midlife, personal growth

Heavy Heart, Feeling Sad | 8 Simple Tips to Help

Image of wood with string lights and words lighten up

Heavy heart? Feeling sad? Try these 8 simple tips to lighten your load.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year they tell us.

And although the holidays can be magical and full of love and wonder, it can also be a year-end full of pressure, overwhelm, losses and emotions that can leave us with a heavy heart.

This past week was challenging for me and I found myself needing to yank up my positive-thinking panties a few times to keep my chin up while treading heavy emotions.

It made me think that I’m probably not alone and that you might need a few feel better strategies to help you get centered and enjoy the wonder of the season more fully too.

Here are a few simple tips to lighten up a heavy heart if you’re feeling more pressure, sadness and emotion than magic right now.

1. Let it rip.

Try to force out the reason you’re feeling so heavy in words. Speak them, write them. Tell your partner or a close friend or even just yourself. Write a letter to someone, or to yourself. Send it or rip it up (or ceremonially burn it!).

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” – Anne Frank

The exercise of emotional expression almost always makes us feel better. Even without solutions, putting how we feel into spoken or written words is a start toward lightening our emotional load.

2. Step up your self-care.

The first person you neglect when you feel overwhelmed, or have a heavy heart, is yourself. Not eating well, or sleeping enough, or taking enough mind/body/spirit care of yourself only serves to add to feeling heart-heavy. Lighten up with intentional self-care. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant – even something as simple as going to bed early once or twice a week can help lift your mood and make you a little more able to cope.

3. Be kind.

Seems sappy, but helping others actually helps you. Acts of kindness brighten everything. Find someone who is in a worse situation than you and help them somehow. Or randomly pick a stranger and buy them a coffee or tell them they look beautiful. It could be anything from a small act of kindness to something hugely generous. Be extra kind to someone (unexpectedly) and feel how much lighter your burdens become.

4. Embrace JOMO.

FOMO (fear of missing out) can lead to us feeling sad, frustrated, jealous, inadequate and envious. Turn your fear of missing out to the trending new #JOMO – Joy Of Missing Out. Instead of feeling stressed and heavy about what you’re missing out on, delight in what you can enjoy in its place. Learn to bask in the pleasure of taking a break from social activities to enjoy personal time – or to take care of important tasks or people that depend on you and have value in your life.

5. Look up.

We get so focused on our current circumstances that we can forget to lift our eyes and look ahead. The sun rises again each day. Opportunities are always waiting to be explored. We sometimes suffer failures and losses that leave us feeling alone and in the dark, but out of those experiences we usually gain a lesson.

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Find the light in the lesson. Look up! All things come to pass, and so too will the fresh wound heal and the heaviness you feel lift.

6. Go outside.

Seems so simple, but we can get closed in with our thoughts and feelings swirling in a tight and constricting circle. Disconnect and leave your devices inside! Stepping outside to take a breath of fresh air, to look around and get connected with the world that hasn’t stopped turning and evolving even though our heart feels weighed down.

“Allow your heart to tremble in the midst of the experience, gladdened by the simplicity of the moment.” – Christina Feldman, Willem Kuyken, Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom

Going outside can open your eyes, mind and heart to find perspective. Looking at nature, or even just up at the sky that we all have access to, helps us see a little wider than the constricted view that we have to figure all things out. We don’t! (Heart-lifting bonus points if you manage to push yourself to go for a walk or do some form of exercise while you’re out there!)

7. Slow the BLEEP down!

Rushing to shop, cook, prepare, and create perfection for end of year holidays and celebrations is the perfect recipe for a meltdown. Over-doing it at this time of the year leads to exhaustion. And what comes after exhaustion is the heavy feeling of inadequacy. Of not doing enough, having enough, making enough, giving enough… being enough. You are doing the best that you can (even on those days when you feel like your best is the absolute worst.) Slow down. Sit down. Breathe. Consciously stop judging yourself. Make yourself some hot cocoa and toast to simply being alive. It really is that simple.

8. Ground your heart in gratitude.

It may be last on this list, but it’s never least. Heavy feelings and emotions can sometimes blind us to seeing how to lighten up. Remind yourself of the good, the blessings, the wins, the things that are going right even when other parts of our life are going wrong.

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson, writer

Stop taking failure so critically, rejection so personally and challenges so negatively. I guarantee you have twice as many blessings to count as disadvantages. So, get busy being thankful and feel the sadness and heavy emotions lighten.

Cheers to taking care of yourself and finding ways that work for you to lighten up a heavy heart.

Please share comments on what we can add to this list that works for you!  – Marlene


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2 thoughts on “Heavy Heart, Feeling Sad | 8 Simple Tips to Help

  1. This is great! It is a hard time of year…I find I’m on a roller coaster from day to day (or moment to moment)….I’ll be super joyful and feeling generous and festive one minute, then down in the dumps in a flash. I agree that self-care needs to be top-priority! And I just noted to myself the other day that “self-grace” is huge too-because some days it’s ok to crawl under the covers and watch Netflix and eat cookies….and NOT feel guilty or berate myself for it! Then the next day maybe I’m ready for a nice long walk or twenty minutes of yoga. There are no wrong answers.❤️

    1. Absolutely agree! So much pressure (especially at this time of the year) that we put on OURSELVES to feel happy and enthusiastic 24/7. It’s not realistic – and like you said, that’s OK. And btw, the occasional teary meltdown is ok once in a while too. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is on that roller coaster!! Thank you for sharing Leslie! <3

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