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The other night as I was closing my computer, I felt uncomfortable sensations inside my chest.
I had a sudden urge to go to the store. It was later than I’d usually go, but the impulse to walk, to go to the store, was strong.
I didn’t go. I didn’t go because I knew it was simply a subconscious attempt to avoid feeling the discomfort that was swirling inside of me.
Instead, I opened my meditation mat.
The moment I unfolded it, I started crying. I lay there and wept on my mat for what felt like an eternity, and when I was done—I felt peace. I felt tired, wrung out, and totally emotionally exhausted—but I also felt peace. Even as I cried, a part of my consciousness, it seemed, was breathing more lightly, basking in presence, beginning to bathe in a softer sense of serenity—ah, yes. Finally.
These emotions just wanted to be felt.
The most self-loving thing I’ve learned in terms of feeling sadness has been to allow myself to truly feel it. To open to it. To allow myself to feel it fully.
I hold space for myself to feel my sadness because I understand there’s wisdom—and freedom—lingering within it.
We all feel sad sometimes. And we all need to know what we need to get through these moments with some element of grace and ease—with softness, gentleness, tenderness, and self-kindness.
Early that morning, I asked Elephant readers this question on social media:
“How do you take care of yourself when you feel sad?”
Here are 25 ways to take care of ourselves when we feel sad—straight from Elephant readers:
1. “I allow myself to cry, a lot. Then when I’m done, I rinse my face with cold water, and try to tackle the rest of my day.” ~ Andrea
2. “I get up, get dressed, and go out for a long hike…fresh air and being outside help me to put things in perspective.” ~ Lisa
3. “I write; putting my feelings into words helps. The overwhelming sadness is temporary.” ~ Donna
4. “A good cry is good for the soul.” ~ Angelina
5. “I rest, think of something funny, and have a cup of coffee or tea.” ~ Judith
6. “Take a long shower or bath. Cry. Listen to music. Cuddle my daughter.” ~ Amber
7. “I do something for someone else, and that fills my cup.” ~ Marci
8. “Just feel the feelings. Not everything has to be attended to outside of just feeling the feeling.” ~ Edwina
9. “Get some exercise, play some video games, avoid social media during that time.” ~ Matthew
10. “Whatever feels good to you as self-care—I’m a hot bath chick. I soak in the tub as long as I need. I use lavender. The smell is therapeutic. I play my favorite music while I’m in the tub as well, and light candles sometimes. Afterward, I make hot tea or coffee and sit outdoors or inside, whatever I’m feeling. Sip slowly and take deep breaths. Reflect, sit in your sadness, and own it. Feel it. Heal it and release it when you are ready.” ~ Leigh
11. “I paint.” ~ Sunny
12. “I take it easy and let myself do little things like rest, take a nap, spend time without a goal, or eat a treat. And I reach out to a few friends so that, at least, one is likely to have a moment, in that moment, to talk for a little bit, even if it’s just chit chat. And then the others jump in when they have time after work or in between family, etcetera. Just need a reminder that you’re human and not alone sometimes. It’s worth it to ask for help and talk about your feelings! It’s normal and a good way to be!” ~ Angie
13. “Cartoons from my childhood, drink chamomile tea, hug my puppy, watch my favorite comedy series, read a book.” ~ Zoe
14. “I will just let myself have a good cry. When I am inexplicably sad for an extended period of time (I have fought depression for most of my life), I will watch the saddest movie I can find. I let myself sob for someone else’s pain. The next day I feel cleansed.” ~ Christine
15. “First thing I do if I am sad is to take stock of what I’m grateful for and stop feeling sorry for myself! The next thing I do is get off my butt and go outside and walk, hike, garden, or do something active. If I’m still sad after that, I allow myself to feel whatever it is I’m feeling, observe what it does to me physically, so I can get through to the other side of the thing and recognize the triggers and the reactions for future. Being sad isn’t such an awful thing. I just don’t wallow in it.” ~ Celeste
16. “Pour a glass of water, breath deep, accept the sadness, and sit with it. Then get another glass of water, breathe, and take a break. There is no time limit on this. Sometimes there are people who can hold space and help us; sometimes we are alone. It’s ok to be sad for a while. But you don’t have to be alone. Call crisis numbers…talk about it.” ~ Toni
17. “I just try to look at the positive, make sure I eat and drink, talk to a friend, meditate on why I am sad, so I can find the root problem, but sometimes I just let myself be sad.” ~ Nina
18. “I let myself cry. Secondly, I believe in prayers. I am very spiritual and believe when we are down and battling our demons, there is always God, or a positive energy or a guardian angel (whatever you believe in) looking over us and listening to our woes. Belief and faith heal your heart no matter how wounded you are.” ~ Shrabana
19. “I call my sister and we talk and cry together. It is so helpful to have such a wonderful woman as my sister in my life.” ~ Jenny
20. “I try to do something productive, do the dishes or some light cleaning with music on…sometimes I do water coloring.” ~ Reham
21. “I sit with it, fully feel it, and listen to the things it’s telling me…when the waves come I expect them, try to let them be; I sink if I fight them…the waves, eventually, slow and I find my calm again…ha, bloody rough seas at times, though I’m not gonna lie, it’s not easy…” ~ Michelle
22. “Scratch the dog. Her joy is infectious.” ~ Stephanie
23. “Listen to audiobooks and get lost in stories while I knit.” ~ Olof
24. “Netflix, pajamas, comfy bed.” ~ Casey
25. “Cry, time with nature, journal, listen to music, exercise!” ~ Yvette