How to Be Happy Again: 5 Simple Ways to Shake Off Sadness
When life gets difficult and you start to feel like you can’t seem to figure out how to be happy again, it can be difficult to even get out of bed. Just going about your day can just be painful sometimes, and even the normal functions of life like eating and sleeping can be hard to achieve.
PYM knows the feeling, and would like to help you shake off the sadness so that you can start to really be happy again. Here are a few simple places to start.
#1) Lean On People
It’s incredibly important for anyone who is struggling with sadness to remember that they are not alone.
When you feel sad, it is often our first instinct to retreat inside (both physically and psychologically). Whether that is because you are afraid of being a burden to your loved ones or if you just don’t know where to start, you may quickly isolate yourself, which can make you feel alone even when you’re not.
However, especially if you have gone through something that the people around you are aware of (like a death or a breakup), your loved ones want to help… they may just not be sure how to do so. You’re both on opposite sides of the same fence, wanting to reach out but not knowing where to start.
This is where you can take even just a quick step out of your comfort zone, if only just to reach out and let them know that you would appreciate their help and support. Just a short text or phone call can help you feel less alone and can spark your happiness again. Once that little spark relights a connection, it becomes easier and easier for you to take those steps and reach out.
Your support system is one of the biggest assets that you have. Whether these are your friends, your family, your coworkers, or your therapist, humans are made for connection. At our core, we are pack animals and we feel safer and more comfortable when we are around other people. It’s normal, and it’s very human. If you’re feeling sad, reach out and talk about it. Just vocalizing what’s wrong, and having someone else help you brainstorm ways to help can be just what the doctor ordered.
#2) Shake It Off… Literally
If you’re feeling stuck in your sadness and you feel ready to take steps to move forward, you can help by quite literally shaking it off.
Music has been used for therapy for decades. It has been shown to reduce pain, reduce stress, and just generally enhance your feeling of well-being. Think about those times that you were just cruising around in your car, windows down, singing your favorite song at the top of your lungs. These are the happy, peaceful memories where you could let go, forget your struggles, and live fully and completely in the moment. That’s the power of music, and it can help you move past, or even through, your sadness.
Some people find it helpful to create a playlist that they can refer to when they are feeling down. Playlists like this can be full of any song that has meaning to you, songs that you love to sing, songs that you love to cry to (crying can be incredibly cathartic on its own, as we’ll discuss in a bit), or songs that remind you of happy times in your life. Put it on shuffle and feel the stress and sadness start to fade away into the lyrics and beat.
While you’re at it, consider forgetting about your self consciousness and fear of “looking silly,” and just start dancing around your house. When you can live without abandon and be free for even a moment, dancing (and just moving your body in general) can help you have fun, laugh, and remember that negative feelings are temporary and eventually pass, and you can breathe, dance, and sing to help you through them sometimes.
#3) Let Yourself Cry
When you feel sad, the instinct is to try to hide it. That’s part of what keeps you so isolated from your friends and family when you’re going through tough times.
What we often don’t consider as a viable plan of action is just letting ourselves be sad. Isn’t it ironic that just feeling your own feelings can seem so foreign? We can get so removed from how we actually feel and who we are on the inside that reconnecting to our own feelings can feel impossible.
Try this. The next time that you feel sad about something, whether something large or small, instead of trying to “tough it out,” let yourself be sad about it. Let yourself cry. Instead of spending all of your emotional energy holding it in, let it out. Crying is one way that our body can get stress and tension out, similar to a kind of release valve.
When you stop yourself from crying, it can actually trigger your sympathetic nervous system (the part of your body that controls your “fight or flight” response) to kick into gear. This releases stress hormones like cortisol into your body, and can have a negative effect on both your body and your mind.
In addition, as almost anyone can tell you from personal experience, repressing your feelings doesn’t make them eventually go away.
When you repress, those feelings have a tendency to either pop up at unexpected times or appear in unexpected places. Generally speaking, whatever you were feeling before that just gets amplified. Crying it out, and embracing your feelings both good and bad, can help you move past the trigger into a more relieved state of mind.
#4) Write Your Feelings Down
As much as venting to a trusted friend or family member is helpful, there are times where you just don’t feel like you can tell them everything. There is no rule that says that you have to practice full disclosure when talking to people, but that may not help you feel fully unburdened from what’s bothering you.
If you’re going through feelings or a situation that you really want to completely lay out on the table and get out of your head, journaling is a creative and helpful endeavor.
In fact, there have been plenty of research and studies that have shown the many benefits of journaling for mental health. According to researchers at Michigan State University, journaling is a great way for you to organize your thoughts, help you problem solve, clear your mind, and gain a whole new perspective on what may be bothering you.
When you journal, you tend to gain more clarity. It allows you to really look at the situation as a whole, instead of taking it piece by piece as things come up. Once you’re able to see the whole picture, you can come up with solutions or even see smaller parts of the situation that you may not have been able to see before. And, much like crying, journaling can work as a type of stress relief where you can pour out your feelings in a safe, non-judgemental space.
#5) Get Out of the House
We sometimes find ourselves sitting and stewing on everything that is going on in our life, and in times like this, it often helps to just get up and get out of the house to change up our scenery.
You may not know that you need something different, but going outside and getting a dose of good old fashioned fresh air can help break negative thought patterns that you didn’t even know you were falling prey to.
Getting out of the house can really involve anything that you want it to -- going for a walk around the block with your dog, grabbing a hot cup of coffee and having a light conversation with a friend, going to the gym for a sweat sesh, or even just cruising around town in your car (listening to your favorite playlist, of course).
The important part is that you’re able to step out of the focus on your own troubles and free your mind up to be able to think about other things, living firmly in the moment instead of focusing on all the what ifs.
Practicing mindfulness both by yourself and when you’re out and about is a helpful way to be able to get the clarity that you need to help make positive changes in your life. By working on being able to live in the moment, as well as making a few other lifestyle changes that can help you better deal with stress, you can reshift your focus to more positive thoughts.
While sadness is temporary, when you’re going through it, it can often feel like happiness is simply out of reach. Those of us here at PYM have experienced that, too.
Just know that however bad the bad times get, the good times always come again. Always.
Learn to rely on your support system, change up your scenario, and employ other healthy coping mechanisms to get you through. Do your best to keep positive thoughts at the forefront along with gratitude for what you have, and you’ll be back in the sunshine in no time.