what to do when you're sad

“Sadness does not sink a person. It’s the energy that one spends trying to avoid sadness that does.”


So what do you do when you are sad?


[1.] I admit it.


It’s culturally hip these days to suggest positive thinking: “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” But in fact, studies show that those who suppress emotions of sadness actually fester unhealthy habits like overeating and a strong stress response. Negative emotions can actually countermand our rational thinking. But sadness can also have its benefits. The only way to discover the upside of life is to have walked the downside a time or two. To move forward, we must acknowledge something made us sad. Something was lost, disappointing or even hurtful. It happened. We can’t put on happy all the time by faking some sort of brave, tough face. But we, in fact, diminish ourselves, our emotions and our experiences by denying the reality of sadness. What sadness knows is that she is only part of a greater plot with a happy ending. The challenge for me is accepting that and finding the courage to finish the story.


[2.] I phone a friend.


Being sad is common, but not always socially acceptable. I mean who wants to be that girl? My friend, Courtney, says buried feelings don’t die. And she is right. One of the best things I can do when I am feeling low is totally counter-intuitive: practice that courage again. But this time by reaching out. Phoning a friend and sharing sad emotions is key for me. But don’t call just any friend. You have to dial your 3:00 AM friend.


I wish these girls were common, but sadly (pun intended) they are not. The 3:00 AM friend is compassionate. What other kind of person would even take your call in the middle of the night? This person is deeply rooted in love and has a grace reserved just for you–an allowance set aside with your name on it. She embraces both your strengths and your weaknesses. She empathizes in your hurt. She cheers you on in your doubt. My sadness encounters hope when I drop a dime on a 3:00 AM friend.

[3.] I dive into truth.

And I saved the best for last. Sadness can become overwhelming when my negative self-talk goes from a whisper to a shout. The only way I have found to successfully combat the din of discouragement in my head is to dive into God’s word.


I say: It’s impossible. God says: “All things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)

I say: I can’t keep going. God says: “My grace is sufficient.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I say: I can’t handle it. God says: “You can do all things through Christ.” (Philippians 4:13)

I say: I’m not capable. God says: “I am able.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

I say: This just isn’t worth it. God says: “It will be worth it all.” (Romans 8:28)

I say: I’m afraid. God says: “Do not fear, I am with you.” (Joshua 1:9)

I say: I feel alone. God says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

God whispers to us in our pleasure, but he shouts to us in our pain. ~ C.S. Lewis

Feeling sad?


Me, too. So I invite you to join me in my Significant Sisterhood.

It’s a group of ladies I created online that are courageous enough to admit when things are good and things are bad. In this group we are cultivating rich relationships and perhaps you too could find a 3:00 AM friend. The foundation of this sisterhood is God’s word. So you will be quick to discover His truth about you. Join here and please share this hope with another sister who might need you to hold her sad.