8 Ways to Help a Person Who is Sad

It's not easy seeing a friend or family member suffer with moments of sadness. It can even be difficult seeing a stranger cry in public. Sometimes the discomfort comes from not knowing what to do. Do you hug them? Give them a taco? Do you tell them to forget about it? What do you do when someone is sad? 

Here are 8 Ways to Help a Person Who is Sad:

1. Reflect Their feelings

You may not know exactly how they feel, but lots of people feel safer to share sadness and speak when they feel understood. "I may not know exactly what you're going through, but it sounds like x, y, and z, is really tough for you right now." NOTE: "I know how you feel" can be perceived as insulting. Sometimes we will never know how deeply in pain someone is, and it's a very sensitive topic to assume. 

2. Say You're Here For Them

Some people need to be alone when they're sad. It's comforting to know someone is around, even if you need space at the moment. It's nice to know you're not alone, especially when you're sad. "I see you need space right now, but I am here for you if you need to talk."

3. Sit With Them

Sometimes sleeping in can help while processing feelings of sadness. a blanket fort might be the remedy for some of us when we're sad! 

Sometimes sleeping in can help while processing feelings of sadness. a blanket fort might be the remedy for some of us when we're sad! 

This may work with some people, it may not work with others. (Check in with people who need space first). Sometimes a person who is sad doesn't really know what to say when they're sad. They just FEEL SAD. Instead of interrogating or trying to fix things, a gesture of connection can be to sit with them in the space. This also takes trial and error. Some people need a personal bubble around them when experiencing intense emotions. 

4. Guide Them to a Safe Space

When we're sad, we're emotionally hijacked at times. This means, it may be difficult to process logically. When this happens, it's a wonderful gesture to help guide a person who is sad to a safe space. If you're in a public space, perhaps getting coffee or tea can help. Offering a blanket or coat might also help. This, of course, depends on the person who is sad's openness to receiving help. If this person is a loved one at home or in the car, it can be a loving gesture to make a blanket fort for them to be safe to cry or process. 

5. Remind Them They are Worthy of Love

Sometimes, people who are sad have experiences where people leave or run away because they can't "deal with" them when they are sad. This statement takes honesty and can increase connection. Lots of people who battle depression or sadness feel they are unworthy of love. A way to help is to remind them their worth is separate from this moment of sadness, that they are still loved, even when sad.

6. Remind Them This Shall Pass


Does this mean the event is insignificant, or that the moment will not reoccur? No. Lots of sadness can come from unprocessed griefs, or uncontrollable physical ailments. These events are impactful, and painful. People have a right to be sad, and fully experience the emotional experience. Reminders that this sadness will lift, can help encourage people to sit with sadness. Denying or resisting sadness can prolong the negative emotional experience. 

7. Seek to Understand

Lots of people who are considered "emotional" have been implicitly told that their emotions aren't logical or important. It may be difficult at first, but a simple question of, "Do you want to tell me about it?," can open doors to releasing so much unaddressed pain. Some people may feel ashamed or judged for being sad for the reasons they have. Asking questions is different from demanding reasons for being sad. Minimal questions (too many questions can feel like an interrogation) can help establish connection and safety to share more in the future.

8. Be Patient With Them

Learning how to share vulnerability takes time, and lots of practice. It's like learning how to acknowledge a hidden part of yourself to someone who really wants to understand. It can be wonderful, yet scary at the same time! Being patient with one's responses (instead of reacting) can help strengthen relationships and increase positive communication. 

Hopefully, some of these tips can work out with you and someone you know who experiences sadness. Establishing a routine, or learning what your "patterns" are with sadness or intense emotions can help identify which will work, and which won't. It might be beneficial to speak with a therapist to see how they can help in the beginning if emotions are very very intense and difficult to work through. 

If you are looking for a therapist, your local psychology graduate program has counseling centers that offer low-cost or even free sessions based on income. In Orange County, you can call 211 for mental health resources, or visit Orange County Shrinks on Facebook to get a few referrals. 


Felicia Day's Book Tour

Felicia Day's Book Tour, Los Angeles, 2016

Felicia Day's Book Tour, Los Angeles, 2016

I was invited by another geek therapist, The Mindful Misfit MFT, to attend this book tour. She messaged me on FaceBook and asked, 

"Do you know Felicia Day?"

In my head I was thinking, "Uh, yes?!" (I've followed her since her YouTube days with The Guild, and it empowered me to be more of my geek and gamer self at the time. It was so relateable, and sad and funny to see a script based on the lives of online gamers.)

So it turns out, Felicia Day wrote a memoir. And in this memoir is very personal things about growing up with home schooling, acting, and being a professional creative female. She also talks candidly about her depression and gaming addiction when things got overwhelming for her. 

Even though she lived with her brother and home schooled with him, it seemed like they never connected until they gamed together. I resonate with this statement because my brother also introduced me to World of Warcraft. We didn't have much to say to each other in person, but gaming and having goals to accomplish as a team really connected us. 

Bringing people together is one wonderful aspect of gaming. 

Wil Wheaton interviewing Felicia Day

Wil Wheaton interviewing Felicia Day

Some tidbits that I wanted to share from the talk she had with Wil Wheaton are the following:

Collaborate & Seek Others: 

Both Wil and Felicia talked about how isolating it can be as an artist with depression and/or anxiety. Sometimes it feels like a burden to share so much emotion with others. Wil disclosed how he felt so bad that Felicia was going through this pain and didn't have anyone to share it with. He was right there and didn't even know. And that's how depression can be for many of us. 

