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How to Combat Hopelessness

    Combat hopelessness by expanding a perspective that has narrowed. You feel hopeless because what is right in front of you, whether that is a life situation or just how you feel, seems impossible. That is not true! Find other people who you trust, seek professional counseling, change unhealthy patterns, and find other ways to expand that narrowed perspective.

    This article will equip you with practical tools and skills to take the fight to your hopeless moods and find a new perspective for tomorrow.

    Invite people into your situation.

    You may feel that no one understands you or how you feel, and if you have not told them, then you are correct. You may feel like no one would care about your feelings or your situation. Fight through those feelings. You need other people to lean on in these times.

    Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or family member.

    The longer you spend isolated with your own hopelessness, the larger that feeling will grow. Connect with friends and family who will listen and walk alongside you. Choose people who will listen more than they will talk. Your relationships will grow exponentially as you share your burdens with others.

    Consult a mental health professional as a way to combat hopelessness.

    The stigma around therapy faded a long time ago. Many people seek help from trained mental health professionals for a variety of reasons. Ask friends and family for recommendations or seek out someone with an excellent reputation who can help you combat hopelessness.

    If you are uncomfortable with therapy…

    If therapy feels uncomfortable to you, consider what you would do if you broke your arm. You would go to the Emergency Room, get X-Rays, a cast, follow up visits, and maybe even physical therapy until you fully healed. Your hopelessness is a symptom of “broken” emotions. Allow a professional to help you as you would for a broken arm.

    Change unhealthy patterns.

    People naturally develop unhealthy patterns over time. When we live life unintentionally, we sink into destructive cycles. We make bad choices, we create bad habits, we feel worse, and then we make even worse choices. Combat your hopelessness by breaking some of these negative cycles in your life!

    Lower your time on screens will help combat hopelessness.

    According to Valleywise Health, too much screentime not only causes a variety of physical problems, but it can also cause depression and anxiety. If you struggle to limit screen time, use a timer. Distract yourself by replacing your screen activities with exercise, music, or physical book reading.

    Improve your diet.

    Comfort food earned its name for a reason: certain foods comfort us. We all wish that kale or broccoli would give us comfort, but we typically seek out fast food, sugar, or alcohol when we feel low. These will provide fleeting improvement to your mood but will lead to long-term degradation. Increase your fruit, veggie, and water intake to improve your mood.

    Improve your sleep habits.

    When we feel hopeless, we often sacrifice our sleep. We spend late night hours wasting our time, and we find ourselves burnt out the next day. This pattern can very quickly lead to a constant state of physical and emotional weariness. And adult should get no less than seven hours of sleep a night to maintain a healthy mental state.

    Improve your exercise habits.

    You need about thirty minutes of physical activity each day to maintain a healthy mental state. These thirty minutes are quite flexible. Go on a walk, walk your dog, follow a home workout video, get that bike out of the garage, or play tag with your kids. You do not need to join a gym; you just need to get up and get moving.

    Create and maintain a schedule.

    Create an hourly schedule that you follow each day. Go to sleep early, wake up early, get ready, and have stable mealtimes. Our bodies love to follow schedules. If each day contains surprises for our body, then we throw off our emotions as well.

    Listen to your body.

    You may have a big project due tomorrow, and the worry has pushed you into a state of worry and stress. Do you need to finish this project by tomorrow, or do you need to listen to your body and ask for an extension? You do not want to live your whole life this way, but your mental health during this low season is more important than your productivity.

    Listen to and express your feelings.

    We sometimes get into places in our life when we struggle with our own feelings. We might feel embarrassed of our low state, or we might feel that we should power through these emotions until they go away. When we ignore our feelings, they become trapped in us until they release later. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and share the burden so that you can process them well.

    Journal your emotions.

    As you listen to and express your feelings, you will not find a better audience than a pen and paper. The University of Rochester Medical Center finds that journaling helps organize your thoughts and creates a sense of peace and relaxation. Always keep a journal and pen with you so that you can write or draw whenever you want. Try to write or draw once a day. Write down all ideas you imagine can help you combat hopelessness.

    Identify negative thought patterns.

    Sometimes our unhealthy patterns come from how we think more than what we do. We do not arrive at hopelessness out of nowhere, we move toward it with perspective shifts over time. Identify thoughts that are unproductive for you. When a negative thought enters your mind, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is this thought realistic?
    • Is this thought helpful?
    • What is realistic?
    • What is helpful?

    Learn a new skill.

    Sometimes our hopelessness comes from a lack of focus for our creative and productive energy. Learn a language, pick up an instrument, start some DIY projects, train your pet, or pick up a different hobby. Focus that energy into something new that you enjoy.

    Set small, achievable goals.

    This whole list could have left you more hopeless than before. You may feel overwhelmed by all the things that you “need” to do. You do not need to do them all at once. Set a small goal for today that you can know you will accomplish. Then, set another small goal for tomorrow. You will build your hope back with one achieved goal after another!

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