How To Be Happy When You Are Sad: Tips To Feel Better

How To Be Happy When You Are Sad

When you’re wondering how to be happy when you are sad, it can seem like an impossible challenge. Life often presents us with a range of experiences. Some will lead us to happy times, others to sad times. We are all susceptible to a wide range of emotions, from the ecstasy of good times to the agony of bad experiences.

However, it's normal to feel overwhelmed when the weight of negative emotions, such as sadness, appears too heavy to lift. The good news is, despite the hard time you may be experiencing, numerous studies in social psychology have demonstrated that there are strategies you can use to usher in a positive mood, even in difficult times. Here are some of the most effective ones to try.

How To Be Happy When You Are Sad: Tips To Feel Better:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings of Sadness

One of the key differences between happy people and those who struggle with negative thoughts is the way they handle their emotions. When you are in a sad mood, it's important to acknowledge your feelings. Trying to suppress negative emotions can lead to a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression symptoms and even suicidal thoughts - But let’s not dwell on that. 

Remember, it's perfectly okay to have a good cry and let out those feelings. And if you ever feel that your sadness is turning into depression, it's important to reach out to a healthcare provider or seek professional help. 

2. Share Your Feelings With Close Friends or Family Members

When you're having a rough time, it can be helpful to share your feelings with close friends or family members. They can provide emotional support and perspective, which can help to shift your mood. Even a simple activity like sending text messages to a good friend or a family member can bring some relief.

If you don't feel comfortable discussing your feelings with people in your immediate circle, consider joining support groups where you can connect with others who have had similar experiences.

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3. Stay Connected!

This one is very important and yet the easiest to forget when you’re in a low mood. Social connections are crucial for our psychological health. Research studies have shown that people who maintain close relationships with others are often happier.

Spending time with your best friend, attending family therapy sessions, or even participating in social media interactions can help boost your mood. Also, keep in mind that scrolling through Instagram and Tiktok and looking at photos and videos is NOT the same as actually interacting with people.

4. Practice Mindfulness and Positive Thinking

Cultivating a positive attitude can be incredibly helpful in overcoming a bad mood. Mindfulness involves being present at the moment and accepting it without judgment. By focusing on positive thoughts and the good things in life, you can gradually replace negative thoughts. It's a step-by-step process.

Start by appreciating the simple things in life. Then, slowly shift your focus to the good feelings and happy thoughts you've experienced. This isn’t about lying to yourself and pretending everything is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s about shifting your focus to the more positive things in your life and changing your perspective to view things in a better light. The rose-tinted glasses don’t remove the darkness, they just change the color.

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5. Prioritize Physical Health

This one should probably be number 1. Physical health plays such a significant role in our overall mood. Regular exercise, for instance, releases feel-good endorphins which naturally boost mood and energy levels. A balanced diet, too, can influence mood regulation. Getting enough sleep is also crucial; a lack of sleep can increase feelings of sadness and with it, the risk of mood disorders.

A daily routine that includes these three elements - exercise, a balanced diet, and proper sleep - can promote good mood and overall health. I can’t emphasize this enough. The connection between our bodies and mind is so intertwined that just looking after your body can have a major impact on your mental health.

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6. Seek Professional Help If Necessary

Sometimes, feelings of sadness can be a symptom of a deeper mental illness such as clinical depression. Don’t assume that because you are a bit sad, then you are depressed. They are very different things, and the label is now thrown around so easily that anyone who has a moderately bad day is now apparently suffering from depression. It’s likely not, though. 

However, if your sadness is persistent, it might be time to seek professional help. A psychology professor or a mental health professional can provide additional resources and treatments to help manage your symptoms. Remember, there's no shame in seeking help; in fact, it's a sign of strength.

7. Avoid Substance Abuse

Alcohol and drugs might seem like a good way to escape negative emotions, but they can worsen depression symptoms and lead to substance abuse. Instead, find healthy ways to cope with your feelings. This could include simple activities like listening to your favorite song, watching a funny movie, or even visiting a new place.

Remember, our minds are incredible machines with the ability to do amazing things. They have all the tools and potential to fix themselves. There’s no need to rely on some external source of momentary relief - as tempting as it may be at times. The truth is - as cheesy as it may sound - the power is already inside you.

8. Go Touch Some Grass

Spending time outdoors, especially on sunny days, is one of the easiest ways to boost your mood. Natural sunlight helps to increase serotonin levels, a hormone that contributes to a happy feeling - Thank you Science! Fresh air and the tranquility of nature can also help to clear a negative mood and bring about a sense of peace. Even if you're having a rough day, try to spend a little time outside. A 30-minute walk can do wonders.

