The Weird Activity That Instantly Lifts Your Mood If You're Down In The Dumps

Sometimes a song can say something better than anyone in your life can.

woman listening to music maxbelchenko/ Shutterstock

For as long as I can remember, my go-to when I'm sad or lonely is sad music.

Some people don't understand why I do this.

My mother, especially after my first heartbreak in college that involved weeks and weeks of desperately sad songs on repeat, would try to get me to listen to something happy; something with some "pep," she would say.

"I don't do pep" was always my response, because when I'm sad, I just don't. For me, there is no greater comfort when I'm miserable like drowning in the sorrow of someone else's sad words. There's an undeniable sense of camaraderie to it; like the singer has been there and totally gets it. You feel less alone somehow.


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But when you're down in the dumps, listening to sad music may actually be the key to figuring out how to deal with loneliness and sadness in the wake of heartbreak.

A 2014 study out of the Free University of Berlin found that, yes, it's the sad music that can make your sadness less sad — if that makes sense. The researchers found that listening to sad music when you're sad is emotionally good for you, as it provides "consolation as well as regulating negative moods and emotions."

In fact, there are four specific rewards that come with "music-evoked sadness": reward of imagination, emotion regulation, empathy, and no "real-life" implications; these actually aid in the listener feeling better, less alone, and even peaceful. Sounds good to me.


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Happy music will always have its place. For example, getting ready to go to work (because how else are you supposed to get there every morning without quitting?) or working out at the gym (because how else are you supposed to not cry on the treadmill?), but when it comes to emotions it's the sad stuff that’s the good stuff.

One shouldn't worry about dipping into an even greater misery by indulging in sad music, because it really is going to make you feel more complete and whole, as if the pieces have been put back in place.

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In the study’s final conclusions, those who most benefited from and appreciate sad songs are those who exhibit higher empathy and lower emotional stability on a daily basis. Basically, it means those people who are sort of fragile, to begin with, are the ones who can really get the most out of getting their sadness onto a stack of Bon Iver records.

So, the next time you're feeling down in the dumps as if the world is going to end at any moment, put on the saddest music you have. Cry your eyes out and commiserate with the singer. In a matter of moments, you'll find yourself lift up to a place where sadness still dwells, but just not as darkly.

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Amanda Chatel has been a sexual wellness and relationship journalist for over a decade. Her work has been featured in Glamour, Shape, Self, and other outlets.