3 things I do when I’m discouraged + sad

It’s been quite the week hasn’t it? Regardless your political bent, the whole world has been watching this election. It’s one for the history books.

And like my friend Emily says, I’m not here to tell you how you should feel. But you’re allowed to feel how you feel, and to acknowledge it as a real thing.

The results make it plain that we are deeply divided as a people, and that alone is cause for mourning.

Here’s my tendency when I’m sad—and I think it’s a valid form of the grieving process:

1. I let myself be sad. I don’t try to push it away, because it will show up eventually, and the more I deny its presence, the more it will fester. I sit in sadness, and let it do its thing.

2. I focus on others. There’s someone else around me who could use something—encouragement, a compliment, a donut. I try to reach out.

3. I roll up my sleeves and get to work. I get back to my homefront, I take care of my people, I do the work in front of me, I read books, I go on walks, and I ask, What’s my role in light of this [fill in the blank moment]?

Here’s how this looked for me:

Yesterday, I admitted that I was sad about our divided country. I cried, and I made a playlist. I had it on repeat all day.

Then, I went grocery shopping and bought soup ingredients to make for our new neighbors. And I donated to an organization I love. My soul needed to do these things.

coffee shop

And then, I went on a walk. I got coffee at my new favorite place down my street, and I talked to the sweet employee who always remembers my name (sorta) and we talked about our grief.

Then I folded socks, swept the floors, and listened to the kids talk about their days at school on the way from picking them up. And I focused on all their little, detailed stories, as best I could.

I stayed focused on my real life, here and now.

Friends? I’m grateful for you here. Continue to be kind to yourself, and to your neighbors—for awhile now. We’re tender. And we’re so ready to get back to the work of caring for our families, loving our neighbors, and doing the everyday things that make our daily lives sacred and precious.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
-Annie Dillard

Have a good day,
again and again.

If you feel in your bones the need to simplify so you can live the life you're meant to live...

↓ This is for you.

43 Comments

  1. Pamela

    Yep, yesterday was a hard day for me too. I’m so sad that our country is so divided and that the beliefs I hold are so scary and offensive to others.

    Anyway, I started a list yesterday of little ways I can make the world better in my circle of influence. I have a toddler and not a ton of money, plus I work full time so there are constraints on what I can do. However, I can do *something*. I gave my extra change at Goodwill back to their jobs program. I signed up for Amazon smile so part of our purchases will go to a local food bank. I talked to my husband about a plan for Christmas giving. I made a plan for how I’ll spend January 20 with my little girl – a trip to the library, ice cream, an art project, and (during naptime!) a flurry of letter-writing to our soldiers and elected officials. I put up a “keep calm and carry on” sign in my cube at work. I breathe. It will be ok.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Love all this, Pamela!

  2. Megan

    Great suggestions! Love the playlist, too!
    We will just have to love more radically and be more boldly hospitable.

    • Laura

      Yes, the playlist has been helpful to me! Thanks

      • Tsh Oxenreider

        I’m so glad! Music is a balm to me.

  3. kelli @ eatprayreadlove.com

    Such good words. I find, too, that doing something for someone almost always helps alleviate my sadness/stress/self-pity/whatever. Looking forward to the videos!

  4. Kimberly Knowle-Zeller

    Thank you. And Amen. I’ve been immersing myself in life. Walks with my family. Cooking. Gardening. And this afternoon spent time at the park with someone I know voted differently than me. We talked about our kids and church; I’m remembering that we’re in this together.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      We are all in this together, indeed. On all sides. Thanks, Kimberly.

  5. Lindsay

    Thank you for the playlist and helpful action steps. I needed small things to do yesterday to help settle my heart. My family is thinking of ways we can give this holiday season that intentionally show love to those who’ve been most hurt this week.

  6. Caroline

    Grateful to you for this. Simplicity and kindness — we all need them so much these days.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Amen and amen.

  7. Kristien

    This is the first time I have visited this blog which was mentioned in an email from Becoming Minimalist. And it solidified my belief that when we are at our lowest, the universe will present us with what we need. I took the news of our election badly. I’ve gone through many elections and my candidate has sometimes lost. But I have never felt the despondency that I felt when greeted with Wednesday’s news. It was like receiving a bad diagnosis and feeling that there is nothing you can do about it. And I thought I was alone in this feeling. I figured people were disappointed, but despondent like me? The feeling confused me. So thank you for reaching out and offering practical ways to shake this funk. And I am delighted to have found your blog. Serendipity!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      From my perspective, Tuesday was not about a losing or a winning side—it was about much, much deeper stuff that relates to our core being, our souls. It exposed places in our country that need deep, deep healing (on both sides).

      I agree; this is different than a regular election.

      People of all walks of life are welcome here, so I’m glad you’re here, Kristien!

  8. June

    I’m a Trump supporter so I guess I’ll unsubscribe you. I’m no longer going to be made to feel stupid for being a republucan. Enjoy your time together!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Hmm…. Well, you’re certainly welcome to, but I did make the point that my deep sadness comes from our divided country, which is true no matter whose perspective. I never mentioned Trump, though yes, I’m not happy he’s president.

