Sadness feels gray to me. At times it’s an all-encompassing cloud of dirty cotton batting from which I am unable to emerge. When life brings sadness to my doorstep, it is hard to know how to answer it. Having recently experienced a bout of intense grayness due to the death of my dad, it became necessary to once again acquaint myself with the tried and true strategies. Below are a few thoughts I had…
- Crying. I am a truly ugly cry-er – all blotchy, red and twisted during the cry; all blotchy, red and swollen after. Thankfully, however, in the midst of true grief/sorrow, how it all looks is of very little concern. Crying — do it!
- Don’t forget to eat. Sadness seems to hollow you out and shroud your desire to take care of yourself. Having some basic foodstuffs/comfort foods around is a good idea – chicken noodle soup, saltines, fruit, maybe a meatloaf.
- Invest in some actual facial tissue (Kleenex, etc…). It is much kinder on a frequently tear-stained face and drippy nose. Do not rely on toilet tissue or paper towels – OUCH!
- When you feel like it, talk to someone about your sadness. Regardless of what caused the gray, talking about it can provide some clarity, a release, a sense of not being alone. Situational sadness is one thing. For unremitting sadness that prevents day-to-day functioning in the long-term, do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for additional help (from family doctor, clergy, mental health professional for example).
- Humor! This might seem counter-intuitive, but – HOLY COW – it can make a huge dent in the weight of sorrow. For some reason (and this might just me and probably is) gallows humor can be particularly effective.
- Try to leave your bed, house, yard if at all possible. Sitting in a park, walking around a grocery store or visiting the local zoo and seeing life happen around you can take you out of yourself a little and offer a respite from the true work of taking out the gray.
- If you are a music lover (and even if you aren’t) try turning on some tunes. All types of music genres can be of assistance – to help you cry, give you energy, make you move, to let you know other people have felt as bad as you are feeling now. A perennial favorite of mine is the song below (Hang on Little Tomato by Pink Martini – there is a long musical intro and then the singing starts. It’s nice.).
What to do when you feel like the top of your head is going to blow off and flames shoot out of your eyes, nose and mouth….Hmmm…? Surrendering to the feeling always seems like the easiest route until you factor in consequences. Who wants to have to post bail just for expressing consternation and upset about something? Not me. In an effort to avoid legal entanglements, I have compiled a short list of things to do when anger makes it hard to talk, see or walk straight.
- Do NOT drive … anywhere.
- Talking – for me talking about what has my knickers in such a twist tends to keep me revved up and frothing at the mouth rather than calming me – at least initially. Talking may work well for some in the heat of the moment. I have to wait to talk until I have expended some of the “incredible hulk – type” energy that builds up with a MAD.
- Doing something that requires a moderate level of control can take the edge off. Washing dishes probably isn’t the best option if you’re prone to throwing things. Folding laundry, sweeping the floor, re-arranging furniture (in a good way) and filling bird feeders are all actions that help change my focus; In addition to calming me, these activities give my brain a chance to process the cause of my displeasure and come up with ways to address it that are legal and productive and basic household tasks that are otherwise far down on the to-do list are accomplished. As an aside, watching birds at full feeders is soothing and entertaining.
- Taking a brisk walk – even just around the block – can help put things into perspective.
- When the danger of saying something regrettable has subsided, it is a good idea to talk to someone about what pumped the rage machine into high gear.
Figuring out how to avoid chronic blow-ups (even if the anger isn’t actually expressed outwardly) can go a long way toward a happier life. If that means checking out self-help books from the library, signing up for an anger management class, taking up meditation/prayer or feeding homeless animals in the neighborhood – DO IT. It’s worth it.
It stinks to spend a day feeling blue even if it is nice to feel like I have an excuse to lay around in bed all day listening to audiobooks and binge watching shows on Netflix (and possibly eating a family size box of Little Debbie Nutty Bars). So, in an effort to not be a total slug I have compiled a small list of remedies to “blue”…
- BREATHE (try to do this continuously as it is a BIG help)
- Watch your dog (or anyone’s dog as long as it is not an attack dog trained to rip out the throats of strangers who watch them). Dogs do some hilarious (and sometimes disgusting) things during the course of any given day.
- Come up with as many random punch lines as you can – some jokes are funniest with just the punch line.
- Think about something other than yourself – there is a lot of world outside your head.
- If you can’t stop thinking of yourself, at least find a way to laugh at yourself. No derisive laughing is allowed. Think of the silly junk you do on a daily basis and marvel that you lived to see another day.
- Try to smile…. I know it’s lame, but it’s hard to feel blue when you smile.
- Get out of bed, even if you don’t want to. Get dressed and do SOMETHING…. take a walk, do the dishes, write a novel – just do something…. you don’t even have to comb your hair….
and sometimes the blue feeling will recede slightly or just go away altogether. If not you can go back to bed.