We have a kaleidoscope of emotions and experiences, including feeling sad and lonely. Not all of our emotions are pleasant, but together they do make up the human experience.
In the middle of work, relationships, and other responsibilities, having our lives be awash with confusing, painful, and debilitating emotions will likely come across as a deep inconvenience. However, we feel what we feel for a reason, and it’s important to pay attention to our feelings because they are letting us know what’s going on in our inner world.
Being in touch with your emotions is one of the best things you can do for yourself because it allows you to address problems and nurture your emotional and mental health. Ignoring your emotions is akin to ignoring your “check engine” light – you may keep ignoring it, but it should be no surprise if your engine seizes up or breaks down.
Dealing with emotions.
There are healthy ways of dealing with your emotions, just as there are unhealthy ways of dealing with them. What should you do then when you find yourself feeling sad and lonely? Here are some tips for you to consider.
Allow yourself to feel what you feel.
One of the worst things you can do is to try to run away from how you feel. You need to give yourself permission to feel what you feel.
In the 2015 Pixar movie Inside Out, there is a fascinating exploration of a person’s emotional landscape and how we function as emotional beings. In the movie, emotions such as anger, fear, disgust, joy, and sadness are personified, and their interactions with one another are riveting.
The story focuses on the emotions Joy and Sadness in this little girl named Riley. She has to move to San Francisco, leaving behind her friends and the life she’d known.
She does her best to be happy, but because she refuses to acknowledge that she’s sad about certain things in her life, she finds herself acting out in unexpected ways. Her repressed emotions found ways to get expressed, and it was unpredictable and messy.
Feeling sad and lonely can be painful, and there may be many reasons why we find ourselves feeling that way. We can try to paper over how we’re feeling, but sometimes the best thing to do is to simply acknowledge that we are feeling sad and lonely, and to try and understand why we feel that way.
A good first step is to simply feel what you feel – it can be hard, painful, uncomfortable, or any other number of things. If we don’t recognize the reality of our feelings, and we attempt to deny or minimize them, the form of internalized toxic positivity can undermine our emotional and mental health.
Do something physical.
Recognizing what we are feeling is a good first step, but there are other strategies to help you work through your emotions in a healthy manner.
Doing something physical like going for a walk, run, cycle, swim, using the rowing machine, lifting some weights and more can have significant benefits for your emotional and mental health.
Yes, doing something physical that helps you to focus on your body and take your mind off what you’re feeling has value in that respect. But exercise has other, more significant emotional, physical, and mental health benefits.
When you do either aerobic or anaerobic exercise, that triggers the release of neurochemicals that boost your mood. Exercise leaves you feeling good, and that natural high is a healthy way to deal with feeling sad and lonely.
Sometimes a simple change of scenery can be accomplished by just getting out of your house for a walk while looking at the sky, flowers, grass, and the people or pets walking around. This simple act can change your perspective on your situation.
Get out of the house and be around people.
It’s important to do things with other people when you feel sad and lonely. The value of face-to-face human interaction has probably never hit home as hard as it has in these last few years of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns
There’s something irreplaceable about interacting with other people, and that stems from our deeply social nature as human beings created in the image of God. Even if you’re interacting with strangers at the grocery store, the human connection can make all the difference in the world.
So, if you find yourself feeling sad and lonely you can decide to go to a movie, invite a friend for a walk, take your dog out for a run at the park, go play ultimate frisbee or softball, go to the skate park, or join the meeting of a club that explores a passion or hobby of yours.
Being around other people, engaging in a mutual task with them or sharing an experience with others will help alleviate the feelings of isolation and sadness, even if only for a little while.
Immerse yourself in something you love.
Feelings of loneliness and sadness can seemingly empty life of meaning. When you feel these feelings, it’s easy to feel like nothing matters – you don’t matter, life doesn’t matter, there’s no joy in the world. The darkness that these emotions bring can eclipse what you know to be true about yourself and life itself.
However, you can try and push a little against this darkness by introducing some light and a dose of joy. By immersing yourself in the things that you love, such as a good book, your favorite movie, baking, crocheting, your go-to memorable sports game etc., you give yourself an opportunity to feel joy and remind yourself that life is a gift, and it is good.
Call a friend and get support.
Sometimes, those feelings of sadness and loneliness are so intense that it’s good idea if you make sure that you’re not alone. In such instances, be sure to reach out and call a friend, a trusted family member, spiritual leader, or you can reach out to a therapist. These individuals will help you walk through this dark valley you find yourself in, providing you with the support you may need.
With the help of a trained therapist, especially, you’ll have the space you need to process what you’re feeling, unpack what you’re going through and look a little deeper to explore why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. It is important that when you are with your support network, you tell them if you’re having any thoughts about death or self-harm so that you can receive the help you need immediately.
There are many possible reasons behind why someone feels sad and lonely. Those feelings are a normal grief response in the face of loss, and they are to be expected. Additionally, while sadness isn’t the only symptom of a condition such as depression, if your sadness is deep and unrelenting, you should consider that possibility.
Christian counseling for individuals.
You can and should seek out the assistance of a mental health professional who can diagnose whether you may be battling depression, among other things. If you know what lies behind your feelings of sadness and loneliness, you can begin dealing with it.
Sometimes, one’s feelings of sadness and loneliness are overwhelming and unrelenting, and it may feel as though there’s no getting through to the other side or seeing the sun again. Dark days do come, but you should reach out for help immediately if the light is struggling to break in.
Don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or you can text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both of these services are free and available to make use of 24 hours a day and seven days a week. All calls are kept confidential, and you can receive the help you need.
Alternatively, we invite you to contact us to schedule an appointment with me or one of the other licensed counselors at our office. We would be honored to walk with you.
“Mountain River”, Courtesy of Michael Block, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Pink Flowers”, Courtesy of Lukáš Dlutko, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Moth”, Courtesy of David Bartus, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Rainbow”, Courtesy of Matt Hardy, Pexels.com, CC0 License