How this strategy works is pretty straightforward: Considering sadness as an entity separate from yourself helps you detach from it, says study author Li Yang, a graduate student at University of Texas at Austin who studies behavior's effects on financial decisions.
In turn, the emotion is less of a burden than it would be otherwise.
The bottom line:
Any time you feel sad, conjure up an image of that emotion as a person, imagining everything from its hair color to its demeanor. (In the experiment, people described the emotion as someone with grey hair and sunken eyes, a little girl walking with her head down, and more.)
Thinking or writing about it for just five minutes can protect you from the emotion’s side effects, such as an increased risk of depression and reduced self-control, Yang says.