How To Be Sad by Helen Russell

4.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

In this perfect Instagrammable life that we are supposed to be leading, there is no space for boredom or sadness. These things do not fit in the busy lives of influencers and celebrities and they expect us to follow their lead. Not only are we not allowed to be sad now, but people are scared of this emotion and seem to want to do every to protect themselves and their loved ones from experiencing it. Only the visible outpouring of grief for celebrities that we have never met seems to be acceptable forms of emotion.

But being sad is just a normal emotion it shouldn’t be something that we push to one side in the hope that it will go away and we can carry on as before. In this book, Russell thinks that we should fully embrace it, learn what is happening to us when we are sad and the best ways of getting through it and out the other side. She has had plenty of time to be sad in her life, details of which she expands on in the book. Sometimes her sadness leads onto moments of depression and other illnesses.

There are lots of things out there to help us when we are suffering from moments of sadness the music to choose, the places to go, apps that can help when you are at your lowest ebb and the buddy system so you can have a person to lean on as and when you need it. There is even a recommendation for reading fiction when sad, and if you can’t bring yourself to pick up a book then an audiobook can have the same effect. Getting out of the home can be a big help too, either for a walk or if feeling particularly brave cold water swimming.

I thought that was a really well-considered and researched book that Russell has written about the subject of sadness. I feel that she is spot on with her conclusion that the pursuit of happiness and the perfect ‘Instagram’ life is causing so many problems, especially when people have those times in their lives that don’t conform to their expectations. Even though she has written this book to help you, it doesn’t feel like a self-help book. She is not preachy but guides with humour her experiences about how to be sad and how to get through it in a positive way. The advice is sensible and more importantly achievable and she details how that will help us to appreciate the happier times much more. Well worth reading.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    This does sound good. I’ve had some sad times recently around things happening to friends, and I’ve found talking it through with a friend while outside running or walking has really helped. Fortunately I’m old (and contrary?) enough not to be too affected by the need to perform happy perfection, but it is a real problem for people I know.

    • Paul

      I cannot abide perfectionism, it is an unachievable goal that people set themselves and then inflict all sorts of mental harm if they fail to reach it. Talking about things is something that I never do to anybody. Ever.

      • Liz Dexter

        Goodness! Each to their own, though, and we do what helps us personally.

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