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Feel sad and alone? The anecdote may surprise you!

There is so much focus on how to be happy and the importance of social connection these days, but sadness and loneliness are part of the human experience. Some might think that if you are sad then the only anecdotes are positive thoughts and behaviours that will improve your mood.

Turns out that letting yourself wallow a bit in sadness can actually be a pathway to feeling better and feeling socially connected, even if you are by yourself. One of the best ways to do this is through music.

Many of us already use happy, upbeat music to help us improve our mood, and increase our motivation and energy and it can be effective. But have you noticed times when you feel more comforted by indulging yourself in melancholy tunes? Sometimes it feels just like a cozy, warm blanket, doesn’t it? This desire to wallow in it does account for why country music and ‘the Blues’ are such popular genres of music.

But isn’t listening to sad songs going to make us feel worse?

A recent study looked at how music affects our mood, particularly when we feel sad and lonely, and the results were surprising! Not only do we feel comforted by listening to sad songs, but it can have a positive effect on our mood, sense of well-being and connectedness. The study found that sad music led more frequently to pleasurable feelings of nostalgia, peacefulness and tenderness than sadness, and resulted in regulation of negative mood states and feelings of consolation. Sad songs also led to increased empathy which did not occur when listening to happy songs.

Elton John

So you have options when you are feeling sad and alone. You can seek pleasant experiences, spend time with friends, read inspirational quotes and listen to cheerful music; or you could spend time on your own and soothe yourself through the healing power of sad songs. Here are 20 songs to add to your playlist:

1. The Verve ‘Sonnet

2. REM ‘Everybody Hurts

3. Pete Murray ‘Better Days

4. Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Under the bridge

5. Powderfinger ‘These Days

6. Snow Patrol ‘Chasing Cars

7. Tracy Chapman ‘At this point in my life

8. The Cure ‘The last day of summer

9. The Eurythmics ‘Here comes the rain again

10. Eric Carmen ‘All by Myself

11. Tame Impala ‘Solitude is Bliss

13. Sting ‘Fragile

14. Kasey Chambers ‘Not Pretty Enough

15. Samuel Barber ‘Adagio for Strings, Op. 11’ (song from Platoon)

16. David Bowie ‘Conversation piece

17. Chris Isaak ‘Blue Moon

18. Frou Frou ‘Let Go

19. Regina Spektor ‘Eet

20. Radiohead ‘Fake Plastic Trees'

*Remember, if you are feeling depressed, seek medical and psychological support especially if it lasts for more than two weeks, leads to significant changes in your life and wellbeing, and/or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

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