How to Embrace Lightness When Life Feels Heavy

Life can deal us such a heavy hand sometimes. You may feel overwhelmed by the weight of the world. You might worry that things in your personal life will never get better. You may move around with this perpetual sense of dread or angst.

Heaviness is an inherent part of life, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling the gravity of all your emotions. At the same time, chronic heaviness sometimes paves a path for deep loneliness, anxiety, depression, isolation, substance use, and other difficult circumstances.

No matter your current circumstances, it’s still possible to occasionally lean into joy, hope, and light. Here are some ways to do it (even when things feel incredibly bleak).

Focus on What Physically Feels Heavy

Sometimes the heaviness is tangible. The entire house is messy. Your to-do list keeps piling up. Your body feels fatigued and achy.

Targeting these explicit ‘heavy’ sensations can help promote a sense of lightness. Don’t underestimate the benefits of starting really small. For example, maybe you clean one drawer in one room. Or, you check off one task on your to-do list. Note how doing these things changes your energy.

The more you can physically lighten the load, the more emotionally light you may feel.

Add More Physical Light to Your Day

Research consistently shows that spending time outdoors can reduce stress and promote feelings of joy. It can also sharpen your cognition and lower your stress levels.

The point is to try to get sunlight- even when the weather or your mood isn’t ideal. If you’re cooped up inside most of the day for work or other obligations, open the shades and let the light in. Consider planting a few plants in your workspace.

But getting out into nature is your best bet. Even just 10-20 minutes of walking outside can make a difference in how you feel.

Cultivate a Gratitude Practice

It’s hard to access gratitude when everything in life feels chaotic or stressful. But writing down what you appreciate can help put things into perspective. It can also help you focus on what’s going well (even if so many things aren’t going well).

If you’re new to reflecting on gratitude, these activities may help:

Three things: Each night, write down three things that went well that day. It’s okay if these things are small. Even a good cup of coffee or nice weather adds up and helps you note the glimmers of positivity amid rough times.

Gratitude letter: Write a gratitude letter to someone you love. You can either choose to send it to them directly or keep it for yourself as a personal form of acknowledgment.

Focused gratitude breathing: Inhale and think of something you feel grateful for. As you exhale, practice releasing that energy into the universe. Repeat this several times to integrate mindfulness with appreciation.

Spend Time With People Who Promote Joy

Heaviness can be contagious, and the same is true for lightness. If you spend time with joyful people, their good moods may inadvertently rub off on you.

Try to surround yourself with friends and family who bring you a sense of peace. This doesn’t mean you have to conceal how you feel. Instead, it means intentionally engaging with those who make you feel good about yourself.

Heaviness thrives in isolation. When you’re alone, it’s much easier to ruminate over all that feels wrong in life. This can spiral into negative thinking traps or even self-destructive behavior.

Practice Gentle and Joyful Movement

Engaging in physical activity has obvious health benefits, but it can also support more lightness in your life. However, it’s important to deliberately choose activities that make you feel good in your body. If you’re not sure what you enjoy, it may be helpful to wander back to childhood. What about riding your bike, jumping rope, or dancing?

Many people also find that restorative exercises like nature walks, swimming, yoga, tai chi, or basic stretching help promote a sense of relaxation.

The key here is to really listen to your body. You’re moving for the sake of connecting to yourself (rather than to engage in sheer exercise). Somatic exercises can also help release physical feelings of heaviness.

Some basic somatic exercises you can try include:

Breathing into tension: Intentionally breathe deeply into parts of your body that feel heavy, achy, or tense. Visualize your breath bringing spaciousness into those parts. Repeat as often as needed.

Barefoot connection: Stand barefoot on the ground (or sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor). Acknowledge the connection between you and the earth and note the feeling of the heavy ground below you.

Gentle self-massage: Gently massage parts of your body that feel tense or uncomfortable. Note any pleasure or relaxation that comes from your own touch and allow yourself to savor it.

Push against a wall: If you feel angry or overwhelmed, pushing against a wall can offer an important physical release. Push as hard as you can (for as long as you want). Note any shifts you feel physically.

Hold Onto Trusting That Lightness Will Come

No season is permanent, and life constantly evolves. Your mental health also isn’t static. Every moment brings forth new possibilities for change, growth, and healing. The future may have wonderful blessings in store.

This isn’t about holding onto unrealistic standards or toxic positivity. It’s about simply choosing to trust that good things can still happen and that your suffering will not always feel this way.

One silver lining is that moving through heaviness often comes with immense personal growth. Through loss and adversity, we sometimes can create powerful meaning in our lives. We often learn how to be more authentic and vulnerable in how we relate to others.

Practice Self-Compassion

This is a time for rest and self-kindness. While you may feel tempted to push through in moving forward, the reality is that this strategy can backfire. Choosing to connect to your basic needs for safety and stabilization is an important part of self-compassion. Self-compassion entails remembering that everyone experiences hardship and that you are not fully alone in your pain.

Self-compassion also lends a hand to self-care, which can include many components, such as:

  • tuning into your physical needs for food and sleep
  • grounding yourself in a simple routine
  • spending time in hobbies or activities that bring you joy
  • holding onto moments of happiness and peace when they arise
  • engaging in more mindfulness
  • being aware of the power of your inner critic and the role it plays in your past and present

Creatively Harness the Heaviness

Pain opens space for depth, and depth creates opportunities for creativity. You can honor this painful experience by making your emotional states more explicit. Creative expression is for everyone- not just for people who identify as ‘creatives.’

It takes many forms, including:

  • writing about your feelings
  • engaging in art like drawing, painting, or photography
  • vision boards
  • performing arts
  • cooking
  • connecting with other people or animals

The goal here isn’t to “try” to create something meaningful or share it with the outside world. Instead, the goal is to engage your senses and allow yourself to create something that feels authentic. Such expression may not automatically change your mindset. However, it can help define your perspective or instill more purpose as you navigate your emotions.

Therapy for Depression, Grief, and Other Heavy Experiences in Austin, TX

Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes we face challenges that feel too difficult to manage. You don’t have to experience your hardships alone. Therapy can offer a safe environment that provides compassion, hope, and practical strategies intended to help you move through your darkness.

There’s no right or wrong way to feel right now. But if you feel like you’re in a state of stuckness, therapy may help. You will have space to talk about what’s going on in your life, and you can show up with any feelings or needs- it’s truly all welcome.

I would be honored to help you during this tender time. If you’re struggling, I welcome you to reach out today.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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