It’s perfectly normal to be sad now and then, though it doesn’t feel good. We may be sad because we’re facing serious issues. Or, we may just feel “blah” with no apparent reason. Since you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re feeling sad in the absence of any obvious reasons. In other words, you just feel sad, and you wonder why.
There are things you can do to cope with your sad feelings and to feel better. It should go without saying that if you suspect that your unexplained sadness may be the result of one of the illnesses listed above, your top priority should be to address the issue by consulting your primary health care provider.
If you’ve ruled out any obvious reasons for your sadness, you can still do a lot to alleviate the feeling and be happy. Get to the point: What exactly is it that’s bugging you? Are you obsessing? Is your work too demanding? Are you bored? Let’s explore more deeply what may be making you feel sad.
Here are seven common reasons for unexplained sadness:
- Lack of excitement or stimulation.
Simply put, you’re bored. A lack of excitement can make us feel unhappy and stuck in a rut. Having things to anticipate and get excited about practically ensures what’s generally described as “happiness.” If you’re bored, it’s time to find a new challenge. Try to master a new skill, read books, learn something new, or take up a new hobby. Or, put yourself in a new environment in which your senses are more stimulated. Take a trip someplace new. Shake things up, and you’ll start feeling happy again.
You may be surrounded by lots of people, but you feel disconnected from them. It’s possible that as time passes, you’ve developed standards, values, and interests that differ from those of your family and friends. These differences have left you feeling misunderstood and lonely. Or perhaps you desire a life that differs from your current situation, and from most people surrounding you, but you can’t pinpoint how to satiate this craving. This results in acute feelings of pain, longing, and sadness.
You may feel sad even though you have a great career, family, and friends, you live in an interesting place, have engaging hobbies and. Often, the cause of such sadness is a conflict between your personal values and standards and the way you live. Your career may be satisfying, but it may not be what you originally strived for. Or, perhaps you’re internally conflicted over ethical issues related to the work you do. You may own your dream home and sports car and have enough money, but if you’ve always craved simplicity, you may be feeling uncomfortable and guilty with this lifestyle. Whenever we don’t live up to own internal standards, we usually end up feeling low and unhappy.
- Lack of control.
To feel happy, we need some control over our circumstances. While we must accept the reality that we’ll never absolutely control everything that occurs in our lives, we do control things like our leisure time, our career choice, and the ability to make basic choices. Living in a controlled environment where someone else is deciding virtually everything for you, or feeling overwhelmed at work may cause sadness and frustration. Is your spouse loving, but overly controlling? Try talking things out.
Similarly, in some cultures, people are constantly expected to impress others and to obsess over what other people think of them, which can lead to feelings of being controlled and trapped.
- Obsessive thoughts.
Lots of our problems exist simply because we continue to think about them. If you often think about some specific thing that already happened, or about something you expect will happen, you’re probably obsessing over them. Your focus solely on the problem may make you perceive it as much worse than it actually is, and worse, you may begin imagining issues that weren’t even initially there. It’s difficult to just stop doing this, but you must stop. Some people naturally tend to be obsessive. They seem overly introspective, and never appear happy and relaxed. Fighting this tendency is difficult, but it is possible to learn how to shift and focus outside ourselves, and to become interested in other things.
- Lack of natural light.
This may sound strange, but some people are sensitive to the lack of natural light during winter months and tend to stumble into depression during that time of year. Though it’s still a bit of a mystery, it has an official name: seasonal affective disorder. People with SAD feel fine the rest of the year, but become depressed during the darker months of the year. The disorder is also commonly referred to as winter blues, winter depression, and seasonal depression.
- Health issues.
Finally, your sadness may be rooted in a physical or mental health issue you’re not yet aware of. Hormonal changes, hypothyroidism, PMS, bipolar disorder, and clinical depression are some of the more common culprits. If your sadness is overwhelming or you feel sad often, ruling these out first should be your top priority.
In all of these situations, journaling or talking to a trusted friend are good places to start. You may need to make more significant changes in your life to feel better, but remember—these changes shouldn’t have negative effects on important people in your life, such as your spouse, your children, and your close friends. Talking things out with a therapist may also help. A therapist can assist you with defining the core problem, as well as finding a suitable solution for everybody involved.