How to Be Sad With Bestselling Author Helen Russell

Helen Russell

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews experts, authors, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

Meet Helen Russell 

Helen Russell is a bestselling author and happiness researcher. She also writes for magazines and newspapers worldwide, including "The Sunday Times," "Wall Street Journal," and "National Geographic."

While most of her books focus on becoming happier, her newest book is titled "How to Be Sad." In it, she shares her experience with grief and sadness. She shares science-backed strategies for coping with sad feelings.

Why Helen Russell Is Mentally Strong

Helen is no stranger to grief and loss. She lost her sister when she was a child, and her parents divorced. 

She grew up to become fascinated by happiness. So when she learned that Denmark was the happiest place on earth, she went on a quest to discover more about what made the people of Denmark so happy. This experience allowed her to write her book, "The Year of Living Danishly."

She continues to teach others what she learned along the way about happiness—as well as sadness. 

She makes it clear that mental strength isn’t measured by how happy you feel. Instead, living your best life involves allowing yourself to embrace sad feelings sometimes, too.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • How allowing yourself to feel sad sometimes can increase your overall happiness
  • Why we’re so afraid to allow ourselves to feel sad
  • The benefits of sadness
  • The strategies we can use to comfort a loved one who is feeling sad
  • Why putting a timeline on sadness does more harm than good
  • The strategies we should stop relying on when we feel sad
  • The difference between sadness and depression
  • Cultural differences in beliefs about sadness
  • The link between shame and sadness
  • The coping skills that will help us best manage feelings of sadness
  • The lessons Helen has learned from her sadness and how it has inspired her to make changes in her life
  • How music impacts your emotions and the type of music you might want to listen to when you feel sad
  • How to reduce your risk of depression by 30%
  • Helen’s tips for anyone who is struggling with sadness

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Sadness is a normal, healthy emotion. It can help you honor something you’ve lost. And it can help you recognize changes you want to make in your life.

You can learn skills to tolerate and manage sad feelings in a healthy way. Coping strategies might include things like reading a book, listening to music, or going for a walk. 

Sadness is not the same as depression. Depression is a longer-lasting mental health issue that can interfere with daily functioning. 

Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, however. You can still be mentally strong and experience depression.

If you think you may have depression, seek professional help. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both may help you feel better.

Quotes From Helen

Helen Russell

Sadness is a temporary emotion that can be awakening.

— Helen Russell
  • "In the U.S. and in the UK, where I'm from, we are quite avoidant to sadness, and we do find it really uncomfortable."
  • "We can often get a sense of shame if we feel like our emotions are not being accepted."
  • "We can't love ourselves unless we have been loved and are loved."

More About the Podcast

The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.

Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too.

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By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.