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How to Cope with Extreme Sadness or Loss

Sadness is a difficult feeling to experience. It's not only an emotion you feel in the heart, but when sadness is really heavy, you can feel it in the body too. It might feel like a weight in the stomach or a physical pain in the chest.  No matter how you experience it, you should know that there are ways to help manage sadness so that it's not such a burden. In fact, if you can utilize the following suggestions, you might be able to move through sadness so that in time, you're feeling lighter and easier.  With enough time, you may be able to accept the experience of loss - whatever that was - and move on.

Here are tips to help cope with sadness when you're faced with it:

1.     Have a good cry. This might seem obvious - when you're sad, you cry. But there are many people who have a hard time crying. Perhaps they don't want to be vulnerable or perhaps they don't want to really feel the emotion of sadness. Yet doing so can help you with moving through the emotion so that it's less of a weight on you emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

2.     Spend time in nature. One of the best ways to nurture the heart is to spend time outside. When you're listening to the crashing waves, the wind through the trees, or the rush of a flowing river, somehow life feels okay again. Although the pain might still be there, nature can help soothe the sadness so that it's at least bearable.

3.     Exercise. Sometimes with sadness, there's anger, disappointment, grief, frustration, or denial. When you get the body moving, the endorphins kick in and may help you gain a different perspective on your experience. Plus, exercise on a regular basis can help prevent depression. If you're feeling extreme sadness, exercise may be able to keep the emotional pain from turning into clinical depression.

4.     Do nice things for yourself. When you're experiencing heavy sadness, it can color your life with the blues and you may begin to neglect yourself. Be sure to cook for yourself, take hot baths, receive support from friends, and wear comfortable clothing. When you're being kind to yourself, it sends the message that your sadness isn't going to completely take over your life.

5.     Get creative. Art allows us to express in ways that are beyond language. You might be able to process and heal your sadness through painting, sculpting, dancing, or writing. Use art as a means to express your sadness so that it doesn't continue to weigh you down.

6.     Clean your house or car. If the sadness you feel seems to be creating havoc in your life, cleaning is a good way to feel like at least some part of your life is organized and in order. When you're feeling sad, take the time to do the dishes, dust the shelves, or vacuum.

7.     See a therapist. Sometimes, simple tips aren't enough. They may be useful, but you may need professional assistance to assist you with processing heavy feelings. If your emotions are too much for you to bear, contact a mental health provider.

These are suggestions for making it through life when you're feeling extreme sadness. You don't have to do it alone. Use the above tips, call friends and family, and seek the support of a mental health professional if needed.

 

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Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.