When we’re in a feeling of sadness, our first reaction is to resist it and find ways to avoid feeling that way again. We might feel helpless, not knowing what to do with these often intense feelings. It can feel like you’re drowning in sadness and have no way out. However, resistance only keeps us stuck, preventing us from releasing the energy that created it in the first place.
All emotions, including sadness, are the body’s way of sending information to us. When we avoid, repress or detach from our feelings, we disconnect from a critical stream of information that can tell us what is good or bad for us.
Emotions are there to help and support you, so why not start creating space for them? Here are five ways to create space for sadness so it can be released:
Breathe and feel your body
When you’re feeling incredibly emotional, it can be helpful to bring yourself back to the present moment by connecting to your body. When we’re experiencing strong emotions, we can easily get lost in our thoughts, which only intensify the feelings.
Our breath is a constant reminder to come back to the here and now, which can help you to release intense emotions from the past that still linger.
When you breathe, you’re activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of our nervous system designed for rest and recovery. So by slowing down and connecting to your body, you’re giving yourself a break you need to relax and recover from the difficult emotions you’re experiencing.
Be with the feeling
Once you’ve calmed yourself down, you might be able to sit with the feeling and tap into its wisdom. It’s important to give yourself time to be with the emotion and not push it away. This doesn’t mean you have to stay in that state of sadness forever, but rather, give the emotion space to exist. Make room for the feeling and allow it to be there. Let yourself cry, get angry, or feel any other emotion you’re experiencing at the moment.
By letting the sadness be there, you open up to the information in that emotion. Sadness asks us, “What wants to be released?”
Avoid judging yourself for feeling that way, and try not to attach any meaning to the emotion. Instead, just let it be there. When you resist what you’re feeling, it only causes more tension and gets in the way of releasing the energy that created the feeling in the first place.
Exercise to release pent-up energy
When we experience painful emotions, it’s often because unprocessed energy from the past still lingers in our bodies. The best way to release pent-up energy is to feel it, but often when we’re feeling very sad, we cannot make sense of that feeling and release it.
Movement is a great way to release pent-up energy, so it doesn’t stay trapped in your body. Getting outside to move in nature is a beautiful way to release sadness. Nature heals in miraculous ways.
Journal to get curious about what might be underneath the sadness
When we’re feeling very sad, it can be hard to make sense of where that feeling is coming from. Emotions are like that; they ebb and flow in the body and don’t always seem connected to what is happening in your life at the moment.
When this happens, it can be constructive to explore what is underneath this unexpected sadness; perhaps you are holding on too tightly to a past memory or a childhood experience that was very difficult.
Journaling, especially when you’re feeling sad, can help you move away from the emotion and explore where it’s coming from. Just listen to your sadness and ask, “What wants to be expressed right now?” and write from whatever comes up.
Perhaps you will find yourself writing about your past relationship, childhood experiences, or current situation where you have been denying your feelings. You might not find the answer right away, but it’s likely there and waiting to be discovered.
Find a support person who will listen without judging or trying to fix you
When we’re sad, it is very natural to want to find ways to feel better, but sometimes the people around us don’t know how to help or add to the frustration we feel.
It is helpful to find a support person who will listen without judging or trying to fix you. This person can be a friend, therapist, coach, or family member who can be with you at that moment and listen without trying to offer advice or tell you how to feel better.
Finding someone to share your feelings with and talk about what’s happening to you is one of the most helpful things you can do to release sadness and move towards a healthier state of being.
Sadness is an essential and necessary emotion. It shows us that we’re growing and expanding by facing our challenges and dealing with life’s difficult situations. Sadness lets us know about areas of our life where we are ready to move on.
When we’re sad, we’re actually on our way to feeling better and releasing. So it’s important to practice self-compassion and not get lost in that emotion by resisting it or recycling it repeatedly by telling the story.
Instead, it’s helpful to breathe, be with the feeling, exercise, journal, find a supportive person, and resist giving in to the feeling by getting stuck in the past. These five ways can help you create space for sadness to be released.
Dave is a Leadership and Life Coach living in Steveston, B.C., Canada.
Dave’s expertise is with individuals and teams who feel stressed out and exhausted and know that they want something different.
In 2017, Dave left a career as a Senior Manager at a large Local Government organization to start Small Pause Coaching & Consulting. His philosophy about taking a pause and inviting in a new conversation, a deeper conversation, has supported hundreds of individuals and organizational clients.
He is a Certified HeartMath® Coach & Mentor, a Certified Trauma-sensitive HeartMath® Practitioner, a trained Equine Guided Learning Facilitator and a Certified Coach with the International Coaches Federation (ICF). Dave took his coaches training at the Newfield Network in Boulder, Colorado.
Dave also expresses his creativity through the Small Pause Shop, where he designs apparel that supports living life ‘inside the pause.’