Tag Archives: Sadness

Saying Goodbye to Lousy Moods

liberation photo

Since you hate loud bars and don’t know your co-workers that well, you’ve never gone out for happy hour. But you’d like to socialize more so one Friday night you join them.

You sit down next to someone with their back to you. Everyone except you leans across the table toward each other while you sit up straight with a tight smile and fiddle with your napkin. No one notices you aren’t talking. Just as well: they’re arguing politics and their god-awful views are unbelievable.

Your face gets twitchy.

All you really wanted to do tonight was read your mystery novel, so you creep out, go home and turn on some jazz. You can’t quite be in the moment, though. Sixty percent of you trying to read but forty percent is back at the bar, feeling stupid.

The next morning you feel like your insides have been drained out and replaced with corn syrup. Your coffee tastes bitter. Normally you would go do your Saturday volunteer work, but instead you sit down with your novel again.

You mope. It seems impossible to turn your mood around.

What do you do?

Realizing that you’re caught up in distorted thoughts and feelings is the first step out.

Don’t worry that you’re repressing your emotions or invalidating yourself. Your feelings are real and telling you about real problems. But you can’t solve them if you’re drowning in muck. You must return to even keel to find answers.

Remind yourself that at the center of your being you are deeply good. This remains true no matter what you feel. You may find this meditation by Vietnamese meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh helpful:

Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in.

 Breathing out, I know I’m breathing out.

 Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.

 Breathing out, I feel fresh.

 Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.

 Breathing out, I feel solid.

 Breathing in, I become calm water.

 Breathing out, I reflect the sky and the mountains.

 Breathing in, I become the vastness of space.

 Breathing out, I feel infinite freedom.

You have now started to pull yourself out. In the next post we will look at how to continue feeling better.

Readers: What works for you to get out of a bad mood?

What To Do About The Blues

Whether dealing with temporary disappointments, a difficult grief process, or clinical depression, there are ways to ease sad feelings. Let’s look at three basics for blues management.

Get active. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to lift a mood. Research has demonstrated that exercise is as effective as antidepressant medication in relieving mild or moderate depression

Volunteering. Leaving the house and being around people is very hard during difficult times. However, staying alone at home worsens a depressed mood considerably. Volunteering helps in at least four ways: it gets a person dressed and out of the house, provides for focused conversation, shifts thinking to something positive, and provides a sense of purpose.

Consider helping at The Humane Society. Holding and petting animals and caring for their basic needs feels very good. Animals make few demands on us. Dogs (and many cats) love attention and are generous with affection.

Eating healthy food. Loss of appetite or overeating on junk food both go hand in hand with sadness. When eating very little, food needs to count nutritionally even more than usual. And given that overeating and gaining weight make most people feel worse, fresh produce is a very good choice for those who eat more when they are feeling bad.

Good places to buy fresh, healthy food are farmers markets in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Talking with the sellers provides manageable, focused, friendly conversation. It also feels good and can provide a sense of meaning to support local growers, especially in a challenging economy.

Even though setbacks, grief, and depression are not simple problems, very simple strategies can help tremendously.

Sadness, Grief, or Depression?

There are important differences between sadness, grief, and depression. Each one calls for a different response.

Sadness is a normal, healthy part of life. Many things cause it: disappointments, losing something important, and self-critical thoughts, to name a few. We often want to just get rid of sadness, or to avoid it by distracting ourselves. Unfortunately, this makes it last longer and even makes the problem worse. The best thing we can do when we get sad is to let ourselves feel it and know that it will pass on its own.

Grief is also a normal part of life. When someone important to us dies, we go through a process of grieving that generally lasts up to a year or more. The terrible sadness we feel shows how important that person was to us. If we don’t push grief away, it will also pass, and eventually we will no longer feel so empty. It is important to have caring people to talk with, and support groups can be especially helpful. In the Ann Arbor area, Arbor Hospice provides groups and workshops for adults, adolescents, and younger children who have lost loved ones.

Depression is a medical illness. Even though it feels almost just like sadness or grief, the brain and brain chemistry are involved in a very different way. Unlike sadness or grief, depression does not go away naturally. Someone with depression may feel worse when well-meaning loved ones say to cheer up, because this person is biologically unable to do so. Medication may help, and is often used only temporarily. It is not a “crutch,” but more like taking medication for thyroid conditions, high blood pressure, or other medical problems.

During a period of sadness, it can be hard to tell if one is experiencing sadness, grief, or depression. Very generally speaking, sadness comes and goes, grief is lessened when one is around family or friends, and depression is constant. For some ideas on how to feel better, this article on what to do about a blue mood may be helpful.

If a low mood persists, especially if there is no apparent reason for it, or if you or a loved one is troubled by ongoing, seemingly insurmountable problems, it is a good idea to consult a therapist. I am experienced helping people deal with these types of problems — please call me.