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    Practice positive self talk or affirmations. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and things you like about yourself. Or, verbally remind yourself about positive statements that mean something to you, such as quotes.[19]You can write this down as a list and keep it nearby for whenever you're feeling sad. Research shows that you can foster and protect positive thoughts by carrying a physical reminder of them.[20][21][22]
    • To keep positive statements or affirmations nearby, try writing them on index cards that you keep in your wallet, store them on your phone, or make them your computer's screen saver.
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    Spend time talking with others. Surround yourself with friends or family who can relate to your feelings. Explain how you're feeling and see if it helps. Chances are, they'll try to lift your spirits. It's also okay to tell them that you're sad and need time to be sad.[23]
    • Try talking with someone you trust who is wise or older. This person might have more life experiences to draw upon, which can help you work through your sadness.
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    Distract yourself by doing positive things. It's easy to focus on the negative and overlook positive emotions, like happy, relaxed, excited, joyous, or encouraged. Take a moment to write down happy or relaxing memories. This reminder can make you feel positive again.[24] You can also distract yourself from negative emotions by doing something fun or positive. You could:[25]
    • Color your hair
    • Make a cup of tea
    • Count up to 500 or 1000
    • Work on a puzzle or mind game
    • Go "people watching"
    • Play a musical instrument
    • Watch TV or a movie
    • Paint your nails
    • Organize something like books, your closet, etc.
    • Make origami to occupy your hands
    • Be active. Play a sport, take a walk, or work out
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    Know when to get professional help. If you have sadness that lasts longer than a month, you may be depressed and need professional support or counseling. Symptoms of depression are far more severe than sadness and include complete loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, irritability, agitation, lower sex drive, struggles concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, and feeling tired all the time.[26] If you recognize serious signs of suicidal thoughts, get help immediately. Go to an emergency room, or call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for help.[27] Suicidal signs include:[28]
    • Threats or talk of suicide including looking of suicide plan online
    • Statements implying you don't care about anything or won't be around anymore
    • Statements about being a burden to others
    • Feeling trapped
    • Feeling uncontrollable pain
    • Giving away your belongings, making a will or funeral arrangements
    • Purchasing a gun or other weapon
    • Sudden, unexplained cheerfulness or calm after a period of depression


  • Call someone who can give you some guidance. If there is nobody you can rely upon around you, there are telephone help lines that you can call for help.
  • If you experience problems that is about something private, go to a place where you are alone, and hug a stuffed animal.
  • The most important thing is to love the way you are.

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Categories: Depression | Managing Sadness and Nostalgia