Hopelessness is an emotionally isolating experience; it can feel like no one else understands the visceral aching inside your body. It can weigh on you, slowing you down like molasses. It can make you lethargic, completely lacking motivation to accomplish even the simplest of activities, like brushing your teeth or answering texts. Excessive worry, fatigue, depression, and feeling defeated are all signs of hopelessness.
When left untreated, hopelessness can become a burden that affects your day-to-day life and hold you back from accomplishing your daily activities and lifelong goals. Learning how to stop feeling hopeless starts with becoming more aware of its causes. These feelings don’t have to be as permanent as they seem; following mindful practices can bring positive change.
Why Do You Feel Hopeless?
Hopelessness can stem from many aspects of your life; it’s possible a variety of factors are impacting your mental well-being, and you may need to make some adjustments in your daily life. Some factors behind your hopelessness may include:
- Traumatic events
- Loss of a loved one
- Medical diagnosis
- Failed personal relationship
- Estranged family relationships
- Financial instability
Trying to manage these difficult life events can leave you feeling overwhelmed, distressed, despondent, or unable to believe in yourself. You may believe you will never succeed and begin to feel worthless compared to others. Some individuals who feel hopeless also overgeneralize; they might take one isolated incident and apply it to everything else.
For example, after a breakup it can be hard to stop feeling hopeless; you may feel that no one cares for you, and everyone rejects you. That black hole grows when you have been alienated or when you are feeling oppressed, helpless, or controlled in relationships or work situations. Feeling powerless to rise above or make decisions can also cause you to lose hope.
Will The Feeling of Hopelessness Ever Go Away?
Despite its overwhelming nature, hopelessness is not as permanent as it feels. Pinpointing what triggered this feeling can help you better understand it. Realizing that there are things in life beyond our control can be intimidating, but you also must remember that there are things in your life within your control. Acceptance is an important part of healing; when you internalize that you can’t always live without hardships, you can better cope with the difficult changes thrown your way. When life gives you lemons, remember you can make lemonade.
Mindful Practices to Stop Feeling Hopeless
There are proven strategies to combat this state of mind; psychotherapy, mindfulness practices, and self-care are tools for growth. If you are experiencing the symptoms of hopelessness—such as sadness, low motivation, and increased isolation and worry—there are tangible steps to stop feeling hopeless and help you feel stronger about yourself:
Avoid Black-and-White Thinking
Often, difficult situations require a more nuanced approach than you may initially assume. When people overgeneralize, they might take one experience and apply it to future situations. Doing so might limit the person from understanding someone’s else’s viewpoint or the bigger picture. Black-and-white thinking can make it easy to focus on the negatives; find the colors in-between those dark thoughts. If you are telling yourself, “I’ll never feel better,” rephrase your thoughts to reflect more positive outcomes—“This feeling will pass and I will get better.”
List Possible Solutions
To confront challenges head-on, it is helpful to make a list of possible solutions. It can also be valuable to write down pros and cons so you can better visualize the positive and negative aspects of situations. Circle solutions that stand out to you and implement them in your life.
Write Down Your Strengths
Make a list of your accomplishments and talents. Visualizing what you do well may help you take notice of your positive attributes. It may also be beneficial to list all the things you have accomplished over the past day or week. Did you make your bed? Do the dishes? Walk the dog? Go to therapy? Have lunch with a friend? Note each of your actions and take pride in any tasks you have already completed.
Celebrate Small Victories
Some tasks may be so daunting, breaking them down into smaller bite-sized pieces can help. Create small objectives to accomplish in a day, such as grocery shopping, vacuuming your living room, or doing laundry. If you have not felt like going to the gym, take a short walk around your house or neighborhood to start small. If your room is such a mess that just looking at it makes you feel defeated, then set a 20-minute timer and clean. Little steps can lead to bigger accomplishments.
Create a Gratitude Jar
Write something down every day to be thankful for or a cute moment that made you happy. This is something you can always go back to read when you need a reason to smile.
Be Kind to Yourself
Review negative labels you may be calling yourself like “lazy” and “unimportant” and give yourself a new label such as “worthy,” “talented,” or “capable” to boost your self-esteem. Address yourself with love and encouragement. Place kind notes to yourself on your bathroom mirror so you can start every morning with words of affirmation.
Share Your Emotions Openly
Talk to a loved one or someone in your support system about your thoughts. It can be helpful to have someone you trust give you honest feedback about your ideas, choices you have made; it is always valuable to get another perspective.
How Do You Know When You Need to Seek Help?
If you feel you are unable to cope with hopelessness on your own and are concerned for your mental health, do not be afraid to seek professional help. You may want to speak to someone you trust or a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Being unable to shake the negative feelings about yourself, others, or your surroundings
- Not being able to get out of the house or out of bed
- Experiencing an excessive or debilitating sense of worry or dread
- Having thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Whether you are experiencing the above symptoms, or you want to foster a more hopeful outlook going forward, there is support for you. You did not get to a place of hopelessness overnight, and it is really difficult for you to get out of it in a day. The first step to healing is telling yourself, “Yes, I can.” Mindful practices, counseling services, and your loved ones will be there for you as you navigate through your feelings of hopelessness.