7 Ways To Stop Feeling Hopeless
Updated December 17, 2018
Reviewer Laura Angers
Feeling hopeless immobilizes you. A simple task like driving to the store to get milk is so overwhelming when you feel hopeless. If you say things like "why bother?", "nothing will ever get better," "I'll never be happy again," "no-one can help me," and other despondent things, you are suffering from hopelessness. Hopelessness can either be a symptom of depression or can lead to depression.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hopelessness as not expect good or success, despairing, not susceptible to remedy or cure, incapable of redemption or improvement. If you're feeling hopeless and dejected most of the time, and you've lost interest in activities and people, that can be used to define hopeless. If you no longer enjoy the things you used to or if you feel powerless and helpless, here are seven things you can do to start living life again.
Whether your hopelessness is the result of the loss of a loved one, or the result of childhood trauma and abuse, or a mood disorder, there is a therapist and a therapy technique that can help you. Therapy isn't a quick fix, it can take months and years, but it's the first and most crucial step to a more hopeful future. Many people avoid therapy because it can be both expensive and time-consuming. Thankfully, companies like BetterHelp provide professional counseling that is both private and affordable. Because it takes place online, your healing can take place from the comfort of your own home. Different types of therapy that can be helpful for overcoming hopelessness include:
The death of a close family member, friend or beloved pet can leave us feeling hopeless and powerless. Grief is a normal emotional response to loss, but "normal" doesn't make it any less painful, and grief therapy can help you through the dark days of bereavement to a life that seems worth living again.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a widely used therapy technique to treat hopelessness and depression. CBT helps you break down overwhelmingly huge problems into smaller parts and gives you practical ways to change negative thinking into more hopeful thinking. Like all therapy, it's not a quick fix, but day by day your state of mind will improve until you achieve success.
Several other therapy techniques successfully treat feeling hopeless, especially if your despondency is a result of a mood disorder. It's best to have an initial chat to a therapist or counselor; open up to them and tell them what you're feeling, and what previous diagnoses have been made, so that they can give you the best possible advice for the therapy that will most benefit you.
In addition to therapy, there are some things you can do yourself to improve your emotional well-being and start living life again.
Change How You Think About Happiness
When we've lost someone through death or divorce or a break-up, we can spiral downwards into feeling hopeless despair. We tell ourselves that we can't be happy without that person in our lives, and now that that person is gone, we will never be happy again. But is this true? Does our happiness depend on other people, or ourselves? Are other people responsible for our happiness, or does that responsibility fall on our shoulders? What were you like before that person came into your life; were you hopeless and helpless then? Or were you a relatively happy person coping with the normal ups and downs of life? If you were, then the chances are good that you can be that person again.
Take small steps to change the way you feel about happiness. Remind yourself daily that you were happy before that person came into your life or that terrible situation occurred, and you can be happy again. Paste an affirmation quote like "My happiness is in my own hands" to your bathroom mirror and repeat it out loud for as long as it takes you to wash your hands. Google and find more happiness affirmation quotes, put them on the refrigerator, on the back of the toilet door, anywhere where you can see them. Repeat them out loud whenever you look at them.
Hindus have believed in the power of affirmation for thousands of years, and Smokenders use positive affirmation as part of their programme to help people stop smoking. But you don't have to be spiritual or a smoker to change the way you think about happiness. Anyone can use affirmation to feel less hopeless.
Find A Small Thing To Enjoy Every Day
When you're feeling hopeless, the chances are that you also feel that nothing brings you joy anymore. But, again, is this true? The chances are that even at your most hopeless and despairing, you will still feel pleasure at the touch of sunshine on your face, or a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. Do something small each day that makes you feel happy, even if it's only for a few minutes. Maybe it's walking the dogs, or giving an old friend a call; it can be anything that lifts that sense of hopeless despair for a short while to show you that a different future is possible.
Check The Facts
Hopeless thoughts are not facts. You may believe that it's a waste of time to try for a more hopeful future because none exists, but you have nothing to lose by entertaining the notion that you could be wrong. Perhaps you've given up going to the gym because there's no point in keeping fit, and besides, everyone at the gym is better looking and thinner than you, and the personal trainer doesn't like you. But what if you're wrong? You won't know unless you go back to the gym to check the facts. Are you the ugliest and fattest person there? Does the personal trainer treat you differently to anyone else? Probably not; check the facts and prove your hopelessness wrong.
Feeling hopeless often means that you also feel abandoned and that nobody cares whether you live or die. Check that your inner reality matches the outside world; find the evidence that nobody cares and has abandoned you. It's possible that you've isolated yourself because of your feelings of hopelessness; ask yourself if friends and family have abandoned you or if you've abandoned them. Reach out to them and check the facts.
Your feeling of hopelessness may also lead you to think that you're a failure, but is that true? Make a list of past achievements at work or in a personal relationship, or maybe you once lost 20 pounds or gave up smoking. Whatever your past personal successes, if you were successful once, you can be successful again; not necessarily in the same thing, but in a different thing. Remind yourself that you have options, and if you have options, then there is hope.
There's a school of thought that believes we only have to decide to be happy to achieve happiness, or that if we count our blessings every day, we won't feel hopeless and powerless. This may well work for some people, but if it were that simple, we'd all be permanently happy, and nobody would ever feel hopeless again. It's more than likely that your feelings of hopelessness built up over a period of years and it will take more than waking up one morning and saying "Today I'm going to be happy!" to change the way you feel.
But you can practice optimism: pretend that things aren't hopeless for just 10 minutes and act as if they aren't. What will you do for those 10 minutes? Perhaps start to bake a cake, or call a friend, or take the dogs for a walk. The trick here is to act as if things aren't hopeless, and not overthink it. As Nike says, "Just Do It!" Practice optimism every day in small steps; just as you didn't start feeling hopeless overnight, so will it take time to get back to feeling hopeful.
Change One Small Thing A Day
If you've been feeling hopeless for a long time, then you've probably also neglected yourself and the daily chores. Try to change one small thing every day. If you've neglected your hygiene, then take a shower and wash your hair. Maybe you haven't changed the linen on your bed for too long; do it today. Do you sit up way past midnight watching TV? Go to bed at ten. It's likely that your feelings of hopelessness have left daily chores and routines undone. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once; just change one small thing a day.
Low self-esteem is a product of feeling hopeless. Completing the smallest chore will give you a sense of achievement and self-worth. It's its reward, and if you complete one small task a day, your self-esteem improves, and you've taken another step towards replacing hopelessness with the possibility that life can get better.
Never Give Up
This may not be the first article you've read on how to stop feeling hopeless and start to live life. You may already have tried therapy and everything in this article and much more, and nothing has worked for you. Don't give up. The smallest change in therapy or activities can make a big difference. Keep looking for new therapies and new techniques until you achieve success.
Contact us at BetterHelp; our trained therapists will help you on your journey to a more optimistic future where you can once again start living life with enjoyment and passion.