Life’s not always easy, and we sometimes hit bumps and fall into the occasional pit of deep sadness. While that’s happening, it’s nearly impossible to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel—I get it. However, know that there are ways to return to a state of balance and contentment. Here are seven tips on how you can bounce back from sadness.
1. Cut out dark thoughts
I know all too well how easy it is to slip into a pattern where self-talk becomes negative and your every thought inundates you with darkness. Stop and sit for a moment, and let your thoughts flow without fighting or blocking them. Observe your thoughts without judgment and say to yourself “this is just a thought; it will pass.” Know that all feelings are temporary.
2. See the light
Here’s an article I wrote about the benefits of light therapy: Of course, there’s nothing like heading outdoors for natural daylight every day. My Ayurvedic physician is a huge advocate of exposing ourselves to sunlight on a daily basis, so get out there and get some fresh air.
3. Focus on things that inspire gratitude
It’s easy to dwell on sad thoughts when experiencing a difficult time. Grab a journal and write down 10 things you’re sincerely grateful for having—even if they seem like trifle things, such as your sneakers, a bed to sleep in at night, and a hot cup of tea. You get the point—it’s not about grandiose, expensive things; it’s about being grateful for what you have, what makes you happy, and the people in your life who put you at ease.
4. Sing and dance
Studies have shown that playing music increases positive feelings via the reward center of the brain. Happy music triggers dopamine, which causes elation, so stop listening to sad music. I recently played cheerful music during a rough patch, started to dance and sing even though I was in a funk. Afterward, I felt as light as a feather and a lot less sad. It’s not that everything goes away—it’s just that you permit yourself to shake off some of the sadness. Check out happy playlists on YouTube or Spotify if you’re searching for some fresh music to lift you up.
5. Build a happiness toolbox
Over the years, I’ve discovered the things that can boost my mood when I need some help. From daily yoga and meditation to look at photos from a vacation, we can stockpile things that cheer us up. Try keeping a shoebox filled with 3D items such as stones collected at the beach, letters from a loved one, and dried herbs like lavender and mint. Customize an actual toolbox and maintain a virtual one as well—we all need tools to help get us through rough times.
6. After the pity party, get on with it
It’s okay to sit with your feelings and observe what’s going on. It’s also alright to hang out in your pajamas and binge-watch films—whatever brings you a little joy. After a while, however, it’s important that you shower, get up, and brave the outside world. Seek out some friends and have a laugh, see a film, or get to the gym. You get the point—don’t stay stuck.
7. Increase physical activity
Get outdoors for a hike, long walk, or run until you’re out of breath. I promise you will feel relieved after some time spent moving your body and breaking a good, honest sweat. Join an active yoga class, hit a gym, and try spinning—cardio is magic, and it fixes funks like nothing else. Drinking or getting high sometimes helps people to numb out, but there’s no hangover from a good workout!