Depression is a serious yet often unrecognized disease.
In 2016, about 16.2 million Americans had at least one major depressive episode. Because of the strong social stigma attached to depression, many people don’t receive treatment.
Their sadness hangs around their necks every day like a weight. It becomes hard to do simple activities like preparing dinner or taking a shower. Their thoughts go around and around, and they don’t see a way out.
If you have ever suffered from depression, you know what I mean. Maybe you feel depressed right now and are looking for hope.
Here’s the good news. You can overcome depression, and there are things you can do today to beat the sadness. In this article, we’ll show you how to be happy again.
Will I Ever Be Happy?
The answer to this question is Yes. You can be happy again.
Therapy, especially Positive Existential Therapy (PET), is useful. It will help you work through the causes of your depression and change the way you think about them. For severe and debilitating depression, medication might even be needed.
But overcoming sadness and living a happy life again requires action on your part as well. Here are eight things you can do right away to overcome the sadness in your life.
1. Feel and Observe the Sadness
Sadness and pain are unpleasant feelings, and we try to avoid them. How many of us have held back tears to be strong? Who hasn’t used drugs or alcohol to numb feelings they don’t want to experience?
Yet, allowing yourself to feel negative emotions helps them go away. The trick is to observe how you are feeling and attach a label. For example, say to yourself, “This is sadness. I am feeling sad right now.”
Your label places distance between you and the emotion. It allows you to reorient yourself and serves as a reminder that that emotion will not define you.
Watch out, though. If you dwell on your feelings, wallow in self-pity, or view yourself as a victim, the feeling will grow. Obviously, that is not what you want at all!
2. Embrace the Present
Labeling sadness and grief serves another function as well. It places our mind squarely in the present.
When you focus your attention on the here and now, your mind stops replaying past experiences over and over. It also stops worrying about the future. Neither of those activities will make you happy.
To cement your mind in the present, try doing deep-breathing exercises or meditation. Just about any meditative activity will do. You may prefer sitting quietly or following a guided meditation.
Also, deep-belly breathing decreases stress levels, which are a prime contributor to depression. Try to make deep breathing a daily activity, but don’t be hard on yourself if it’s difficult. Breathing this way can feel unnatural, but it gets easier with practice!
3. Develop Gratitude
Dealing honestly with your grief or pain is an excellent first step towards releasing those feelings. Another way to speed along the process is to “be thankful.”
Practicing gratitude forces you to think positively. It will also make you happy. When you are thankful for something, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are the reward and happiness neurotransmitters, and they literally produce feelings of joy.
Feeling grateful is a habit like any other. Some ways to work on it are keeping a gratitude journal or writing a thank-you note to someone who helped you.
Lastly, focus on positive topics when speaking to friends. Gossip and negativity don’t make anyone happy.
4. How to Have a Happy Life: Be Kind To Yourself
Most of us try to be kind and compassionate to others. At the same time, we can be our own worst critics. Constant internal criticism wreaks havoc with our self-esteem and causes profound sadness.
It’s not hard for our internal critic to find something it doesn’t like. Everything from our appearance to our beliefs to our feelings is fair game.
How do you stop it?
Grant yourself permission to be imperfect. Treat yourself with the patience you’d give your own child or a good friend. Meditation can help, as can therapy or counseling if you feel you need it.
5. Do Something Joyful!
Similarly, try to do something every day that brings you joy. This can be hard because depression is exhausting. You might feel like you are too tired to do anything.
But you have to begin somewhere.
Your joyful activity will be different from someone else’s, but just about anything will do. Take a hot bath before bed, spend time with your pet, do something creative, or turn on some music and dance!
Any of these activities will take your mind off of yourself and your problems. This is a key step in feeling happy again.
6. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
It causes new nerve cell growth in the hippocampus and improves cell function there. The hippocampus is the region of the brain that helps regulate mood. Making it work better, then, will make you feel better.
For exercise to work, though, you have to do it consistently over time. It can take three to four weeks to have an effect.
That’s the hard part, isn’t it? When you feel sad, it’s difficult imagining yourself exercising, let alone doing it!
Again, start small. A five-minute walk around the block is fine. Slowly increase your walking time, and soon you will have a daily aerobic activity under your belt.
7. How to Make Yourself Happy Again: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
When we are feeling sad, it’s hard to sleep. But sleep is necessary for your our brains to function, and it’s also a major contributor to our moods.
This information can be frustrating to learn because when you’re sad, it’s hard to sleep. Insomnia is an all-too-common symptom of depression.
There are a couple solutions you can try. First, exercise promotes better sleep, so, there’s another reason to get active. Second, a consistent nightly routine will send a message to your body that it’s time to go to bed.
If you find yourself lying awake, though, don’t get upset! That’s not relaxing at all. Do something peaceful until you feel tired. It will get better.
8. Find a Meaningful Project
Sometimes sadness is nothing more than boredom in disguise. There are times when we don’t know what our purpose is or what we should be doing. We have no idea why we are getting out of bed in the morning, and we begin to feel despair.
Discover (or rediscover) your purpose. Find something meaningful to do that requires your skills and abilities. If you are having trouble coming up with a project, apply your talents to helping others.
In fact, altruism is one of the best ways to add meaning to your life. It also increases your own sense of gratitude and helps you build meaningful relationships with others.
Wrapping Up: How to Be Happy Again
We hope this article was helpful showing you how to be happy again! Feeling sad or depressed is difficult as well as tiring.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The eight recommendations listed above should help you feel happy again!
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out our blog? We cover a lot of different topics, some of which are sure to be useful.
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As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why everyone should go to counseling sessions.