It’s OK to Be Sad

Some days we feel good, very motivated, grateful, or excited. But let’s be honest – there are other days that we may not feel like getting out of bed, we feel nostalgic, tired, and that everything is “bad”, or we are not sure what is going on with our lives. Do any of these sound familiar?

As we go through these feelings, what do we do?

Well, most of us may think, “I don’t like this”, “everything is ok and I should not feel sad”, or “what is wrong with me?” Or maybe we spend most of our time wondering what’s wrong or trying to make the feeling go away. The truth is that sadness, as well as happiness, anger, excitement among others, is an emotion. All emotions are valid and they exist for a reason.

Your feelings matter and that maybe, instead of trying to hide or run from them, or hope they go away on their own, we can try to face them with kindness, love, and strength.

Please keep in mind that that I am not talking about excessive feelings of sadness for long periods of time and symptoms of depression. I am talking about that emotion when things don’t go the way we want, we miss someone very close to us, we realize things around us are changing, or someone did something that hurt us. Regardless of the reason, your emotions are valid and acknowledging them is the first step to cope with them.

First, lets describe how sadness feels for you.

  • Maybe it fells like having no energy, no interest in doing things we like for a short period of time, or just feeling physically tired for no specific reason. By describing how this emotion feels physically and emotionally, you are taking control of it. Doing that helps to cope. But, what about if we cry? Crying is a good thing! Someone told me once that crying is like breathing when it comes to emotions because it helps us to be present.
  • Then, lets practice some self-awareness. Notice what is around you, close your eyes, take a deep breath. Remember my last blog post? It offers great guidance to stay in the moment and name your feelings in the moment.
  • Contacting someone who is supportive is very helpful. It can be someone you are in contact frequently or someone whom you haven’t talked to in a long time. Wouldn’t it be nice to reconnect with a former friend or relative and laugh about what you guys used to do together?
  • Let’s name 3 things about yourself that you are proud of. This is one of my favorite exercises. But let’s do more than naming them; lets remember how hard we had to work to accomplish them. Look at all the work you had to do to be at this point after accomplishing the thing that you are proud of. What does it say about you? That you rock!

Recognizing that we are sad is not bad, it is healthy!

Recognizing and accepting that we have uncomfortable feelings is healthy. It helps you to stay in contact with your inner self and also to recognize when others are having a challenging day.

Remember there is nothing wrong with feeling sad. The question is whether you are going to let the emotion control you or are you are going to understand your feelings by staying present physically and emotionally?

If the feelings of sadness are excessive and are affecting many aspects of your life and/or how you relate to others, talking to a trained therapist can help.

How to Cope with Life’s Changes

When we go through life changes, whether they are expected or unexpected, we still have to deal with it.

Every time we are considering making a change such as

  • Changing jobs
  • Going back to school
  • Breaking up from a relationship
  • Going back to work after being sick or on maternity leave
  • Moving

…or going through a new experience(s) (whether is expected or not) such as:

  • Having a baby
  • Getting married
  • Going to a new school
  • Losing someone
  • Getting divorced or breaking up
  • Relocating
  • Retiring

When we go through change, we are definitely going to experience lots of thoughts and feelings. Some of those may be nice and exciting and others not so much. Sometimes we tend to “deal” with the fear or confusion of facing something new by procrastinating or blaming ourselves for not being able to handle all of the changes. Then, we are likely to face others stressors as a consequence of not acknowledging that something changed or is changing. Maybe we are making random mistakes, or feeling sad, unorganized, irritable, and vulnerable among other things. The truth of the matter is that something is not right and perhaps we don’t feel ourselves.

Have you ever felt like that?

If so, maybe these little steps could help you to get out of this vicious cycle of not feeling yourself: I suggest doing this at the beginning or end of the day:

  • First, take deep breath (inhale through your nose until there is no more room for more air, hold for five seconds, then, exhale (slowly) through your mouth (repeat at least 4 times.)
  • Then, take a quick mindful look around; it is likely you will become aware of some physical changes in your surroundings, your routine, or life setting.
  • Go deeper and pay attention to your feelings. You may notice fear, happiness, worry, excitement, and sadness about what is going on. Perhaps what you notice doesn’t have a name but it is psychically comfortable or uncomfortable. Either way is OK because those are YOUR feelings.
  • Acknowledging them, even the uncomfortable feelings, will help you tremendously to cope with the effects of change.

You see, our feelings exist for a reason whether we like them or not. Can you imagine how much time we could save if instead of avoiding them, we face them?

I know, it sounds easier said than done, but knowing what you feel or how it feels helps you to be present and not to be so hard on yourself. You are facing a change and it takes time to adjust. Recognizing how we feel or even knowing that “something is not right” and is a great way start dealing with changes.

Asking for professional help, talking to others, or engaging in activities you enjoy is a great way to start adjusting and honoring what you are going through. Part of change is developing a new version of you.

Who is Carmen Gehrke?

Hello, I am Carmen Gehrke, LMHC, with Longwood Therapy LLC. I help individuals and couples heal from trauma so they can move forward with their lives.

When we feel stuck or not sure why we feel the way we do, there could be many reasons for that and my job is to help you figure that out and move forward. I believe that counseling is a process of change and empowerment in which each of us learns to honor, understand, and accept what we feel, physically and emotionally, so we can create room for change. Being “ok” doesn’t mean always being happy; it means understanding that uncomfortable feelings such as sadness or fear are equally valid as being happy or excited. It is not easy and my job is not to tell you what to do or to heal you, it is to help you heal using your own tools and to offer you additional tools to heal and grow.

I am passionate about the work I do because I believe that going through a difficult time or single experience may be difficult to accept but it is also an opportunity to acknowledge how strong we are and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. All the opposite, it shows we care.

Through my personal and professional life I have gone through many changes, some of them I wanted, others caught me by surprise. I had the privilege to be surrounded by amazing sources of support, professionally and personally, and to be able to appreciate what it means to heal and to honor it. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience that much support.

I created my practice to reach others who are ready to make a change and perhaps are unsure how or why, but they are ready to take charge of how they feel. Going through the ups and downs of life is challenging. It is ok to have “bad” days but it doesn’t have to be like that all the time.

I recently decided to start this blog as a source of support for the ones who are feeling or felt overwhelmed with what is going on in their lives as we balance or at least try to balance the many roles we play every day as parents, providers, caregivers, spouses, children, and members of society among others.

My wish is that as you read this blog you note that you are not alone and that you find useful information on how to empower and honor what is important to you.