Surviving sadness – avoiding depression

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Sad child

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How do you cope with sadness when your life goes on?

Sadness is a normal part of life. You feel sad sometimes and then the sadness passes and you move on. Sometimes we feel sadness and we get stuck there. The longer you stay stuck the more likely you are to slip down into the quicksand of depression.

So what should you do when that sadness feeling comes lurking around?

1. Let yourself feel what you feel.

It is OK to feel what you feel. Some things are sad. Sometimes we feel sad just because we do. We hear of someone else’s misfortune and it makes us sad. We see something and we feel this feeling. This is called empathy, the ability to understand and experience what others feel. Put yourself in another’s shoes and you will understand some part of their sadness.

Do not try to stop the feeling the second it comes on. It is OK to experience it. Just do not stay there and wallow in the feeling. Understand that this feeling like all other feelings can pass if you permit it.

2. Share with someone else.

In times of trouble, we need to share our sadness with others. We talk about our pain and grief with friends or family. If you have religious faith or a spiritual tradition you will want to seek out those with like beliefs.

When there is no one that you feel comfortable turning to, when there is no one there or when you do not feel comfortable putting your sadness on those close to you there are professionals that can help. Seek them out.

3. Share with yourself – write it out.

Sadness that continues to rattle around in the head magnifies itself. A first step in getting loose from the sadness is to get it out.

Some people find that journaling, writing about their sadness or depression, helps discharge it. Others use drawing or dance to express these sentiments.

4. Turn sadness into motivation.

A sad event in your life can be the tipping point that turns your life around. Lose someone to a drug overdose and you may be motivated to become a counselor.

How might your sadness, pain, and suffering become tools to help you find your purpose in life?

5. Treat yourself to things you like.

Learn those things that make you happy and make it a point to allow yourself those items on the list that are positive.

6. Budget extra sleep time

Not getting enough rest, being over tired, is a way to let sadness and depression overcome you. Get plenty of rest. Make bedtime a regularly scheduled event.

One type of depression (atypical features) results in people who start to stay in bed all the time. They eat more than normal, like a bear ready for winter and then sleep day and night. If you find that you are tired all the time and just do not have the energy to get out of bed and do things, try setting a time for bed and one for getting up. If that still is a problem consider an evaluation by a professional for possible depression.

7. Eat regular meals.

Failure to eat on time, lack of energy can result in sad, tired feelings also. This makes it hard to get back into life after a life event that creates sadness. Take care of yourself and that especially means eating in a healthy way if you want to reduce the impact of sadness on your life and mental health.

8. Invest in laughter.

Laughing can be a powerful antidote for sadness. Watch a sitcom, visit a comedy club, tell jokes, and your sadness fades. Not able to laugh when the rest of the crowd does? That is a sign that your feeling has moved beyond sadness to major depression. Laughter is a great medicine, take some daily if possible,

9. Hang out with positive people.

You become like the people you spend time with. You friends are your future. Hang with the winners if you want to win. Hanging out with downers will pull you down.

10. Take frequent short breaks.

When you are down and sad, things can be overwhelming. Do what you can. Do not give up. Do a little and then take a break. Repeat as needed. Be kind to yourself when times are tough.

11. Exercise.

A little movement can brighten your mood. Walk around the block if that is all you are up to. Exercise is a good prescription for depression and a little can be a preventative when it comes to the progression from sadness to depression.

Try to include some exercise in your regular routine to improve both psychical health and mental health.

12. Change the scenery.

Get out of the house. Take your lunch break away from the office. Do something new on your time off. A change of scenery can create a new perspective on life and on your troubles.

13. Learn to say no.

When sad we tend to give in and go along. This can create feelings of resentment. Learn to set boundaries. Do not let yourself be taken advantage of. Saying no to requests that are beyond your current abilities can reduce your stress and keep your sadness from drowning you.

14. Avoid negative people.

Misery may love company, but it loves miserable company. If you want to get out of the sadness trap seek out positive people. Limit your exposure to naysayers and Negative Nellie’s.

15. Plan for time to yourself.

When you are down, too much commotion and too many people can be overwhelming. Include in your schedule quiet time for yourself.

16. Reconnect with supportive people.

Make sure those people you do contact are supportive. Call an old friend. Attend a self-help meeting even if you do not feel like it. Being around supportive people is good for your recovery and for your future mental health.

What other positive coping skills have you discovered that keeps your sadness from becoming a serious depressive episode?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at

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