Where To Turn When You’re Feeling Sad

Updated November 3, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Sadness is a normal human emotion that virtually everyone experiences from time to time. It can also be a complex and diverse feeling with different causes and manifestations from person to person.

Remember that there is support available for you when you’re feeling sad, regardless of the cause.

5 Things To Keep In Mind When You’re Feeling Sad

If you’re currently dealing with feelings of sadness, you’re not alone. Here are five things to remember as you experience this emotion.

1. Some Sadness Is A Normal Part Of The Human Experience

This fact does not make what you’re feeling any less real or valid. In actuality, you may find comfort in the fact that this emotion is essentially a universal one. It’s considered to be a normal reaction to disappointments, hurt, loss, and other situations that many of us experience over the course of our lives. Sometimes, the perspective that this feeling will come up from time to time and that many other people are experiencing it at this very moment can help you get perspective on the situation and feel less alone.

2. Persistent Sadness May Be A Sign of A Mood Disorder

While feeling sad is typically a core symptom of depression, experiencing sadness does not necessarily equate with this mental health condition. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), there are nine key symptoms of depression, and a mental health professional will usually identify at least five before considering a depression diagnosis. Also typically taken into account is how long the feelings of sadness have been going on. The ADAA says that symptoms must last for two weeks or longer and significantly impair a person’s functioning in some way for depression to be a possible cause.

These details are not intended to serve as a tool for self-diagnosis, but rather as information to help you try and differentiate between normal feelings of sadness and persistent feelings that may indicate a mental health condition. If you feel that your sadness has lasted longer or been more debilitating than may be healthy, it might be worthwhile to seek the help of a therapist. It’s important to note, however, that you don’t need to have a mood disorder or a suspected mood disorder to work with a therapist. They can help people with all different types of feelings as a result of all different types of situations. We’ll discuss this more below.

3. People Work Through Emotions Like Sadness Differently

The human experience is broad and diverse, so it follows that sadness won’t look the same in every person. Some people appear relatively stoic on the outside, and may not even pause their routine to process sad feelings. Others are more likely to cry or want to talk it out with a friend. Some people need alone time to work through an emotion like this, while others prefer to throw themselves into work, exercise, or a project to process. Some take a bit longer to recover from a sad situation, while others can often bounce back more quickly. Plus, there are many different types and sources of sadness. There’s the deep grief from loss, the acute disappointment of a missed opportunity, and many, many others in between. People will handle different types of sadness in different ways, and in different amounts of time.

Feeling Sad? You Don't Have To Face It Alone

In other words, any healthy way in which you process sadness is okay. There’s no one right way to do it, or one set timeline for getting through it. The best approach is usually to be patient and gentle with yourself and avoid making yourself feel worse for not handling the situation the same way someone else might.

4. In General, Emotions Are Temporary

Though it’s often hard to remind ourselves of this in the moment, emotions are temporary by their very nature. (An exception, of course, is those who are experiencing prolonged periods of certain emotions like sadness, which may be a symptom of a mood disorder.) They’re called “emotional states” because they come and go over time. The purpose of this point isn’t to invalidate what you feel.

Rather, the knowledge that you won’t always feel this way may help you keep a healthy perspective on any tough emotion you may be experiencing.

You’ve moved through other hard emotional states in your lifetime, and you have the power and ability to do so again.

5. There’s Help Available

Another important fact you may want to remind yourself of during periods of sadness is that there’s support available to help you through difficult times and emotions. Read on for some potential answers to the question: Where can I turn when I’m feeling sad?

Where To Turn When You Feel Sad

Turning to family, friends, and other trusted sources of social support is a common way for people to deal with feelings of sadness. Research has shown that strong social support networks correlate with better psychological and even physical health. For those who lack these avenues of support in their lives, one study found that online friends and connections may be able to play a similar role. If you have connections like these in your life, leaning on them when you’re sad can be a good way to vent, feel supported, and even get advice if needed.

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 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.

Laugh

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.

Am I Feeling Sad Or Am I 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
  • Diabetes
  • 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

Feeling Sad? You Don't Have To Face It Alone

A therapist can also be a valuable resource when you’re sad, regardless of the reason. Whether it’s due to a challenging situation, a mood disorder, or another cause, they can help you get to the root of your emotions and equip you with strategies to manage them. If you feel more comfortable, you can even seek the assistance of a therapist virtually. One study found virtual therapy to be “effective, acceptable, and practical healthcare” for conditions like depression, anxiety, and other challenges people may be facing. An online therapy service like BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist who you can meet with from home, which may be a more accessible and comfortable option for some people. Regardless of how you prefer to seek therapy, there are mental health professionals available out there to help you process your emotions.

Finally, while handling feelings of sadness completely on your own may not always be a viable or healthy option, it is generally a good idea to work on building your own emotional resilience. Teaching yourself how to adapt to different situations and emotional states and to work through them rather than getting stuck in them can be helpful in managing what life may send your way in the future. Journaling, meditation, and physical exercise can all contribute to a sense of resilience, as can working with a trained therapist.

Takeaway

Feeling sad from time to time is generally a normal part of the human experience. Whether you’re feeling this way because of a situation you’re facing, because you suspect you may have a mood disorder, or for another reason, a trained mental health professional can help you work through these emotions in a healthy, constructive way. Remember: There’s always someone you can turn to for support when you feel sad.

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