Follow these tips to harness pockets of positivity when you’re going through periods of helplessness
We all feel hopeless every now and then – whether it stems from anxiety about things that are out of our hands, or in situations where the challenges seem immense.
It almost feels like an understatement to say that 2020 has been a year full of challenges that are out of our hands. As reports continue to show the emotional impact of lockdown and COVID-19, it’s more important than ever that we take steps to look after our mental health. But beyond that, there are many situations in our everyday lives that can leave us feeling hopeless and frustrated, heightening our anxiety and dominating our thought cycles.
So, what can you do when you’re faced with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness?
1. Try to think logically
This is always easier said than done, but take a moment to consider all of the facts. Can you identify what it is specifically that’s making you feel hopeless? Once you’ve done that, consider the way that this situation is affecting your life, and then assess what you can do to address those effects. For example, perhaps you are due to do something you don’t want to do, but have to, for whatever reason. You feel stressed and anxious about doing it. You can’t do anything to change the fact you have to go ahead with it, but you can take steps to alleviate the associated emotions.
2. Talk it out
The old saying, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, is something that is so relevant when it comes to taking care of our mental health. Whether your sense of hopelessness stems from something you’re going through in your personal life, or from a wider situation, it’s still a feeling that a lot of us will have experience with, and talking out what you’re going through with others can help us process what’s going on in our minds – and let’s us know that we’re not alone. Reach out to a loved one in your life, or join online communities such as the SANE support forum.
3. Try visualisation techniques
Visualisation techniques can help us control intrusive thoughts at times where we need to put them to one side – like when we get into bed at night, or need to concentrate on work. If you can picture the thing that is causing your sense of hopelessness, imagine putting it inside a box, locking the box, and then putting the key away somewhere safe. If the thing that is causing you to feel stressed is more abstract, you can try visualising the word. There are so many ways that you can use visualisation techniques like this one, and many of them will help you mindfully take control of your thoughts, tucking them away until you can process them at a healthy time.
4. Find little wins
While the thing that’s causing you distress is out of your hands, you can take back control by achieving little things in your everyday life. This might be something as simple as clearing out a cupboard that you’ve never found time to sort through, or perhaps helping a loved one out with a task they’re struggling with – such as doing a food shop or booking an appointment. It can often be helpful to bring out attention back to the things that are in front of us, and that we do have control over, and can make positive, productive steps forward with.
5. Give yourself a break
It’s important to remember that we’re not going to feel in control and happy all the time. Good and bad mental health days come and go in waves, and, so often, learning how to take care of yourself is about being able to accept and weather the challenges. So if you’re feeling low and helpless, accept those feelings, but know that they will not stay with you forever. Also, make sure that you let go of any unjust feelings of guilt – sometimes, there really is nothing we can do to solve a situation. Double-down on your self-care routines, make sure that you’re keeping your social levels high, and harness those little pockets of joy wherever you can.