Self-worth and Pressure on Achievement: 

Perfectionism is a curse for many creatives, and it limits the enjoyment of creation. Both paired their self-worth and ability to be liked by others with approval and tangible outcome. Wil and Felicia are both working on this self love and acceptance, and shared that it is enough just being you. You are enough without the accolades and accomplishments. 

How to Balance Work/Life as an Artist:

The practical advice came as learning what your baseline is. This is in terms of one's depression and anxiety. Each of us has a baseline that we stray from in times of stress or high emotion. Taking time to acknowledge what we look like without any stress can help us work towards maintaining the ups and downs closer to this baseline. 

o Coping Skills: Figure out what works for you, and what doesn't work for you.

o Self-Monitor: Sometimes we're so busy, we don't take notice of how we're feeling and our body's internal state. Start noticing what's going on when we feel certain ways can help bring us back to that baseline.

"Find a place to perform for the love & joy of performing." -Wil Wheaton

Boonie Sripom & Felicia Day! <3

Boonie Sripom & Felicia Day! <3

A part that struck a chord with me is the overall society view of art. It's seen as something as a hobby, something that couldn't really be compensated well until one becomes a celebrity. Being in the middle of unknown and well-known has its financial and emotional consequences. Both Wil and Felicia touched on this topic of money, and said,

"Make art...creative outlet for the sake of creativity." -Wil Wheaton

"You do it because you want to get your voice out there."-Felicia Day

(on whether her YouTube series would be successful now, and advice to others thinking of making work on YouTube)

Felicia advocated for seeking a therapist as an artist or geek. Her writing of this memoir helped sort through many of her life's moments, gave herself permission to fail, and acknowledge that she has accomplished so much. She encourages more of us to write that memoir to see how healing telling our story can be.

Thank you so much, Felicia! 

Anxiety Gaming connects online gamers to therapists

Anxiety Gaming connects online gamers to therapists

Felicia gave me one resource, Anxiety Gaming, and it is a nonprofit that connects gamers with therapists. The nonprofit can help pay for services. I hope to work with them soon. 

If these tips from Wil & Felicia are difficult to implement or maintain, give me a call! I'm in the OC area and love to help fellow artists, geeks, and gamers level up. (949)381-1894

Take care,


Purchase the Book here:

 You're Never Weird On the Internet (almost): a Memoir, Felicia Day, 2015

Additional Links:

The Guild YouTube webseries

Felicia Day's Official Website

Wil Wheaton's Official Website

Connect Online Gamers With Therapists | Anxiety Gaming

Geek Links | Organized Messes

Links on Creativity | Organized Messes

Finding Safety to Feel Strong Emotions...

Words can hurt us. Feeling misunderstood can hurt us.

Photo credit: seb kim

Photo credit: seb kim

When the pain from the past creeps up, and we're met with the words, "You're still dealing with THAT?, it can feel like we're alone, and it can feel shameful. Our feelings and experiences are not being honored or validated at times because it seems like it is too much for others.

What are some reasons others would stop the sharing of painful things? Perhaps it is too much for others at the moment. It may bring up feelings of discomfort in others to see you in pain. It can be frustrations with not knowing what to do to make it better. Many times, people want to help, yet they are not prepared to do so. Instead of showing empathy, people can sometimes shut the emotions down because of this discomfort. 

It could also be societal norms that dictate which things are "more appropriate" to talk about in public. Stigma is very real, and it affects how many of us are allowed to share our personal experiences with others. 

So, what can you do to ensure you're able to process these feelings, and create a safe space?

Identify safe people.

Start with family or friends. Sometimes it will not be family, but people who have gone through similar things. Support groups, hotlines, or FaceBook groups might be a starting point.

Identify safe spaces.

Talking in loud, public places like the supermarket might not be the best places to share pains. Identify quiet, private places that you and the other person feel comfortable with having a conversation together. Think about confidentiality and if you want your information shared with people nearby.

Take a break to compose your words.

Take some deep breaths. Write your words down if it's easier to talk about how you are feeling, and what you need. Drinking tea, or a comforting beverage can help calm you down where you can write what's going on. It doesn't all have to be logical; the goal is to get the energy outside your body. Writing can help organize thoughts so when it is time to share, it can be easier to explain what you're going through, and what others can or can't do to help you during this process.

Develop boundaries.

It's okay to tell others how their behavior is treating you. Using "I-Messages", you can talk about how you're feeling when not given permission to share your experience.

"I felt disrespected/sad/(emotion) when [you said (x,y,z), you didn't listen...]

Offer opportunity for repair.

State what behavior you want, or how someone can show care. Lots of people do not know what to do to comfort someone in pain.

  • "When I am sad, and need to talk, I want you to [x, y, z]. It would make me feel (loved, understood, important) if you did this. 

NOTE: If you do not know what you want/need from a loved one when you are upset, it is unfair to ask of it from them. If this is the case, take time alone to figure out what helps you improve your mood, and what helps you sort through your thoughts and emotions.

Small amounts of time.

Sometimes new information is easier to swallow in tiny bits. People need time to process as much as you do. If a problem has affected you for a long time, that means you've had a long time to think about it. Offer others a little more time to understand what you're going through by talking about it briefly every now and then. (In the meantime, you can write about it, or make art about your experience.)

Maintain respect for others.

Sometimes the best you can do is offer others compassion when they cannot understand you. You can still interact with people who do not get you; just limit how much you share, knowing that they will not understand. There can be other things to talk about. If you do not feel safe with certain people, then it is at your discretion to interact or not interact with these people.

If you're unable to find safe people after several attempts, keep looking.

Online support groups might be an option. Talking with a therapist for a short while can also be an option. Journaling and reading books related to what you're going through is also an excellent option. 

How do you make sure your feelings are being respected by others? Where do you go to talk about things that have affected you for a long time?