Self

How To 'Fake' Your Way Into A Happier Life

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So many of us, myself included, find we have to "fake it ‘til you make it" when we're feeling sad.

Life is busy with work, family, friends, pets, etc. Who wants to be — or even has time to be — sad? I know that I don’t.

Unfortunately, it can be very hard to not give in to the sadness, to not let it derail your life.

There may be a practical answer, however. Many experts believe that people can "behave" their way into thinking differently. 

That doesn't mean you can just wish your depression away. In fact, any serious mental health challenge should be addressed with a doctor or mental health professional. Some things simply can't be fixed on our own. 

But for the rest of us, it's worth giving these things a try. You may also find serious benefits by adding them into the treatment plan of your mental health professional. 

RELATED: How To Respond When Someone Asks How You Are — And The Honest Answer Is, 'Not Great'

Here are 7 practical ways to "fake it ‘til you make it" when you're feeling sad.

1. Get out of bed.

This might seem fairly obvious but, for many people, the act of simply getting out of bed when they're depressed is impossible.

The inclination to stay under the covers, in the dark, away from the stimulation of the world is almost irresistible when you're depressed. The bed is comfy, cozy, and not going to judge you in any way for how you are feeling.

If you're trapped in your bed, get out of it!

I've known people who take their mattress off the box spring and lean it against the wall. Some pile their mattresses with books. Others strip the bed of the sheets — whatever it takes to keep them out of bed.

Out of bed, it’s way more likely that you will actually be able to do something other than lay around, ruminating about how horrible you feel.

2. Do what makes you feel good.

When you're struggling with sadness and depression, the inclination is to collapse into your life. You stay in bed, don’t shower or eat well, and cut off contact with those you love.

Let me tell you: if you're feeling sad, collapsing is absolutely the worst thing that you can do. Instead, it's important to do things that make you feel good.

Take a walk. Spend time with friends. Take a bath. Do some yoga. Binge on some fun TV. Have sex. Go to the movies. Take a road trip.

It seems hard now but ask yourself what you usually enjoy doing. Or ask a friend. Doing something that makes you happy will raise your endorphins and help you manage your sadness.

RELATED: 7 Surprising Things That Make Your Depression Even Worse

3. Take care of yourself.

After my mom died, I fell apart. Getting off the couch was next to impossible. Tequila was my closest companion with ice cream a close second.

Fortunately for me, a friend saw what I was doing to myself and helped get me back on track. I started going to yoga, getting more sleep, eating better, and drinking lots of water.

I started spending more time outdoors in the sunshine because the warmth of the sun felt good on my body and the Vitamin D provided by the sun is a natural anti-depressant.

I know that if I hadn’t started taking care of myself, if I hadn’t made my body stronger, my sadness would only have gotten worse!

4. Keep your mind active.

Unfortunately, when you’re feeling sad, your worst enemy is your brain.

While you're lying on the couch feeling sorry for yourself, your brain is actively buying into it all.

"You're a loser," it says. 'You have no friends. You aren’t good at anything. You will never find love. You suck at your job." And on and on.

And, chances are, that none of those things are true. You're not a loser, you have plenty of friends, you're talented, love is out there, and your boss thinks you are doing great. But your brain, when you're depressed, just doesn’t go there.

It's really important to keep your brain busy.

Yoga is a really good way to do this — you're so busy trying to figure out the damn pose that you don’t have a chance to think about anything. It also has the side benefit of toning your body and making you feel strong, which can be helpful.

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You can also try reading, going to a movie, hanging out with friends, and working. Meditation is also an option but I just get more depressed when I try and fail to meditate. If you can do it, go for it!

RELATED: 9 Subtle Signs Of Depression I Was Too Depressed To Notice

5. Write it out.

Do you journal? Or write letters to yourself? Or scribble notes on post-its? If you do, great! If you don’t, it could be time to start.

Negative thoughts are four times more powerful in your head than after they have been spoken or written.

Think about it — the last time you were stuck listening to those negative voices, didn’t you feel much better when you shared them with someone? Yes! Even if your problems weren’t solved at least they weren’t rolling around in your head, making things messy.

Writing about how you're feeling, things that are making you sad, or whatever it is that's stuck in your head can be an excellent way to "fake it ‘til you make it", especially if you don’t have someone with whom to share your sadness.

When you have no one to talk to when you are feeling sad, writing allows you to get your sadness out of your head and onto paper.

And when you see your feelings on a piece of paper in front of you, it's much easier to manage instead of having them rolling around in your brain.

RELATED: How To Tell Which Type Of Depression You're Experiencing — And Exactly What To Do About It

6. Spend time with friends — but choose carefully.

One of the most important things to manage when you’re feeling depressed is your environment. Your bed and your PJs might feel like the right thing to do but you know how they're not.

The same attention needs to be paid to who you spend time with when you're feeling depressed. If there are people in your life who bring you down, then avoiding them when you aren’t doing well is very important.

My mother was very difficult to spend time with when I was depressed. She was always trying to talk me out of my depression by pretending that it didn’t exist or telling me to just snap out of it.

Both of those things just made me feel worse. So, I avoided her when I wasn’t doing well. It was best for both of us.

On the same note, think about who would be a good person to be with and make a date with them right now!

7. Know that feeling sad isn’t a sign of weakness.

Admit to yourself that you, in fact, are struggling.

So many people struggling with depression judge themselves. You're taught to be tough, not let emotions overwhelm you, and to "get over it." You look at those around you and assume that everyone else is fine, that it is only you who's such a loser.

But this is not true. Sadness and depression are real things. While you may think that you should suck it up and be happy, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Sometimes you're just sad. And it’s OK.

In many ways, it's sad that we have to "fake it ‘til we make it" when we are feeling sad.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if society as a whole was willing to accept that depression is a thing and give us space to be depressed openly?

Unfortunately, while you're getting there, that is not the way life is right now so knowing how to get through your sadness is a key part of not letting it derail your life.

So, when you're feeling sad, first and foremost, get out of bed. Take care of yourself. Do something fun. Control your thoughts and accept that this is just how things are for now.

All of those things will allow you to keep moving forward when you are depressed. And sometimes, if you keep moving forward, that in itself will help with your depression.

All of this being said, if you're feeling depressed and you find that it isn’t going away, that it is derailing your life, it is essential that you see your doctor. What you are dealing with might be more than sadness and your doctor can help you figure out ways to deal with it.

But for now — get out there. Live! You can do it!

RELATED: 10 Agonizing Truths Depressed People Never Talk About

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her at mitzi@letyourdreamsbegin.com and get started!

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This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.