      Thanks for reading when you did, and may I encourage you to consider keeping different perspectives and voices in your life—they might challenge and encourage you in surprising ways. I know that’s been the case in my life.

      Be well!

      • kim

        I have, with great sadness, unsubscribed in the last couple of days from some sites that I have read and commented on for a long time. And it had absolutely nothing to do with who the people on those sites voted for. I unsubscribed because I was appalled at the name calling and mud slinging, the insults being thrown about, the anger and rage and wishes for retribution to visited upon people of the other party, the ugliness and venomous words being vomited out onto the page…… I was stunned and shocked as I looked in disbelief at what people were saying about one another.

        Everyone who voted for whomever they voted for had one or more valid reasons for doing so in their own minds. But how will we ever know and understand one another’s thoughts if we can’t have civil discourse without the conversation devolving into toddlers slinging toys and potty mouth words at each other? This election has brought a deep, festering wound into the light of day. It won’t be made better for pouring salt and poison into the wound.

        I will be retaining my subscription to your site. Not because of your vote or your political leanings or your party affiliation. I will be retaining my subscription to your site because you are a calm, conciliatory voice amongst a cacophony of voices raised in anger and hate. Anger and hate breed nothing but more of the same. It’s a lose/lose proposition. Listening with an open heart and an open mind breeds, at the very least, understanding if not agreement.

        Thank you for being a calm port in a sea of madness.

        • Tsh Oxenreider

          Thanks for your kind words, Kim; I appreciate it. XO

          (For the record, I’m affiliated with no party, and I don’t feel like my candidate lost. I wasn’t happy with any of our choices. But that’s neither here nor there for this post….)

  9. Tamara

    Thank you so much for sharing those tips for just riding out the sadness and bad feelings. I love your comment that you just let yourself sit in the sadness and let it do it’s thing – cause it will come out eventually anyway! I really needed to hear that today.. so sincerely thank you for sharing your heart!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’re welcome, Tamara. And I usually write the things I need to hear myself, so I’m right there with you. It helps to just admit how you feel, right?

  10. Sheri

    Thanks Tsh, it really does help to read how other people are getting through this week. I’ve been catching up on blogs I’ve subscribed to (since I can’t bear to read the news), and it has been heartwarming to hear the wonderful ways that everyone is supporting each other and thinking of ways to beat back the sadness. And I also had coffee with my neighbor this morning who voted opposite from me, and we just chatted about our kids and the weather and other innocuous topics, and it was good. I think we need to go back to the days when no one discussed politics or religion in polite company! Hugs to everyone!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Coffee with neighbors over lovely topics sounds just about right in this moment. We are indeed all in this together. Thanks for sharing, Sheri.

  11. noreen

    A good reminder of how we spend our days will reflect the life we live.
    I can understand June’s decision in the above comment to unsubscribe since the election results are not favored here. I myself voted for Trump not supported
    ( there is a difference ) and do not regret that decision. I became a reader here on the onset and it wasn’t for political oneness obviously…it was for the very reason I’m still choosing to subscribe, for Simplicity applied to life in order to live more purposely. So hopefully on that note I look forward to more great insight and tips on Simple Living at best!

    • Melinda

      Me too. The election will pass and we will keep on keeping on. I believe we will find that we are less divided than we are led to believe. There is proof of this right here on this site. All of you lovely ladies who have reached out to people who voted differently than you are demonstrating that beautifully. And quickly! Here’s to us!

      • Tsh Oxenreider

        Here’s to us indeed, Melinda! (And I’ve always said the AoS readers are some of the best-of-the-best on the internet.) 😉

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’m most definitely not affiliated with any political party, and all are welcome here. The focus on this post was on our national division, something I think we all agree on is unhealthy and something to mourn.

      Thanks for sharing, Noreen!

  12. Hillary

    These suggestions are nourishing regardless of the outside events – I have down days and weeks when life is out of whack and need to be still in my sadness or disappointment. For me, this last week was a real downer, but big kids and a baby in the house are constant reminders to stay present. It’s a part of living simply, holistically. I also chose the time to dig in to my local community – we are participating in several volunteer activities during the holidays, and my husband and I sat down to adjust our budget to give more to causes we support. It all allowed us to simplify the extraneous and focus in on what matters.
    Hugs to you Tsh.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Great thoughts, Hillary!

  13. Sharon

    Good day all. I have had a similar week of feelings. I’ve been trying to piece it together. It is more than just my side won or lost. I am pretty sure that I would have similar feelings if things went the other way. Listen to Jonathan Haidt TED talk Can a divided America heal? I’m feeling more hopeful and want to be part of a solution. BTW Tsh – I didn’t know your political affiliation until I read the comments. I assumed you were speaking of your sadness in the sense of division — as we are all dealing with this division in our families and neighborhoods.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’m most definitely speaking of the sadness of the division in our country, first and foremost. Absolutely. And while yes, I did not vote for Trump, I’m not affiliated with any political party.

