Sadness is one of the most common and natural emotions. Loss, helplessness, disappointment are among many causes of sadness.
Sadness can be long term, short term or just a day or two when you feel low for no good reason. As long as sadness does not happen often and for extended periods of time, it is a normal emotion.
But when your sadness starts to take over and get in the way of living your life, it could be spiraling into something unhealthy called depression. Depression is a clinical term used to describe an individual’s mood and can only be properly diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional.
It’s hard to make yourself feel positive and happy when you are sad, but know that everyone goes through struggles, challenges, failures and disappointments. Nobody’s life is perfect.
If you start to think that you’ll never push past your sad feelings and be happy again, it’s time to take some steps to help yourself feel better.
There are many things you can do to deal with sadness before it becomes more serious and turns into depression. Here’s how:
- Become aware of your feelings. When you are aware of your emotions, you can better understand and accept yourself. If you feel bad, notice the feeling. Avoid dwelling on it. Just accept that you feel sad and remind yourself that it will pass.
- Identify the triggers. Notice why you feel sad. There’s often a reason behind it. Take note of particular people, places or situations that leave you feeling sad.
Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can start to work through ways to better deal with them.
- Accept things that you cannot change. Know that there are certain things in life that you cannot change. For instance: No matter what you do, you cannot change the past. Instead of worrying about things that you don’t have control over, shift your focus to what you can change and move in that direction.
- Let go of the pain. Nothing lasts forever. Your sad feelings too shall pass. However, you may need to make a conscious effort to let go of the pain and sadness. It won’t necessarily happen overnight, but keep working at it. Make a commitment to let go.
- Change your attitude. Changing your attitude or your perspective toward your pain or suffering can help you let go of the hurts and wounds. By harping on your suffering, you are hurting yourself.
- Let go of grudges. When you hold grudges, you tend to hurt yourself as you are allowing the negativity to get hold of you and keep you stuck in your painful past. Forgive the people who have hurt you. Harboring anger and bitterness will do nothing to change what happened. Getting stuck prevents your emotional growth.
- Face your old wounds. Old negative experiences hold negative beliefs. And these old wounds can get triggered when something or someone reminds you of painful feelings from the past. Revisit these old experiences. Think through what happened, when it happened, who hurt you, what was your reaction, was there something you could have done differently, and what changes are you willing to make to let go of this hurt? Do not run away from the situation, instead face it for once and have the closure you need.
- Do not focus on your sadness. The more you focus on your pain or suffering, the more it will grow and persist. Unless you are working through old wounds or taking other steps to alleviate your sadness, do your best not to think about it constantly.
- Get rid of negative self-talk. When you are low, you generally tend to blame or shame yourself. Monitor your inner critic. Don’t take your negative self-talk seriously when you are sad. Acknowledging your thoughts is fine, but do not believe them.
- Take responsibility for your happiness. Don’t rely on others to make you happy. If you expect others to fill that void and create joy in your life, you will never be satisfied and will be at the mercy of others. Stop depending on others and take control of your emotions. Accept responsibility for your self-worth and happiness.
- Think positively. When you feel sad, think of good things about yourself or your situation. Try to be optimistic and look at the bright side of things.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Be around people who lift you up and help you feel better.
Weed out the negative people who make you feel bad about yourself, drag you down or belittle you. Instead, spend more time with positive and optimistic people and try to create opportunities to get together with them.
- Allow your loved ones to stop you from focusing on sadness. Give your friends and family the freedom to tell you to stop whenever you start talking about your sufferings or sadness. Ask them to distract you and talk about some happy memories. Avoid having the proverbial “pity party.”
- Focus on the present moment. When you are in a sad mood, avoid ruminating about what went wrong in the past and what could go wrong in the future. Practice mindfulness and learn to focus on the present moment.
- Meditate. Meditation teaches you to accept the discomfort of sadness and remain with it. With regular meditation, you become aware of the moment and better able to come up with a constructive and productive way of dealing with sadness.
Meditate on happiness and make it a routine to practice it daily for 20 minutes.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep and mood are interrelated. Healthy sleep can help you feel positive and improve your mood. A good night’s sleep gives your mind a break and can make you less irritable and stressed out. Make sure to get adequate sleep.
- Take care of yourself. Usually when you are low, you tend to stop taking care of yourself. You start sleeping at odd hours, you stop eating or start eating junk food, you’ll watch TV for endless hours and you don’t shower for days. You may not realize it, but by doing so you are pushing yourself into a depressed state of mind.
When you start taking care of yourself, eating healthy and taking care of your appearance, you start looking better and radiating an inner glow that will make you feel better about yourself. Also, bathing and showering helps cleanse your aura. Hence, the more you take care of yourself, the less sadness you will experience.
- Cry your sadness out. Crying helps you vent your sadness, frustration and disappointment. It helps give you relief from negative emotions.
Tears contain stress hormones, hence if you hold back your tears, you are keeping the stress bottled up inside. Crying helps your body get rid of stress hormones.
