How to Turn Feelings of Hopelessness into Hope

The unprecedented adversities of the past year and a half have caused many teens and adults to feel helplessness, anxious, and other negative emotions. While some normality has returned, concerns around the new Delta variant and a surge of COVID cases have caused more uncertainty. Thoughts like “Are things going to close down again?” and “Will my event get canceled?” are often running through people’s mind. While there is no way to know with certainty that things will go as we would like, there are ways to regain hope and feel empowered in the face of uncertainty.

What Is Hope?

Hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Research shows that hope can help us deal with stress and anxiety. Hope is important because it contributes to our well-being and happiness and can motivate positive action. It’s a feeling that helps provide comfort and persistence during difficult times.

Ways to Regain Hope

When we feel hopeless, we often also feel helpless because we feel like we have no control. Although we cannot control all situations, we CAN control how we respond and move forward. Here are some ways teens and adults can regain hope even during the most challenging times:

Realize that you have the ability. When it seems the world is against you because one bad thing is happening after another, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. During these times, it’s important to remember that you have core competencies that can get you through even the worst obstacles. Consider the resources that you have inside of you. Problem-solving, creativity, and perseverance are all examples of attributes you may have that can help you move forward with hope.

Think about past times when you have successfully overcome other challenges. While the circumstances may be different, it can be beneficial to think back on past hard times, and that as you moved through that experience, you probably even learned something new about your own personal strength.

Lean into gratitude. By focusing on the small things in your life that feel good, it helps you generate more positivity energy to face challenging situations. Take time to reflect before your day gets started or at the end of the day, create a gratitude journal, or post a spot to write “I am thankful for…” and fill in a new statement each day.

Practice self-care. It is important to take care of oneself.  This can mean different things to different people. Ultimately, it’s the choices we deliberately make to move us forward in a positive way. This may include:

  • Ensuring a healthy work/life balance
  • Practicing relaxation exercises and meditation
  • Journaling feelings
  • Doing things that make you happy
  • Exercising (choosing a form that you enjoy)
  • Not saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” (don’t overcommit)

Always remember that your future is brimming with possibilities. Regardless of the things that may happen outside of your control, you have the power to respond in a way that gives you hope, generates positivity, energy, and creates personal happiness.

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