      I’ll check out that TED talk sometime, Sharon! Thanks for the recommendation.

  14. Pat C

    Wow, this has been one of the most emotionally charged elections that I’ve experienced since I started voting 43 years ago. And like others, the candidate I supported (or just voted for by default) hasn’t always won. I think one of the things that makes this one so different is the disgraceful show of mud slinging, which has sunken to a new low that went on during the campaign. The political commercials were deliberately targeting our deepest emotions and exposing the lack of integrity that our country’s highest officials displayed during this vicious campaign. I kept listening hoping to learn some new fact about people who were seeking one of the highest offices in the world, but instead of being informed, I just got more and more discouraged. The day after the election was a dark and gloomy, cold rainy day here in New Jersey and my mood matched the weather. I spent the day with several of my grandsons who had stayed overnight. We talked about the election. They had a lot of questions. I’m grateful that my family is strongly rooted in believing in God. We are praying for our new president. We are hopeful and confident that our God will have the last word and will use everything for His glory. I also pray for our nation to heal and for citizens of this country, including myself, to pay closer attention to current political events everyday, not just right before an election. We also need to cherish the peaceful transition of power in our country. And last, but not least, we get to vote again in 4 short years. God bless America!

  15. Tsh Oxenreider

    Those last 6 sentences of yours, Pat? AMEN. Thank you for this word of encouragement!

  16. Liz M

    Thank you for your gentle words of care and hope, when so much of what is on the internet this month seems raw and ugly. I love the balance of giving yourself (and others) grace to feel real emotions, while looking for what we can do to love others and create a better world. You always have a beautiful, honest way with words.

  17. Carrie M.

    I’m enjoying your timely and wonderful playlist; thanks for sharing it.

  18. Pantherle

    As a German reader, mother and grandmother and Christian I love your playlist. And, yes, we are mourning here about the election. There are only people happy with the election that one can call Nazis. These people feel triumphant to go from victory to victory with all their lies and hate. So my children fear for their future and the future of their children. We are a few teachers in the family, and in our classes there is the same fear and grief. The US-election caused a lot of depression for people in other countries, too. It will have impact for us, too. Your music is balm to my soul. Thank you. Let’s keep on the good work and let love trump hate all over the world.

  19. Emily at The We Files

    Tsh,

    Thank you for this. I couldn’t agree more and have recently written similar sentiments that are coming up on my blog soon. I think it’s important for all of us to individually and collectively decide how we will process and what the moving forward part looks like. It’s taken me a very long time to learn how to work through negative emotions and I know it will be a lifelong process. Best to you!

  20. Tammy

    I needed to read this post today and am thankful for it being here!
    Thank you for all your work! I love the new podcast format and everything you write. I am happy for the part you play in my life! You are appreciated greatly.

  21. stephanie

    As a Canadian, and late to the party, I wonder if it wojld be helpful to reframe- instead of the “divided country”, ( because I don’t think you are… wait!)maybe explore what has contributed to making you feel alienated from certain other groups ? Hint: media really tried hard to make this an US vs them situation. But looking for benefits even under rule you don’t like is helping me not to despair here jn Canada where both fed and provincial politics are the opposite of my heart. And having open hearted dialogue with the other side helps you to see them as people, instead of obstacles. They have reasons for thinking differently than you do. And hearing their reasons sometimes helps….

  22. Stacy Smith-Fulia

    Hello! I tried to sign up for your 3 keys video series and I didn’t see anywhere to sign up! I would LOVE to have it, my e-mail is stacysmith333@gmail.com much thanks tsh, I adore your material and your podcast, its the one I wait for in my inbox!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I apologize; I didn’t realize the post (written a few months ago) still had info about our fall video series. I’m afraid it’s now over, but we’ll do something similar soon! I’ve taken down the info so as to not cause more confusion…. sorry about that.

      Thanks for reading, Stacy!

  23. Nicole

    I am in the same boat as Stacy, above. Tried to sign up but no place to input my info. Would love to watch the video series so let me know what I can do to get the links. Thanks! (ngoffinet@hotmail.com)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I apologize; I didn’t realize the post (written a few months ago) still had info about our fall video series. I’m afraid it’s now over, but we’ll do something similar soon! I’ve taken down the info so as to not cause more confusion…. sorry about that.

      Thanks for reading, Nicole!

  24. Michelle

    Hello! Like Stacy and Nicole, I also tried to find the link to sign up for your 3 keys video series and couldn’t… would love to watch the other videos as well! Please let me know if there’s an alternate way to get them. Thanks in advance! (michelle.dawn.wesley@gmail.com)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I apologize; I didn’t realize the post (written a few months ago) still had info about our fall video series. I’m afraid it’s now over, but we’ll do something similar soon! I’ve taken down the info so as to not cause more confusion…. sorry about that.

      Thanks for reading, Michelle!

Get our weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where we share new stuff from the blog and podcast—that way you’ll never miss a thing. Tsh also shares other goodness from around the web... It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.

(You’ll also get her quick list of her 10 favorite essays and podcast episodes from around here, helping you wade through a decade of content.)