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9. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is crucial during sad times. This could mean different things to different people. For some, it could be taking a long bath, for others, it might be spending time alone to reflect on recent events. For new moms, it might mean carving out some "me time" away from the demands of motherhood. The bottom line is, it's important to do something that makes you feel good.

If you’re struggling to think of what to do, then think back to the times you’ve enjoyed yourself in the past. What kind of things did you like to do when you were younger? We forget that even as adults we are allowed to play. The desire for fun doesn’t go away as we get older. We just don’t prioritize it as much.

10. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Grab a pen - or type on a computer/phone - and record the thing you are thankful for. Keeping a gratitude journal can be a great way to boost your mood. Every single day, write down the best things that happened.

Over time, you'll begin to notice that even amidst difficult situations, there are always things to be grateful for. This is another way of practicing mindfulness and positive thinking. The more we look for the good stuff in life, the more good stuff we see.

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11. Maintain a Balanced Lifestyle

A balanced lifestyle can serve as a foundation for overcoming a difficult situation. Achieving balance isn't a one-time task but a long-term commitment that involves multiple aspects of life, from daily activities to maintaining social connections. 

Firstly, make sure your work-life balance is in the right place. Spending a long time at work can cause stress and burnout, which can exacerbate feelings of sadness or a mood disorder. It’s also easy to bury ourselves in work when it acts as a distraction from the thing causing your low mood/sadness. Take time to relax and engage in activities that you love. This could mean reading a book, gardening, painting, or any hobby that brings you joy.

Secondly, pay attention to your diet. As we said before, consuming a balanced diet is not only essential for your physical health but also for your mental well-being. Nutrient-rich foods can boost your immune system, increase your energy levels, and even improve your mood - which is what we’re here for, right!? 

Lastly, ensure that you're getting enough sleep. Sleep is crucial for maintaining emotional balance and promoting good mental health. Lack of sleep can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions and can have a negative impact on your mood. 

These are just some of the areas of your lifestyle to look at when trying to create balance. Practicing mindfulness to reflect on what makes up the different parts of your life will help reveal which pieces of you and what you do can be changed.

12. Learn from Past Experiences

One of the different ways to address feelings of sadness is to learn from past experiences. The past can be a great teacher, as long as you’re willing to learn the lessons it provides. Take a moment to reflect on how you dealt with a similar situation before. What strategies worked for you? What didn't? By understanding your past reactions, you can better equip yourself to handle current challenges.

Perhaps you've noticed that speaking with a close friend or engaging in a specific activity helped uplift your mood in the past. If so, try to replicate those actions. Numerous studies have shown that similar results can be achieved when the same strategies are employed in similar circumstances. Which makes sense when you think about it.

In contrast, if you find that certain actions or behaviors worsened your mood or mental health condition in the past, make a conscious effort to avoid those triggers. This self-awareness and understanding can be a valuable tool in navigating through difficult times.


Remember, it's okay to feel sad, and it's okay to seek help. Everyone experiences sadness differently, and everyone recovers in their own time. By taking these steps and making these practices a part of your everyday life, you can gradually overcome feelings of sadness and pave the way for more happy times ahead. It’s not a sprint, - but not a marathon either! - It's more like a 10k run that isn’t being timed. No matter how much time it takes, every step forward is a victory worth celebrating.

It's natural to experience a range of emotions in life. However, it's also important to remember that persistent sadness can lead to serious medical conditions such as heart disease and a higher risk of depression. Therefore, if you're having a hard time shaking off your sadness, consider seeking help from a health care provider. The strategies outlined here, such as maintaining social connections, practicing mindfulness, and prioritizing physical health, among others, are all evidence-based ways to promote happiness and overall well-being.

The journey to a happy life may seem long, especially if you're in the midst of a tough time. But remember, it's a journey worth taking.

Be patient with yourself, take one day at a time, and most importantly, NEVER lose hope. Even the longest night will pass, and the sun will rise again. Just as Cornell University's research on human happiness suggests, it's often the simple activities and daily routines that bring us the most happiness.

So, the next time you're feeling down, remind yourself that it's okay to have a difficult day. It's okay to feel sad. But also remember that there are resources and strategies available to help you navigate through those difficult times. By implementing these steps on a daily basis, you're sure to find your way back to a place of happiness.

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