Experiencing sadness, grief, loneliness, and pain can be difficult, particularly if you are naturally a cheerful, optimistic person. It's important to understand that these negative emotions are a natural aspect of life, and that everyone feels this way sometimes.
It's not about avoiding sadness or pain; it's about your response when these emotions crop up.
Here are a few ways to cope when life gets rough.
Reach Out To Others
A support system is one of the most valuable tools you can use when you're feeling down, no matter what the reason. Talk to your friends about what you're going through. Their instinct will be to help, either by offering advice or distracting you with fun activities. If you want to accept, that's fine, but it's also OK to let them know you just need a shoulder to cry on.
Not comfortable talking to a friend? There are online forums and support groups, as well as groups you can join IRL. Sometimes, finding a group of people who are experiencing similar situations to yours -- whether it's the death of a relative, a divorce, social anxiety, or any other cause of sadness or pain -- can really be helpful.
Make Time For Yourself
It can also be valuable, in dark times, to reconnect with who you are. Take up a long-abandoned hobby that brings you joy, or treat yourself to a new book by your favorite author. Get out into nature and let the fresh air and quiet replenish your spirit. Don't feel bad if you aren't up for socializing much, and don't let friends guilt you into going out when you'd rather chill at home. Self-care can do wonders for your spirit.
Remember, being alone doesn't necessarily mean being lonely; sadly, the opposite is true, and many people in committed relationships are nevertheless very lonely.
Face Into the Feelings
It can be so tempting, when you are depressed or grieving, to lose yourself in alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, shopping, or even promiscuity. However, giving in to destructive behaviors will only worsen the problem. You're kicking the can down the road, so to speak, and making it all that much harder to deal with in the future, once you've sobered up or put down your fork.
When your emotions bubble up, try to feel them. Truly feel them. Cry as much as you like. Scream if you want to scream. Hit your pillows or invest in a punching bag.
Journaling or other forms of writing can be cathartic, too. They can also help you understand why you're feeling the way you are, if there's no obvious source of your grief or pain.
Work it Out with Exercise
Another temptation may be to hunker down in bed or on the couch for days on end, watching television or movies and getting up only to answer the door when the pizza delivery arrives.
If that makes you feel better for an evening here or there, go for it. But don't let sloth become a habit. Again, this will only compound the issue.
Exercise will stimulate your endorphins and help you channel some of your negative emotions. A challenging run, swim, or bike ride will be cleansing. Kickboxing can help you release what's holding you back. Not particularly active? Try a gentle yoga sequence, which can do wonders for both your body and your heart.
Remember That This, Too, Shall Pass
To everything, there is a season. Your sadness and pain may feel overwhelming now, but they will not last forever. There will come a day when you wake up and find that the darkness has lifted slightly, and someday you may realize that you are actually feeling happy most of the time.
Keeping this perspective in mind can be difficult. Rely on your support system to remind you that this, too, shall pass. It may sound cheesy, but even writing yourself little sticky notes to that effect can help you remember the temporary nature of your pain.
Above all, if things ever seem completely hopeless, make sure to contact someone who can help.