I am sad. I admit it. So, now what do I do? Where do I go from here? Is this just sadness, or is it something more?
We all get down from time to time. Life comes at you fast. So, what are some things we can do to “nip it in the bud” so to speak?
And what if we feel like it’s more than just sadness? Let’s cover a few ways we can work out our emotions and plan for success.
How Can I Tell the Difference Between Depression and Sadness?
Sadness is an emotion everyone experiences periodically. It can be brought on by a life change such as a death in the family or a job loss. There’s a specific trigger behind it.
Many benefit from just “letting it all out” with actions such as crying, venting, or recreational activities. These actions serve to alleviate the mental and emotional pain we’re experiencing due to sadness. Of course, it’s important to remember what counts as healthy self-care and what doesn’t.
It’s also short-term and passes with time. However, if feelings of sadness last beyond a 2-week period, it could be a sign of depression.
You can find resources for depression and other mental health needs here.
What Can I Do If It’s Just Sadness?
When I am sad, I normally turn to cleaning. Clean something you’ve been needing to spruce up for a while. There’s a soothing sense of satisfaction that comes with the act. For me, a messy head equals a messy mind. So, I strive to tidy up when I can.
Exercise and do a workout you’ve been wanting to experiment with. Go to the gym! I’m a huge procrastinator, and I have to work myself up just to put my workout clothes on. Still, even the act of walking into the building can put you at ease and motivate you.
Help someone else out with something. There’s always someone in need. Whether it’s errands or a quick favor, help people. Think about how you feel when someone makes your day. Now put that energy out there!
Write your feelings out. I’m not saying write an entire novel. That’s a very demanding process. Find something that works for you. You can diary, blog, or just jot some thoughts down here and there. When I am sad, poetry helps me turn my thoughts into art. I always feel accomplished and creative once I’ve completed a poem.
Ask for Help. Don’t feel like you need to go through this alone. Besides, you never know who’s gone through the same thing and can empathize. Sometimes, just knowing someone else understands is all that we need.
What if it Happens Again?
The first thing I want you to do is not be hard on yourself for being human. Sadness is a natural state that we all experience. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of it.
Then, I want you to remember the points we discussed earlier to help alleviate some of those feelings. When you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready, right?
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, here’s a link with a pretty extensive list of resources for you. I also wrote a book about overcoming low self-esteem, which I highly recommend.
Self care seems to be getting a lot more exposure thanks to social media. More people want to improve their lives and grow positively. As a result, it’s “trendy” to focus more on ourselves.
However, there seems to be a trend lately to confuse self care with self-indulgence and selfishness. Yes, we’re focusing more on ourselves. That’s great. What isn’t great is taking it so far that we forget to be considerate of others.
So, what are some examples of “self care” that aren’t self care at all? Let’s dig right into it!
Flaking Out, Then Playing the Victim
We all know this person. They are never on time for anything. We can tell them weeks in advance. They can get multiple reminders the week leading up to the event. And they will still either fail to show up or arrive extremely late.
Then, when questioned, they lash out. They blame you for being unfair to them. You’re “expecting too much of them” by wanting your time to be respected. So, you end up feeling bad for being so “needy.”
Stop doing that.
First, this is prime example of self-indulgence. You are putting your wants ahead of being considerate. Second, people have the right to hold you accountable for being inconsiderate.
Yes, some of us suffer from anxiety, depression, you name it. You should still work to treat people fairly and with respect.
Going Out So Much You Forget About Yourself
On the other hand, we have the individual who goes out too much. Every night they can be found at the club/bar/movies having a good time.
It’s important to have a good time. We need to let loose more often in my opinion. The issue is that it often comes into conflict with self care. We forget to pay bills because we partied too hard the night before. Gym visits become less frequent. We may even start performing poorly at work.
When this happens, it’s time to take a step back. Are you avoiding something? Is there a stressor at home, for instance, you don’t want to deal with? For some, it’s a bill they’re stressing over. Others are avoiding a roommate.
Figure out what it is that compels you to go out so frequently. Then, properly address it.
Living Beyond Your Means in the Name of “Treating Yourself”
Speaking of partying too much, do you have a budget? If not, maybe it’s time to start one.
Society convinces us that the “good life” involves needless shopping. In return, we end up overspending and digging ourselves into debt.
We think, “Well, life’s already hard. What’s the point in moderation?”
Then, we end up buying that pricey, new video game. We go out to eat more often than we can afford. The credit car gets maxed out more often. And pretty soon, we’re back where we started. It’s a never-ending cycle.
We don’t practice moderation enough.
It’s possible to still purchase that new video game when you can afford it. You don’t have to suffer under a mountain of credit card debt. You simply have to live within your means.
Staying up All Night Watching TV
I’m the biggest culprit when it comes to staying up too late. There’s not enough hours in the day, right? You get off work, and the last thing you want to do is call it a night. It means you’ll just have to wake up and go straight back to work.
