Truly Happy: how to feel happy even when you’re struggling
I don’t know about the rest of you, but once in awhile I wrestle with massive sadness. I’ve dealt with depression for as long as I can remember, (diagnosed, clinical depression) but over the last few months I’ve been fighting the darkness like never before. And even though I’m using all the tricks in my well-packed arsenal of coping tools, I’m still struggling to find a new center of gravity.
A few days ago I spent some dedicated time thinking about exactly how I was going to crawl out of this particular hole, and I had a few ideas. My first thought, a small gift from a lifetime of depression, was that this is not the end. I’ve been here before and I know it gets better, because I’ve been there too. So as I sat down to make a ‘how to get truly happy right now’ list for myself (I’m big on lists) I realized this list might be helpful for those of you who find yourselves in unfamiliar territory right now.
If you’re hurting, please know you’re not alone. I’m so sorry you’re struggling. The pain can feel unending, but I promise you, it gets better. It really does. I have a few tricks that really, truly help me when I can’t get out of bed in the morning, and I hope they help you as well.
Three things before I get to my list:
- If you need immediate help please call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255 (in the US), go straight to the Emergency Room, or seek out a medical professional.
- Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds are wonderful. They can help you climb out of the darkness in a way nothing else can, so please consider them if you need to. Anti-depressants have been a game changer for me.
- If you’ve been struggling for a period of more than a few weeks and you just can’t get back to your normal self, call a doctor. Depression is no different than a heart condition or diabetes, it needs to be treated with proper medical care. Period.
Now, onto the list.
10 Ways To Feel Truly Happy When You’re Struggling
- 1. Reach out
#1 on my ‘I’m feeling sad’ list is always, always, to reach out to another human. It helps to get another perspective when I’m struggling. Our brains get foggy when we’re depressed and we don’t always see things as they really are. Reach out to friends or loved ones to let them know how you’re feeling and ask for help. Or reach out just to hang out and not be alone. People help counter the sadness.
- 2. Get moving
Go for a walk, go for a run, dance around your apartment. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you get some endorphins pumping through your brain. You’ll be able to think more clearly once you get moving. I know this is extra hard to do when you’re having a hard time getting out of bed, but it makes a difference.
- 3. Listen to music
Music is my go-to for everything, but it helps so much when I’m really sad. I have playlists for every mood, but when I’m really depressed 90’s rap helps a lot. Find your ’90’s rap’ and pump it up full volume. Keep headphones in as much as possible during the day if it helps you get through the darkness.
- 4. Eat something delicious + healthy
Being sad / depressed can mess with your ability to feed yourself. Eat something really delicious and healthy. It will give you energy to fight the battle, and trust me, you need all the help you can get. And if you feel like eating chocolate ice cream straight out of the carton? Ignore that voice. Eating crappy food just makes it worse.
- 5. Change your environment
If you work at home, like me, go work at a coffee shop or local library for a few days. Go to a movie. Walk around a shopping center. Mix up your daily routine just a little bit. Get out in the world and see other people and things.
- 6. Drink water
I know it seems simple, but being hydrated makes everything better. Make it easier for your body to get through this by taking care of yourself. Drinking water helps.
- 7. Go outside
This helps me so much. Sometimes being physically stuck inside mimics what it’s like being stuck inside your sad brain. Get out, give your brain something else to look at and think about for a little while.
- 8. Try something new
Join a knitting group or a book club, start a dinner group with friends or potential friends, organize an activist group with people who share your same interests and hit the streets. Get involved in something that takes you outside your comfort zone. Bonus: you might walk away with both a new skill and new friends.
- 9. Serve someone else
It’s hard to think about how sad you are if you’re helping someone else. There are so many ways to get involved with serving others. If you can’t think of a way to help in your local area, contact a local church, homeless shelter, hospital, school, city center, library, or YMCA, or spend some time searching the internet for ways to get involved in something you care about. This should be #1 on the list because of how effective it is in treating my depression.
- 10. Self-care
Self-care looks different for everyone. For me self-care looks like watching a mindless show on Netflix, checking out a new book from the library, a treat of a nice flavored sparkling water, extra sleep, a massage, a hot bath, a nice cup of tea, a manicure, or a homemade facial. Self-care just means taking care of yourself like you would take care of a friend who was having a hard time. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s putting fuel in your tank so you can keep fighting.
What do you do when you’re struggling to feel truly happy? Do you have any super useful tricks I haven’t listed? I’d really love to hear what has worked for you.
Last, but not least, hang in there. Hang. In. There. You’re not alone and it gets better. I promise. We’re all in this thing together. We can do this.