“The way in which people miss their opportunities is melancholy.” – Elizabeth von Arnim

It’s a sad and terrible thing to be engulfed in melancholy. Fortunately, for most of us, such a devastating emotional state is rare and temporary. Anyone who remains lost in sadness for an extended period should seek professional help. Everyone else must find effective ways to overcome melancholy and get on with their lives. This is most important for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that when you’re mired in melancholy, you’ll miss opportunities.

Don’t miss your opportunities because you’ve given in and allowed melancholy to rule you. That’s not only a mistake, but it’s a recipe for continuing emotional pain and a loss of your life’s potential.

I’ve endured some stretches of melancholy and I can say with certainty that it’s no picnic. In my experience, finding a reason to go on was never to the point of hopelessness, but I did take advantage of psychiatric counseling in my early adult years to learn better coping skills. It helped me to identify false beliefs as well as taking inventory of what I was good at. All these years later, these coping skills still help me get over the rough patches when everything seems to go wrong and goals remain elusively far away.

Here are a few tips on banishing melancholy that may prove effective:

  1. Have a goal for the day, today and every day. If the hours seem to stretch out endlessly, it helps to have a goal to tend to. Call it forced diligence or busywork or whatever else, but when you know you need to do something – and there are consequences for not doing it – this zeroes in your concentration on getting it done. There’s less time to dwell on sad thoughts. The list of goals needn’t be lengthy. It’s the fact that you have something you know you want or need to do that motivates you to get started. When you’re busy doing things, there’s less time to mope about.
  2. Acknowledge you feel sad. There’s no point denying your emotions. Put a name to it so you can move on. This self-acknowledgement of melancholy robs it of its power over you and provides a pathway forward. Also recognize that it’s normal to sometimes feel down. There’s nothing wrong with you because you feel sad. Sadness is a temporary (generally) emotion, not a permanent condition.
  3. Just keep going. You’re bound to hit a wall and want to quit at one time or another. Sometimes the reality you experience is that feels like you want to crawl under the covers and completely blank out the world. Now is when you must call on your strength and determination. Keep doing what you have on your agenda, giving it your best effort. This will pay off in a sense of accomplishment, always a good thing when you’re working to leave melancholy behind and get on with your life.
  4. Keep your eyes and mind open. Opportunities require that you recognize them when they appear and believe yourself capable of taking advantage of them. If you have a closed mind, you’ll never see them. Don’t miss your opportunities because you’re blinded to them. Look, see and envision what you can do. Then, go from there. Success builds upon success. It also opens new opportunities for continued progress.
  5. Ask for help if you need it. There’s never been and never will be any harm to asking for help when things become overwhelming. It may not be that you need professional counseling, however. You might just need a friendly interaction or talking with a trusted friend. Be with others when you’re working on overcoming sadness.
  6. Recognize that this feeling isn’t forever. While it doesn’t feel like it now, you must learn to believe that your sadness will dissipate over time. And you also must be patient. By recognizing that this feeling won’t persist indefinitely, you’ll be more motivated to press forward.