Where To Turn When You’re Feeling Sad
By: Robert Porter
Updated November 16, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Chante’ Gamby, LCSW
We all feel sad at times, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you have depression or are on the road toward depression. But, it can still be difficult to deal with feelings of sadness. The important thing is that you understand where those feelings stem from. Depending on why you feel sad, you may need to turn inward and take a look at your life; you may need to turn to your support group of friends and family; or, you may benefit from reaching out to a mental health professional trained in techniques for coping with sadness in its various forms.
Sadness is an emotion, and like other emotions, it can come and go quickly. Sadness based on a specific situation may go away once the situation is resolved or over with. Other types of sadness may linger, such as sadness caused by loss and grief. Sadness about life circumstances that are not going as you hoped can also cause longer-lasting sadness.
When sadness is of the shorter-lived variety, there are some simple steps you can take to feel happier more often. The first thing to do is to acknowledge that you will not always feel happy. Once you can accept that sadness happens, it is happening, and it will happen again, you can let it go more easily. You can accept it as a normal part of living. Of course, practicing this tip will not make you happy all the time, but it can help you to deal with your feelings of sadness so that you don't develop a more chronic problem like depression or anxiety.
Another part of this technique is to accept that you cannot change some things. Thus, if you cannot change them, then it does you no good to continue dwelling on them as it only contributes to your sadness. That only leads to more suffering for you. For instance, if you are sad about a relationship that has ended, remind yourself that you have no control over what another person feels. You cannot change whether they want to continue the relationship. You only have control over your actions and how you respond when or if you come into contact with the other person.
It's important to note that accepting that you can't change some things is not the same as giving up and treating every situation as hopeless. It simply means understanding which parts of the situation are under your control. Your own thoughts and actions are always yours to control. For an example of how this might be put into action, consider the above scenario that your partner is considering ending or has ended the relationship. Hassling the other person with constant phone calls or texts in order to force them to change their mind is not going to work because you don't have control over their actions. But, you do have control over your own, and you can choose to continue treating them with respect and dignity. It's fine to be honest about your desire to continue the relationship, but you need to temper your expectations.
Choosing to treat the other person well despite the circumstances may not change the eventual outcome, but it can certainly make the situation easier for each of you. It will create less drama for you to anguish over later.
Why Do I Feel Sad?
Let's look a little deeper at the kinds of sadness we may experience. It's okay to admit to others and to yourself that you are sad. Shoving the sadness away and trying to ignore it usually does not work to make you feel better, and it only makes it more difficult to deal with sad feelings that arise in the future. Instead, you need to find ways to face your sadness and its cause.
Feeling Sad For No Reason
Sometimes short-term sadness does not have a cause, or at least not one that we can easily identify. With some inner searching, which meditation can help with, you may be able to pinpoint the underlying cause of your feeling sad. If you're not accustomed to meditation, other activities that help to destress your mind can also help you think more clearly about your emotions. You can try taking a walk, drawing, or coloring. If you still have no reason for your sadness, that's okay. What's important is that you are able to accept that you feel sad. Not knowing why does not negate how you feel. When your sadness has no immediate cause, the best thing you can do is work to reduce your stress, get enough sleep, and do something to break up the monotony of your routine if you are bored. Sometimes, your mind just needs to be refreshed.
Knowing the Cause of Sadness Feelings
Another type of sadness is when you know that something negative has happened in your life, like the loss of a job or another unwanted change. The problem with dealing with this kind of sadness is often that even though you know the cause, you don't have control over changing the situation. If your pet dies, you can't bring it back. In these cases, you may simply have to allow yourself to process the sad feelings.
You may have to allow yourself to simply be sad for a while. If you have a good support group of friends and family, they should be understanding that something unfortunate has happened to you, and you need time to heal before you feel better. Talking about your sadness may help. When you don't feel like those close to you understand, you can turn to a professional therapist for help in processing your feelings. Sometimes, there may even be more than one cause of your sadness. When negative feelings pile up, it can make it harder to shake them. It is possible to make yourself emotionally stronger by practicing self-care that makes you happier, though.
