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What to Do When You Feel Sad, Afraid, Angry or Alone

We are bombarded with platitudes and motivational messages about happiness, positivity and gratitude every day. But what do you do when life isn’t happy, fun or joyful? 

I have experienced many colorless and flightless feelings over these past two months leaving me feeling deep sadness, frustration, grief and even anger. While I know life will resume at some point in the future, this pandemic has changed me forever, and I suspect it’s changed many of you too.

After being in business for over 25 years, I never thought I’d be forbidden to host live events. I never imagined that my life’s work would fall away in just a few weeks’ time. I never anticipated having to  reduce employees hours or cut pay in a matter of days to keep the “doors” open. My team has become more like family, making these difficult decisions even more painful.  I never planned on working MORE hours and managing MORE stress in these later years. And all of this makes me angry. 

My experience is not unique. There are many here among us who feel the way I do but may not be sharing their feelings because we have all become too comfortable with “appearances” and “fitting in” with the mass messaging that tells us to be happy and not to worry. 

This is where I find myself and I know I am not alone because of the emails we receive from people like Paula, who are still on the “front lines” and shared her experience:

Our jobs have become WAY more stressful than ever before. There are ramped up sanitation and social distancing protocols that must be attended to constantly. The guidelines that allow us to stay “open” carry the weight of the world in them. (In other words, we are doing all the tasks we always did–with a LOT more added on top– that are VERY serious.) And there is the stress of knowing that “missing anything” might get someone sick. I wonder if others take into account the kind of pressure that puts on the average Joe/Josephine at the local bank, grocery store, and gas station. Plus, we are often working short handed due to call offs or people sent home out of an abundance of caution. In addition to the stress of carrying TONS of responsibility, we carry lots of FEAR– of the very people we are serving, of the fact that we are out in public at all, of the fact that we may be exposing ourselves by NOT staying in our homes right now. 

There are many of us who have not had “down time” or the safety of quarantining at home during this pandemic. What we have experienced instead is more work and more responsibilities placed upon us. There are many of us who took on larger roles, worked longer hours and risked getting sick, or exposing someone, every single day. 

If you are one of many, like Paula, continuing to work with the public, pushing through long and hard days with more responsibilities, feeling the weight of pivoting in business to make sure you can continue to pay your employees, I want you to know, we acknowledge you, we appreciate you and we are thankful for all you are doing and risking each day

And most importantly, we want you to know, it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel a deep sadness, frustration, fear, grief and even anger. In fact, my hope is that you are acknowledging and feeling these emotions because it is healthier to feel and share than to numb, hide or deny those feelings

So, what do I do when I feel sad, alone, afraid, frustrated, or angry? 

I acknowledge how I feel and bravely admit these feelings to myself and with the people in my life who I trust. I give myself permission to feel deeply and express those feelings in healthy ways. Whether it’s crying, sharing, admitting the truth or taking my anger out on a pillow, I allow myself to let what I feel rise and release

The truth is, many of us are worried, are afraid and are unsure of what lies ahead. And that’s okay. My hope is that this pandemic will help us share more openly and honestly about how we feel and what’s really going on in our lives so we realize we are not alone. If we can learn to listen without shaming and without passing judgment, we can be more compassionate, more empathetic and more honest with each other. When we listen, we hear beyond words and see beyond appearances; we hear the beating heart and see the light of the soul in each of us. 

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