7 Ways To Stop Feeling Hopeless

Updated May 30, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

In situations that feel out of your control, it can be common to become hopeless. However, when this feeling persists, especially over an extended period, it can be a symptom of a larger problem. Some mental health conditions, like depression, can involve feelings of hopelessness, leading the individual to believe that things will never get better. These emotions can be daunting, which is why seeking support can be vital if you’re feeling this way. This article will outline seven steps you can take if you no longer enjoy the things you used to or if you feel powerless and helpless. 


Definition Of Hopelessness

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hopelessness as not expecting good or success, despairing, not being susceptible to remedy or cure, and being incapable of redemption or improvement. If you're feeling dejected most of the time, and you've lost interest in activities and people, you might be experiencing hopelessness. The following are seven tips that may help you reduce these difficult feelings. 

#1 Therapy

Whether your hopelessness is the result of the loss of a loved one, the result of childhood trauma and abuse, or a mood disorder, therapy could help you through it. Depending on your situation and needs, you may participate in a number of different kinds of therapy, which can take place in person or online. Everyone’s journey is different, and it might take you longer to heal than it would someone else. Different types of therapy that can be helpful for overcoming hopelessness include:

  • Grief counseling: The death of a close family member, friend, or beloved pet can leave us feeling hopeless and powerless. Grief is a natural emotional response to loss, but that doesn't make it any less painful. Grief counseling can help you through the dark days of bereavement to a life that seems worth living again.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a widely used therapy technique to treat hopelessness and depression. CBT can help you break down big problems into smaller parts and gives you practical ways to change negative thinking into more hopeful thinking patterns. Like all therapeutic techniques, it's not a quick fix, but day by day your state of mind can improve until you achieve success.
  • Other therapies: Several other therapy techniques can successfully manage and treat feelings of hopelessness. Having an initial chat with a therapist, counselor, or another mental health provider could help. A professional can guide you toward the types of therapy that could be most effective for you. In addition to therapy, there are some things you can do yourself to improve your emotional well-being and start living life again.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, reach out right away to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.

#2 Change How You Think About Happiness

When we've lost someone or something important to us, we may move toward feelings of hopelessness and despair. We might tell ourselves that we can't be happy without that person or thing in our lives and feel that we will never be able to move forward. However, changing how you think about happiness can help. In particular, it can be beneficial to consider where your happiness comes from. Does it come from outside sources, or from within? When you’re able to build a foundation of contentment within yourself that isn’t dependent on other people or things, you may be less vulnerable to pain. While life still has its ups and downs, you’re often able to navigate these obstacles more easily when your happiness remains steady, and you feel assure.

#3 Affirmations

Studies have shown the powerful impact that affirmations can have on the brain. Affirmations are phrases or statements that help you view yourself and your abilities in a more positive light. Once you find a few that you like, you can practice repeating them to yourself daily or weekly. Depending on the area you’d like to grow in, you might use a quote like “My happiness is in my own hands,” “I have all that I need,” or “I am capable.” You can paste your affirmations somewhere you’ll see them, such as the refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, or inside your car. Try to repeat them out loud whenever you look at them. Almost anyone can use positive affirmations to feel less hopeless.

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#4 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. However, you can challenge this thought by doing just one thing each day that makes you happy. Even amidst your hopelessness, you may still be able to feel pleasure at the touch of sunshine on your face or a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. Walking your dogs, giving an old friend a call, or doing volunteer work could all be ways to lift your sense of despair even a little. Over time, these efforts may show you that a different future is possible.

#5 Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts

It can be important to recognize that your thoughts and emotions are not facts. When negative, unhelpful, or hurtful thoughts and feelings arise, try to challenge them by entertaining the notion that they could be wrong. The first step to changing your thoughts is identifying them. There are many different types of cognitive distortions you might be prone to experiencing. When you notice you’re having an unhelpful thought, begin by gathering evidence against it. Ask questions and get curious about where the thought is stemming from. Oftentimes, you’ll find that the thought or feeling isn’t true, but rather a result of anxiety, depression, fear, shame, or something else. Once you’ve disproven the thought, replace it with something more positive and helpful. 

#6 Practice Optimism

There's a school of thought that believes we only must 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 probably all be permanently happy, and few people would feel hopeless again. It's more than likely that your feelings of hopelessness are built up over a period of years. Therefore, it’s usually going to take more than waking up one morning and saying, "Today I'm going to be happy!" to change the way you feel.

However, you can still practice optimism. You could practice mindfulness, note the things and people you’re grateful for, and discover what gives you hope in your life. You can incorporate optimism into your life little by little each day. It can take time to get back to feeling hopeful.

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#7 Change One Small Thing A Day

If you've been feeling hopeless for a while, you may also be lacking motivation in your daily life. Perhaps you’ve been neglecting yourself and your responsibilities. To overcome this, attempt to change just one small thing each day. For example, if you’ve been neglecting your hygiene, try to take a shower and wash your hair. If you can’t remember the last time you changed the sheets, consider washing and changing them. Low self-esteem is typically a product of feeling hopeless. Completing even the smallest chore can give you a sense of achievement and self-worth. It’s not necessary to overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything all at once. Instead, make just one change per day. These can add up over time and help you to feel like yourself again. 

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

If you’re struggling with feeling helpless, it can be vital to seek support. BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that can connect you with a therapist from anywhere at any time. Whether you want to talk from your couch, bed, or porch, it’s possible with BetterHelp. Mental health concerns like depression can make it difficult to get out of bed, but online therapy allows you to still get the care you need without extra effort or stress. Trained therapists can help you on your journey to a more optimistic future where you can once again start living life with enjoyment and passion.

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

Individuals feeling hopeless may benefit from online counseling. In a review of an internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention, researchers found that participants with major depression “showed a statistically significant improvement in symptoms compared with people on a waiting list.” CBT is a therapeutic framework that teaches people how to replace their negative thoughts with more helpful ones. 

The Takeaway

Helplessness can be a symptom of a more serious issue, such as depression. While there are steps you can take on your own to reduce your feelings of helplessness, they may not always be enough. In some cases, speaking with a professional may be necessary for your healing. Working with an online counselor from the comfort of your home, you can learn new coping skills and find ways to move forward in a healthy manner.

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