How to Stop Feeling Sad
If you're struggling with sadness, there are different techniques and things you can to do be happy. Below are some terms you can search for online to find ways of coping with sadness:
- How do you relieve sadness?
- Ways to deal with sadness
- Tips on overcoming sadness
- How to stop feeling sad
- Natural ways to stop sadness
- Why am I sad and what can I do?
You have lots of options for helping yourself feel better when you're experiencing sadness. You may need to use different strategies for different situations, depending on why you are currently feeling sad. These suggestions should help you find some ways to get back to a happier state:
Know Yourself and Your Values
To develop enduring happiness in your life, you need to know what is important to you. It's about thinking about what kind of person you ultimately want to be. Goals may help you get there, but they are not the underlying values. Do you value family? Hard work? Art? Freedom? Fitness? Knowing who you want to help keep your mind focused on the important aspects of your life. Knowing that your values are the same, despite sad events, helps you keep going and find your happiness because you know who you are.
Meditation is proven to increase happiness levels and decrease sadness. By meditating on your values, you can keep your life in line with who you want to be. Remember that deep happiness is found within the self, not from others. Meditation also teaches you to let go of troubling or distracting thoughts. Not dwelling on the negative will help you feel better more of the time. Learning to avoid distractions will also help you in meeting the goals that are aligned with your value system. Meditation aids in developing mindfulness. When you are being mindful, you can catch yourself when you are focusing your thoughts on the negative and turn your thoughts to more positive aspects of your life.
Invest Yourself in Friendships
Even though happiness comes from within, all of us need other human relationships in our lives. Don't wait for your friends to contact you. Reach out and see how they are doing. A friendship shouldn't be only about what you get from it. You will get more when you are also giving to the relationships you have with your friends, and that is why you need to know who you are first. You can only give yourself if you know what you have to give.
If you don't have a strong friend group, you may want to consider building one. Don't rush it.
It's okay to be choosy about who you spend your time with. After all, we often become like the people we spend the most time with. The best way to form friendships is to be interested in the other person's values. Find people who hold the same things important as you do. Start by getting out of the house and going places where groups of people will be, who are interested in the activities you enjoy. This could be painting classes, reading groups, concerts, or anything else that relates to your interests.
Keep Your Body Healthy
Mental health does not come from some magical invisible space. Your mind is also a part of your body, and it needs nourishment and oxygen, just like the rest of you. In fact, one of the best things you can do to take care of your mental health is to take care of your physical health. All the processes in your brain need good nutrition from healthy eating. Also, exercise pumps more oxygen into your brain, which is absolutely necessary for its proper functioning.
In addition to that, you will feel better when your body feels its best. Taking care of your body gives you more energy to do the things that make you happy. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain, supporting feelings of happiness and satisfaction with your life. You also should not underestimate the boost to your confidence and self-image when you know your body looks its best. This does not mean trying to look perfect because there is no such thing. All of our bodies are different, but taking care of health, fitness, and hygiene allows us to appreciate the beauty each of us has.
Learn to be Alone Happily
Do you find that you feel sad every time you don't have someone else with you? Feeling happy while alone is a necessary skill for all people to learn. It doesn't mean you have to prefer being alone if you are a people person. However, knowing yourself and being comfortable with yourself is an important step in forming healthy friendships and relationships. When you are alone, take that time to discover and practice the things you enjoy most.
Laughter and smiling can actually trigger your brain to feel happier. When you're feeling down, listen to your favorite comedian, read a funny story, or watch a silly movie. It's healthy to laugh regularly. If you have a funny friend, make it a point to spend more time with them. They'll probably enjoy having someone to laugh with too.
I'm Feeling Sad or I'm Depressed?
It can be difficult to tell when sadness feelings evolve into a bout of depression. Depression can be caused by various aspects of mental health, and it also can be caused by a trigger that starts as normal sadness. But typically, sadness that affects your daily functioning for more than a few weeks should be treated as possible depression. Only a mental health professional can formally diagnose depression, and it's a good idea to see someone for diagnosis if your sadness is causing problems for several weeks or more. Signs of depression include the inability to eat, inability to sleep, and inability to enjoy activities you previously enjoyed. Depression can quickly lead to other health problems. Some secondary conditions related to depression include:
- Heart disease.
