When you’re feeling down, lonely, or sad, small steps make all the difference. It can feel overwhelming to think of solutions to the problem when you’re in the middle of a spell of sadness, because your mind loses a lot of drive and motivation.

And sometimes, when we are experiencing loss or sorrow, our mind can enter into survival mode, which makes it difficult to focus on anything other than what we’re feeling.

When you’re experiencing these emotions, it’s important to remember that small, micro steps matter in the long run. I look back on times in my life when I went through a lot of sadness, and it was always frustrating to try and find a solution to feeling better.

But what I learned over time was that even though I could snap my fingers and make the sadness go away, I could take small steps toward health and happiness.

These steps don’t seem like much in the moment, and we can’t just wish away the feelings of sadness, but they make a huge impact in the long run.

Here are some simple yet meaningful steps to take in order to feel better when you’re feeling down.

Photo by Quan Nguyen on Unsplash

Move around

Moving your body when you’re feeling sad is one of the best things you can do for yourself. When you’re feeling down, usually the last thing you want to do is go out and exercise.

But if you can move around a bit, you’ll release endorphins that actually make your brain more happy.

According to Psych Central, “exercise triggers the release of endorphins, by sending a signal to your brain to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”

It’s important to note though that getting yourself to exercise when you’re feeling sad can be extremely difficult, and that’s normal. When sadness hits, it often times shuts down your motivation and makes you not only melancholy, but lethargic as well. 

To combat this, the first thing to know is that if you can understand the importance of moving before you’re hit with sadness, you’ll be better prepared to motivate yourself when you’re in the thick of it.

Another important thing to note is that what type of exercise you engage in matters, depending on your regular relationship with movement.

If you’re someone who loves working out on a regular basis, you’ll have an easier time convincing yourself to get up and get moving. If this is the case for you, you can stick to any form of exercise that you normally enjoy because you’re already familiar with the type of movement you like.

However, if you’re not normally as inclined to work out, you might be more hesitant when you’re feeling down.

This just means that small movements are key for you. You can try walking around the lake, doing some light stretching outside, or taking a yoga class.

Call a friend

When you’re feeling blue, it’s crucial to recognize that you’re not alone. Sadness and grief of any kind can make us feel isolated, so it’s always a good idea to reach out to someone who loves you.

Calling a friend is a small but meaningful step when you’re feeling sad. It lifts you out of the feeling that you’re alone, and it creates connection that you don’t have when you isolate in your feelings.

Talking with a friend not only reminds you that you are loved, but it can distract you from your heavy emotions.

It’s totally normal when you’re feeling sad to not want to reach out to anyone. Sometimes we do this as a way of protecting ourselves and protecting our friends. We are often worried that if we are in a bad mood, we might be mean to the people around us. 

But take note of one or two friends in your life that you trust enough to talk to even in your lowest moods. If you feel comfortable enough, it could be a good idea to even bring these friends into the sadness you’re feeling.

If they’re your friends, they’ll want to help. If they know that you’re struggling, that gives them the chance to reach out to you as well.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

Make something

It might seem obvious, but if you can find the motivation to do something creative, it can help you feel better when you feel blue. If you’re feeling sad, depressed, or unmotivated, your mind will sometimes lack the desire to do things that you normally love. 

If you’re feeling this way, take the step of making something. Even if it seems small. You can try writing, creating music, or drawing and painting. Creating is a way of not only expressing yourself and channeling positive emotions, but also practicing mindfulness.

Sadness can take over your mind and make it seem impossible to overcome, but creating can help take your mind off of the negative emotions you’re feeling.

If you’re feeling an extra level of sadness, start even smaller with creating. Maybe take out a journal and try writing a few lines, or take your phone outside and snap some pictures.

Cook dinner

It’s amazing how relaxing it can be to cook a meal for yourself. If you love cooking, this might be an obvious point for you. But even if you’re not used to cooking or baking, making a special meal for yourself can help bring you out of a sadness spell.

The mindfulness and creativity of cooking is helpful for bringing your mood up, but the self-care of cooking for yourself is a key factor in feeling better.

When we go through sadness of any kind, whether it’s light or heavy depression, it becomes harder for us to care for ourselves. We prioritize getting better and not feeling this way anymore, but we don’t often include self-care in these priorities. 

Doing something as simple as making food for yourself has surprising effects on combating sadness. By cooking yourself a meal, you’re acknowledging that your body deserves delicious, nourishing food.

If you can motivate yourself to do it, try cooking a meal for dinner. You can either make an old favorite, or try making something new. Either way, you’re caring for yourself in a small way that will help you overcome some of the sadness you’re feeling.

Make a list

This step might seem weird, but try giving it a go. When you’re feeling sad, it’s easy to focus on the things you don’t have. Our minds naturally gravitate toward negativity when we are already feeling depressed, and if we aren’t aware of it, we can let our minds dwell on all the things in our life that aren’t how we want them to be.

There is a small, simple way of fighting this negativity that will gradually help us change our mindsets over time. If we can fight each negative thought with a positive one, we can start to feel a little better about our circumstances.

To do this, try grabbing a journal or a piece of paper, and just make a list of A) people who love you and B) things you love about your life. It might feel cheesy at first, but making these lists is a simple step toward feeling happier and more content during moments of sadness. 

Over time, simple steps like this can actually rewire our brains toward more positivity. We can’t avoid our sadness, but we can help ourselves move toward feeling better and more peaceful.

Clean and organize

Cleaning and organizing your space can do wonders when you’re feeling blue. A lot of times, our sadness keeps us down and makes us feel lethargic. If we’re feeling unmotivated, chances are we won’t be taking care of the environment around us. 

Taking the step of getting up and cleaning your home will not only clear your mind and get you moving, but it will make you feel more content and at peace while you’re in the space.

You can start small by just focusing on one room, or you can go big and tackle the whole area. Regardless of what rooms you clean, you’ll find peace and energy in clearing out clutter and creating a new space for yourself.

Organizing is also a helpful move toward getting out of a funk. Try going through your closet or your bathroom cabinets and get rid of things you’re no longer using. This simple step has the power to relieve a lot of anxiety and pull you out of sadness.

When it comes to dealing with a tough time, you have the power to make changes that will help you along the way. We might not be able to make the sadness go away quickly, but we can take these small steps to move toward happiness and peace.

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