Feeling sad is something that we are often trying to avoid. Social Media gives us loads of hints and tips to help prevent sadness. But the emotion is there for several good reasons. In this article I will go into why it’s good to feel sad sometimes.
As human beings we feel a whole range of emotions, sometimes feeling all of them in the space of a single day. But I’ve noticed more and more on social media, often on accounts which are excellent advocates of improving mental health awareness, that it can feel like we’re not ‘allowed’ to feel the more negative emotions. Whilst these accounts are awesome and very useful for people who are genuinely struggling with conditions such as depression, for the majority of us it can seem like we’re never meant to have a down day.
Feeling sad is one of the four main emotions (along with happiness, fear and anger) which all human beings experience from time to time. Sadness can tell you an awful lot about yourself as well as help in certain situations, which I have listed below.
It is important to note that if you are feeling prolonged periods of sadness, you should visit your GP for support with this. As someone who has experienced depression in the past, there is a big difference between being sad for a day and being sad all the time. Make sure you look after yourself and get the help you deserve.
Sadness Tells You How You Want to be Treated
We all deserve to be treated with respect, both by others an ourselves. Unfortunately, often through no-ones fault, this doesn’t happen and we can be strongly affected by this. If someone has upset you, have a think about the specifics of the situation and how you would have preferred it had played out. Maybe have a chat with that person and tell them how it made you feel – they probably didn’t even realise what was happening and would be eager to rectify the issue.
I know I have accidentally upset people in the past and usually it was something that could easily be fixed. Equally, I have let people walk all over me because I felt I shouldn’t feel sad and I certainly wasn’t comfortable to admit to someone how their actions affected me.
It can be tricky admitting to ourselves and other people that we feel sad. This involves being vulnerable with others which goes against our survival instincts. But I was totally converted to the benefits of being vulnerable with others after watching an awesome TED talk by Brene Brown on it which you can watch HERE. After watching that, you will why it’s so important to embrace those feelings and tell people what’s going on for you.
It Helps You Realise What You’re Grateful For
Sometimes sadness can make you realise what’s actually important to us, especially during times of grief. Grief doesn’t always have to be the loss of a person, it could be the loss of an object or a situation too. At the time of writing this, we are in the midst of Quarantine and I know many people who have been grieving their lifestyle before everything went into lockdown. As a result, we are more grateful for any time we get to recreate that old lifestyle and the people we are not able to see during this time(which I think is why we spend some much time on Zoom!).
Feeling sad enabled our minds and bodies to tell us what it was we really enjoy and miss when it isn’t around. It means that wen those opportunities return, we will not take them for granted as we may have done in the past.
Feeling Sad Can Improve Your Motivation
Ever felt sad because you didn’t achieve something? Even though no else is worried and tells you you’re doing fine, it can be so frustrating when we experience the ‘near miss’.
For some people this sadness can be so powerful in making sure they achieve their goals. When we are happy, we want to maintain that feeling and so it can be easy to want to stay in the current state and not try to change or improve it. We all have that one dream we wish we could fulfill, but the risk of it going badly is enough to keep us from meeting it, because we’re happy with the situation we are in.
But what if you weren’t happy? That would be enough to make you want to strive for that dream and achieve it wouldn’t it? If we didn’t feel sad we might not achieve anything. Something to think about when you’re looking at any big goals or dreams…
It Can Improve Your Memory
It’s actually been proven that if you experience something whilst feeling sad, you’re more likely to remember the details of the situation later on and you will be less likely to be swayed into “remembering” false information.
I’ve listened to people’s ‘funny stories’ before and known full well some of the details where bound to be exaggerated to make the punchline, but I’ve never questioned a sad story. And how often has someone been telling you about something dreadful that happened to them and they’ve said the sentence ‘i don’t know why I remember this but…’?
When you think about it, remembering more when we’re sad makes sense. In order to take part in the ‘survival of the fittest’, you’re going to want to remember the negative situations more clearly in order to ensure you either don’t experience them again or if they happen ensure you survive it again, and hopefully in a better state than last time.
So Sadness Can Have It’s Benefits Then…
Next time you’re trying to bottle up those negative emotions or trying to ‘stay positive’ when life has dealt you lemons, think about the fact that maybe for that moment it’s good to feel a bit sad. All of your emotions are valid, including the negative ones. And it may be that your body is trying to tell you something. Instead of ignoring those signals, think about why you are feeling the way you do and maybe learn from the situation. Cut yourself some slack and have a good cry. You’ll probably feel better for it!
A Sidenote: When Sadness IS Bad
As I mentioned before, long term sadness is something that needs to be addressed. But how do you know when feeling low becomes full blown depression?
The key thing to note is that depression is much more complicated than ‘just feeling a bit low all the time’. People with depression will often feel a range of negative emotions, and tell themselves negative things such as they are worthless for example. They may also experience difficulty in concentrating on things and sometimes struggle to eat or sleep.
Depression lasts for longer than two weeks and has a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. If you think this is you, contact your GP or check out the NHS WEBSITE for advice on how to seek help.