- Talk to someone you trust. Share your sadness with a friend, mentor, parent, spouse or anyone you trust. It should be someone who will listen to you patiently and offer you good advice and comfort.
Talking about your sadness helps release the emotions you have pent up inside. Keeping things bottled can be unhealthy and contribute to depression. Vent about your problem and let your feelings out to release all the tension that has been building inside you for so long.
- Distract yourself. When you feel you are overthinking, divert your mind and concentrate on something else. Do constructive activities that take your mind off of unnecessary worrying.
- Do things that will put you in a happy mood. You can get over a sad mood simply by doing things that will put you in a happy state. Do things that you love doing, things that you know will make you happy.
- Think about a happy memory. Think of happy moments that make you smile and feel positive. Whether it’s time spent with your family or moments with your friends, happy memories won’t let you feel sad.
- Do nice little things for others to help you feel better. When you do small acts of kindness, it’s like a chemical reaction and you instantly start feeling better. Simple acts like smiling at a stranger, holding a door open for an elderly person or helping someone cross the street can help you forget about your sadness and make you feel better about yourself.
- Get outside. Although this might be a difficult thing to do when you are feeling low, force yourself to go outside. Getting outside and meeting people will help improve your mood. Also, being out in the sun helps your body produce vitamin D, which is often deficient in people who have depression.
- Walk, run or jog. Exercise stimulates production of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Any form of physical activity can help alleviate your sadness.
- Be amidst nature. Getting in touch with nature, plants, birds and animals will change your perspective and help you remember the beauty of life. The fresh air will also be a welcome change for you if you’ve been isolating yourself indoors.
- Unplug from technology. Increased use of technology can raise your stress levels. Being engaged constantly with your mobile phone, laptop or TV drastically diminishes the time you can instead use for relaxation and inactivity. Excessive use of technology can lead to sleep problems and depression. Switching off your electronic devices can help you overcome feelings of sadness and anxiety, as you get a lot more time to spend on yourself and things that matter. This includes social media that can be overwhelming and causes you to compare your life to others.
- Write it down. When you journal your feelings, it helps you get the sadness out of your mind and body. Also, jot down at least five things that you are grateful for every day. Write about anything in the day that made you feel positive and happy. Writing down positive things can lead you to think more positively and help you remember that life is not all bad. Be determined to promote an “attitude of gratitude” in your life.
- Listen to music. An upbeat track or tune can change the vibe and infuse a positive atmosphere around you. Listening to music that makes you happy can instantly improve your mood. Doing so regularly can have a lasting effect.
- Get engrossed in your work. It’s hard to be sad when you are concentrating to meet a deadline or working on a project unrelated to your sadness. Your mind will be diverted and focused in a more productive direction.
- Do something you have never done before. Whether it’s gardening, playing guitar, photography or writing, do something that you have never tried your hands at.
New experiences will get you out of your routine and offer you some new challenges. It will help divert your mind and shift your focus away from your sadness.
- Watch a funny video. Laughter, it has often been said is the best medicine. Watching something funny will help you forget about your sadness. It’s difficult to be sad when you are laughing.
- Eat mood-boosting foods. Enjoy mood-boosting foods like apples, oranges, oats, low-fat cheese, yogurt and dark chocolate. They stimulate production of natural feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Also, eating healthy food like lean proteins, fish, whole grains, vegetables and fruits can help fight depression that has some causal links to diet and poor nutrition. These foods also help raise your energy level, thus making you feel better. Also, eating fatty fish like mackerel, bluefish, wild salmon and tuna as well as drinking green tea can help you combat what could lead to depression.
- Clear out the clutter. The process of cleaning and getting rid of clutter, whether it’s in your closet or your room, can make you feel lighter and better.
- Volunteer. Volunteer at an animal shelter, orphanage, soup kitchen, hospital, old-age home or other community organizations. Helping others and contributing to humanity will make you feel good about yourself. When you are busy making a difference in others’ lives, you won’t have time to think much about your sadness.
- Nothing lasts forever. Reassure that old part of you that is stuck in pain and sadness that everything will turn out to be fine.
- See things from the other person’s perspective. Step into the shoes of the person who hurt you. They might not have known that they were hurting you. They might be acting out from their own old hurts. When you feel compassionate toward them and understand their situation, it will be easier to let go of the hurt.
- Write a forgiveness letter to the person who hurt you. Tell them in the letter that you forgive them and you understand why they behaved in the manner that hurt you. By doing so, you help yourself let go of all the negative energy that you hold on to. When you finish, read it aloud with emotion as if the person is in front of you. Decide later whether you want to send the letter. It’s the process of writing and thinking through forgiveness that helps you the most. You can just throw it away or burn it as a symbol of letting go.
- Make good memories for yourself. Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas when families come together, and expectations are high can be stressful and cause sadness because of all the family pressure. Learn to pace yourself and do what’s comfortable for you. When the holidays are over you can also feel a let down from all the excitement and hustle bustle. Take time to re-energize and reflect on those happy times even if they were long ago.