The problem is I end up feeling exhausted and miserable the next day. Then, the weekend arrives, and I spend most of it catching up on the sleep I’ve missed.
I don’t even get to enjoy my weekend because I’ve spent so much of it recharging. Then, it’s time to go back to work on Monday. What did I solve?
No matter what, getting a full night’s rest is important. Yes, we have a finite number of hours in our day. Absolutely, work can get tiresome some days. But we only have so much energy too. It’s important that we conserve it.
Overeating Comfort Food
Here’s another one that gets me. Have you ever reached a point in your diet where you’re just…over it? Okay, nearly every diet ends up this way. We get on the scale after a week, notice we haven’t lost any weight, and give up.
What’s the point? I put in all this work, and I get nothing? Might as well eat what I want, when I want. At least it’ll taste good.
And yes, it certainly does, but we still didn’t feel good. We don’t feel like we’re taking care of ourselves or making a positive change.
The occasional brownie won’t set you back light years, but eating an entire tray won’t get you to your health goal. You have to keep your destination in mind.
On the other end of the healthy eating spectrum, we have extreme or “fad” diets. These promise to get you to lose 50 pounds in 14 days. Super easy and exactly what we need, right? Wrong. This is not only unhealthy but also unsafe.
Proper weight loss involves a gradual journey. Unfortunately, we’re no longer designed to wait. We want results to show up the next day. However, patience is just as important as moderation in this case.
It’s so tempting to try that fad diet and lose that weight as soon as possible. But if the healthy mindset and eating habits aren’t in place, it’s going to be a waste of time.
Living to be the Center of Attention
You’ve got to make everything about you. A conversation is boring or pointless unless it’s about you at some point. Your situation is more important than anyone else’s.
And you probably don’t even realize you do it.
These traits don’t inherently make you a bad person. We all want to be seen as special and important at some point. The problem is when we try to cover up our insecurities and low self-worth by being self-centered.
We want all the attention because we feel without it we’ll fade into obscurity. People will abandon us. We’ll never find true love. You get the picture. As a result, we believe we’ll be doomed to a miserable existence.
We’re wrong, of course.
You don’t have to be the center of attention in order to feel good about yourself. Address what it is you’re insecure about, and the need for attention will lessen with time.
Trying to Do This All On Your Own
People let me down a lot in my life. As a result, I felt I had to do everything myself.
The problem is this only put more on my shoulders than I could handle. Yes, I’d love the fact that I didn’t have to rely on others. But in the end, so much more could have been accomplished had I asked for help.
It goes back to not being afraid to hold people accountable. You are not required to carry large physical, emotional, or mental workloads on your own.
Speak up. Let people know when they’ve let you down and how. Don’t be afraid to tell others you’ve got too much on your plate. It’s okay to have limits. Don’t wait until you’re buried under it all to raise your hand. Someone might not see you at first.
Checking Your Self-Worth
It all starts with self-worth. If your self-esteem isn’t in order, it’s hard to keep yourself on track. I highly recommend reading my book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, for more guidance.
Yeah, we have examples of self care thrown at us almost daily. We just don’t seem to have time for it. Self-improvement seems daunting and time-consuming at first. And you’re not wrong. It’s not a quick or easy process, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.
We have busy, demanding lives. Where do we even begin? What do we need to bring with us? How long is it all going to take?
The most difficult part of any journey involves taking the first step. Once we set ourselves in motion, we know we’re expected to commit to our chosen path. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to get started.
Now let’s make the starting point a lot more accessible, shall we?
A Few Easy Things
Compliment something about someone.
Donate to a charity, no matter what size the donation is.
Give away old clothes.
Create a budget.
Do something nice for someone that they’ll never know about.
Rearrange your furniture.
Attend a Meetup and speak to everyone there.
Pick one thing you’ve been procrastinating about and get it done today.
Write down at least 50 things you’re grateful about.
Learn how to cook something new.
Send someone a care package for literally no reason.
Make encouraging post-its and place them on your mirror.
Make Encouragement Contagious
We don’t encourage each other enough. As a result, we fail to uplift those around us sufficiently. And as humans, we already have a negativity bias.
So, I can’t stress this enough. Spread encouragement like you’re trying to sell Herbalife. Believe you can make a difference, and you will. Sure, it won’t be readily apparent, but change takes time. And the more gradual the change, the harder it will be for things to backslide.
If you believe in something enough, it will often catch on without you realizing it. We take on a certain demeanor, a certain rhythm when we choose self-improvment.
Suddenly, people want to know what makes us tick. What is it about us lately? Why are we so happy (even if we’re not at the moment)?
The Wisdom in Being Grateful
Need more examples of self care? I wrote a book about self-improvement titled Life After Low Self-Esteem. In it, I mention writing down 50 things you’re grateful for. Why 50?
Many of us don’t even think we have that much to be thankful for, but try it anyway. You’ll more than likely surprise yourself. There are also sheets here you can reference for self-improvement as well.
Just remember. Take that first step, and the rest will follow.