- Bone loss.
- Eating disorders.
- Generally weakened immune system.
Sometimes, depression is caused by an event that you would normally be able to cope with. If you suspect you have depression, do not judge yourself for your inability to cope. The condition is often a result of your coping abilities gradually breaking down because of cumulative stress. Unlike short-term bouts of sadness, either with or without a direct cause, depression may not go away with processing time and self-care. You should seek medical treatment for depression, in order to prevent worsening health.
Preventing a Downward Spiral
On the days when you wake up feeling like doing nothing, it can be easy to let sadness strengthen its hold over you and sap your energy. But, it's on those days that it is actually most important to get up and get yourself moving. How do you do that when you have no motivation because you are feeling sad? The best thing to do is to establish a daily routine.
How to Not Feel Sad by Establishing a Routine
Having a routine does not have to mean having no free time in your day. It means planning ahead about when that free time will be. The early part of your routine is most important because it is the things you do when you first get out of bed. That is the time when sadness can often make you want to just lay there and do nothing. Unfortunately, inaction usually makes you feel even worse because, then, you feel like you have wasted your time.
A way to get past this feeling and lack of motivation is to have an established morning routine that makes you feel good. Use your wake up time to do a few things just for you. This can be enjoying a hot cup of coffee before work, working out so you feel good about yourself, meditating, or writing. You may also find that doing something nice for someone else first thing in the morning is good motivation. You could make it a point to send a good morning text to a friend every day and see how they are doing.
If you are in an intimate relationship, you could bring coffee for your partner or leave them a nice note where they will see it. Making these things a part of your routine gives you a reason to get out of bed and get moving, and they start your day by making progress towards your goals and values, whether that's fitness, creativity, a good romantic relationship, or otherwise.
A routine can help you break bad habits, even the habit of feeling sad for no reason. When you have your day scheduled to include the things that are priorities, you have less time to ruminate about negative feelings. Basically, by establishing new good habits, you push out the bad habits from your day. If you seem to have trouble keeping your sadness at bay, setting a routine may help.
Seek Professional Help
Have you tried utilizing the tips here for how to stop feeling sad, like meditating, investing in your friendships and your health, and setting a routine that aligns with your values, but you still seem to feel sad often? Or do you feel sad for weeks at a time? You may want to talk to a professional therapist to rule out depression and find strategies that work for you to feel happy more often. These professionals have helped so many people that are dealing with the same type of problems. You can count on these trained, online therapists to work with you extensively. They can help you to process your sadness in a healthy way. You'll also be able to learn how to better cope with these feelings. Going through bouts of sadness by yourself is never necessary when you can turn to online therapists whenever you're in need. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Christina and I have been working together for 9 months or so now. She uses her expertise and ability to focus our sessions with helpful material and exercises. I really feel and think so differently now thanks to her help and support. I was feeling pretty depressed and sad when we started - I love Christina's holistic approach and she draws on various reputable resources to help convey ideas and concepts. The changes I have been able to make in my mental health and well-being are noticeable to me and my family. Christina is able to hone in to the possible root causes and offers suggestions for the direction to go in with our sessions - she lays out a map and paths and works with me on how to get from point A to B. Many thanks!"
"Rachael is OUTSTANDING. This is my first experience with counseling/therapy and she's made it something I didn't realize I would enjoy so much. I always feel more confident and planned out after we talk. She helps me build realistic goals and checkpoints to help me get there. I never have to feel embarrassed about what I say (or if I'm crying the whole time!). She feels like my smartest, most helpful friend who gives the very best advice by aiding me in finding my own solutions. 10/10 would recommend!"
Now that you've read more about sadness, you should have a greater understanding of where you can turn when you need help. Talking to online therapists can make a big difference. You'll also have many other things that you can try in order to get yourself back to feeling happy. Sadness is a normal emotion and you'll be able to smile or laugh again soon enough. Take the first step today.