February focus: Sadness

This week I’m going to take a deeper look at some of the primary emotions and how they serve us.

Sadness – one of the universal emotions

🧡 Sadness is something we all experience – usually associated with a perception of losing something or someone that is important to us. It’s a way of signalling to ourselves and perhaps to others that we need healing and comfort. It’s our brain’s way of telling us that something has hurt us.

🧡 Sadness varies in intensity – grief and sorrow at its most intense, through hopelessness and helplessness, to discouragement and disappointment at the milder end.

🧡 As we explored yesterday, emotions travel in company, and you might experience joy or fear or anger alongside sadness – or something else (reminiscing, sense of abandonment, worried about being alone or coping).

A signal of loss

🧡 Sadness is often triggered by the loss of a person (rejection, break-up, sickness, death) or the loss of something important (job, identity, unachieved goals).

🧡 Sadness can last longer than some of the other emotions but, like the others, it comes and goes. Some people even enjoy the feeling of being sad and look for the catharsis it can bring, such as watching sad movies. Others avoid it at all costs and even shy away from relationships so they don’t have to risk loss or vulnerability.

🧡 When someone experiences the emotion of sadness, they typically have a sad expression / posture: raised inner eyebrows, dropping eyelids and down-turned mouth, lower and softer voice ( or a higher and louder one with intense sadness). Their body might be hunched and their gaze looking away. They might also feel physical symptoms such as a heaviness or tightness in their chest, watery eyes and heavy limbs.

Sadness helps us grieve and seek comfort

🧡 Sadness serves us in two ways: it lets us know we need to grieve and it prompts us to seek comfort and connection.

It can be difficult to ‘lean in’ to sadness and often we choose to suppress, avoid and hide sad feelings from ourselves and others. This can take a lot of energy and doesn’t usually make the issue / trigger go away.

As we discussed last week, recognising and accepting our emotions for what they are can help us move on from them. Sadness can help you come to terms with the hurt and help you build emotional strength. It can be helpful to use writing to capture and process your feelings of hurt, or speak with someone you trust.

Allowing ourselves to feel sadness and move through it can often unlock joy once the pain has been processed. Studies have also shown that feeling sadness can improve memory, and increase motivation, perseverance, and empathy.

Note: Depression and sadness are not the same thing. Depression is a mood disorder and people with depression can experience long, intense periods of sadness. Depression should be treated with the support of medical professionals.

🧡 Daily Practice : Self care

Go to bed thirty minutes earlier.

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