“We’re overcome with deep sadness to be at this point,” my friend texted me.
Now, you need to know this girl is Tigger on steroids. She’s ordinarily happy, upbeat, and always positive and hopeful. But, sister, she wasn’t on the day she sent me this text.
You see, she and her husband had found themselves in a hard place. Her beloved mother had been in and out of institutions because of mental illness, and now, they had to make a hard, soul-tearing decision about her guardianship.
For years, they rallied, they loved, and they emptied their savings for the best treatment centers. They fought, trusted, and never gave up hope. And, now they felt like they were giving up her mom to an uncertain future.
Yet, even in this hard place, she finished her text to me with this: “We are trusting. Father knows, and He is near.”
No matter how bleak things seemed or how shattered she felt, she knew that God was with them and somehow, no matter how it looked, He was involved, in charge, and in control.
Maybe you are in a hard place today too. And, like my friend, you’re learning that just because you trust completely doesn’t mean you won’t feel completely sad sometimes.
Sadness is emotional pain that comes from loss, despair, grief, sorrow, or helplessness.
There is no way to fix sadness. You can’t go to a happy theme park and ride rides and eat cotton candy to make the sadness go away. You can’t talk yourself out of sadness any better than you can talk yourself out of hunger—you just are. It’s a reality we need to understand and accept.
So what do you do when you are just plain sad?
On this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I give you six strategies to overcome sadness, so it doesn’t overcome you. We’ll help you learn how to stay on top of your sadness and keep it from ruling your life.
6 Ways to Overcome Sadness
- Cry. For some of us, this is the most natural response to sadness. But for others, crying feels like weakness or vulnerability. But crying is healthy. Jesus cried when He stood before His friend Lazarus’ tomb. He was sad and He wept (John 11:35). When we cry, we don’t repress our sadness. Repression can lead to depression—all that sorrow has to go somewhere. Some studies suggest that when you cry, your body relaxes and releases endorphins which are a natural “feel-good” chemical in your body. God designed you with tear ducts for a reason. So, let your tears help you heal.
- Exercise. I know, I know, it’s the last thing on our minds when we just want to curl up on the couch and drown our sorrows in a gallon of Chunky Monkey ice cream. But God created our bodies to have and need an escape valve for the pressure of sadness and exercise is a great way to release it. Not only does exercise release endorphins, which make us feel better, it also makes us focus on something other than our sadness while we’re working out. So, if sadness is your constant companion, take it on a run or to an aerobics class. Chances are your sadness won’t be able to keep up, and it will leave you alone while you sweat it out in the gym.
- Smile. You aren’t fake if you smile even when you’re sad, you’re smart. Several smiles, even when you are sad, can help you feel better. Not only has research shown that smiling helps, but the opposite is also true—frowning makes your sadness worse. It’s so interesting that our face can inform how we feel, isn’t it? So, if you’re sad, try smiling and see how you feel.
- Listen to music. Listening to music can help soothe and relax you. And, it can also shift your focus onto something more beautiful and higher than you. For a believer in Christ, listening to music introduces a whole other layer of healing. You can listen to Scripture and God’s Word can fill your heart and heal your wounds. And, when you listen to praise music and tune in your heart to the lyrics, you will experience God’s presence for He “inhabits the praise” of His people (Psalm 22:3). I am so serious about this that I created my “Happy, Happy, Happy” playlist. It’s from a few years ago, but it will still make you smile. The other thing that makes me happy is thinking of heaven. So, I have a “Heaven” playlist too.
- Hang out with others. It’s often a natural response when we’re sad to isolate ourselves. You know, stay home, watch sad movies, thumb through the photos that represent your loss, sit on the couch, and ruminate. But you don’t need to do all that alone. You need a buddy to hang out with. I read some research that showed that interacting with loved ones can boost your body’s production of oxytocin. And, studies show that retreating from others makes depression worse. So, if you’re sad, don’t wait until you feel better to hang out with a friend. Hang out with a friend now and see how it can make you feel better.
- Still your soul. Take time to pray and meditate. When sadness is pressing in, invite God into your sadness. Pray to Him because He hears and He cares. And, meditate on comforting Scriptures. God’s presence and His Word can answer your sadness with hope and comfort. Often when we’re sad, we’re meditating on our loss, our sorrow, and how we wish things were different. So, turning that pondering into prayer and transferring meditation on sorrow to meditating on God’s Word can lift your spirit and relieve some of your sadness.
Friend, if you’re feeling sad today, you won’t always feel this way, I promise. Sadness is just part of being human, but God has a hope and a future for all of us, and it is a future full of joy and victory.
So, when sadness hits, hit back with these six strategies but, ultimately, trust God with your sadness. He is with you. So, walk with Him, smile with Him, and cry. He will wipe your tears.
And, remember, whatever you face, however sad you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies for Young Women: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
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If you are feeling sadness today, what is one strategy you plan to try this week? Share in the comments.