How To Not Be Sad: Coping Skills To Manage Sadness

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated June 8, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Though sadness is an entirely normal human emotion, it can be disruptive and difficult to experience; it isn’t a switch you can turn off, and you can’t just choose not to be sad. Sadness and other stress reactions can profoundly impact your life. Finding ways to process and express your feelings is vital to your overall well-being. Read on to learn more about positive, constructive coping skills and effective ways to control your emotions.

Want To Learn To Cope With Persistent Sadness?

What Are Coping Skills, And How Can They Help You?

Sadness, fear, anger, and the full spectrum of emotions are all standard parts of life. You’re likely to experience various mental, emotional, and physical symptoms alongside your feelings. Coping skills are the methods you use to recognize, understand, work through, and release the stress related to your emotions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, leaving your stress symptoms untreated can lead to unintended health consequences such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Coping skill styles can be described in the following way:

  • Problem-Focused—addresses the source 
  • Emotion-Focused—focuses on the emotions related to the stressor 
  • Meaning-Focused—finds meaning in the situation 
  • Support-Seeking—seeks emotional support from loved ones 

Effectively managing your stressors helps you maintain stable moods and behaviors. You can try many coping skills on your own, but if you’re still struggling to handle your sadness and stress, consider speaking to a therapist for a more intensive look at what’s bothering you and how to process it. 

Sadness Vs. Depression

Along with other basic human emotions, sadness is a typical feeling, and all people experience it throughout their lives. While it’s natural to feel sad in reaction to a situation that causes you pain or emotional distress, how do you know when it escalates to depression? Sadness is temporary and eventually fades. You should feel it for a while, gradually lessening until it disappears. However, depression is a severe mental health condition that can impair function in many areas of your life. Even with treatment, depression could be a lifelong condition, such as cases of neurochemical imbalance.  

Coping Skills To Manage Sadness

Emotional control is an incredibly valuable skill for people who prize balance. Coping skills are a crucial facet of emotional control, and they go hand in hand with emotional intelligence and literacy. The combination allows you to recognize, identify, process, and express your feelings effectively.

Keep A Journal To Track And Express Your Emotions

Many people find writing about their feelings a helpful tactic to channel emotions into something constructive; the act of writing forces you to think about what words to use—which requires examining your feelings. To write about them, you must first take time to recognize and understand what you’re feeling and then find the language to express it. 

Religion And Prayer

The belief in a higher power and entrusting their problems to the deity of their choice can be a significant stress relief and a great source of comfort and purpose to many people. 

Prioritize Your Self-Care

Self-care includes everything you do to preserve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, meet your needs, and safeguard your overall well-being. Many struggle to take proper care of themselves because they may feel their needs aren’t as important as others. It’s crucial to remember that you matter, too. When you’re healthy and emotionally stable, you can present the best version of yourself to the people you love. 

Remove Yourself From the Situation

Sometimes, the healthiest way to handle a situation is to leave. Step away to somewhere quiet and take the time necessary to center yourself until you’re better able to face the stressor. 

Change Your Perspective

Work on reframing your thoughts about the stressor to make it easier to identify and process your emotions. Try to find another way to look at the situation more positively, and you may find it easier to discover solutions. For some people, acting is helpful, so examine your stressor, problem-solve a plan, and make the first step. 

Look For The Silver Linings

There can be immense power in positive thinking. You may often be able to find the silver lining in any storm cloud if you look hard enough. Make it a game. Find something obscure but still positive and use it to focus on the good within the bad. Optimism isn’t going to banish your sadness on its own, but it won’t hurt, either. A positive mindset can help you realize and remember that your negative feelings are only temporary, which may make it easier to work through them. 

Practice Mindfulness

Taking on mindful habits, such as yoga and meditation, often leave you sitting quietly with your thoughts. Use this quiet time to reflect. Acknowledge your experiences and how they make you feel, accept them for what they are, and then let them go without hanging on to the stress. 

Avoid Unhealthy Stress Management Methods

Just because a coping strategy works right now doesn’t mean it is a healthy choice or is reinforcing positive habits. While maladjusted coping skills often temporarily relieve your symptoms, you may end up feeling worse later—and your problems will still be unsolved.  

Heavy drinking and substance use may numb your feelings, but they haven’t gone away, and you may have done something you could regret while intoxicated. Other harmful ways to manage stress and sadness include gambling or compulsive spending, which can make you feel on top of the world…until you’re out of money and have to pay the bills. You may also try to avoid the problem by ignoring it, or fixate on the stressor to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Maladjusted coping skills also include impulsive, risky, and self-destructive behaviors. 

Find Positive Coping Skills That Help You Relax

What works best for you isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else. Try lots of things until you find effective strategies. Maybe a bubble bath, massage, or nature walk helps you work through sadness, or perhaps you need a hard workout, a long nap, or time alone. Make time to experiment and find the little things that relax you and bring balance to your life.

Constantly Adapt Your Repertoire Of Coping Skills

As you might imagine, you’re likely to experience many kinds of stressful situations throughout your life. Healthy emotional control is a lifelong journey where the most successful grow, learn, and make mistakes many times along the way.

Speak To A Therapist

If you are having trouble managing your sadness and stress on your own or think you may benefit from the professional support and guidance of a licensed therapist, therapy is a proven tool for developing healthy coping skills to help control your emotions. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help you identify harmful or unhealthy behaviors, thought patterns, and attitudes, teaching you to replace them with favorable variations.

A variety of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, treatments have been effective for treating depression, persistent sadness, stress, and similar mental health conditions. Many people find the flexible convenience of online therapy preferable because they can speak to a licensed therapist from the comfort of home. Virtual therapy platforms like BetterHelp can teach you valuable coping skills while identifying the underlying causes of your sadness. 


Sadness can often be overwhelming and leave you feeling like it will last forever. The coping strategies outlined in this article may make it easier to find healthy ways to control your emotions when feeling down.

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started