8 Ways to Find Hope in Difficult Times
There’s no doubt that these are times of great stress. Helping ourselves and others right now can be a powerful way to gain some control in our lives when we feel helpless. Being hopeful and acting on that hope is one way we can gain some control.
Hopeful people are known to nourish their hopes rather than their sadness and pain. Here are eight ways we can nourish purpose and inspiration in our daily lives when life seems bleak.
- Discover ways to laugh
Each day, rise and think of ways to bring more laughter into your world and those around you. Have an old friend who makes you laugh? Call them up and relive fun memories. Play a card or board game or act out charades with family. Find humorous books to read. Line up a comedy movie to watch. Search for good news on the internet. Sites are popping up all over with good news that makes us smile, like actor John Krasinki’s Some Good News. We can’t think negative thoughts when we are smiling, so plan to add more smiles to your day.
- Be accepting
Change can be scary, especially right now. It removes what we know in our life and brings unfamiliarity. Choosing to react positively to change can help us find peace with it, instead of spending time and energy fighting it. Try to focus on what is put in front of you today and accept it as, “okay, this is what I’m supposed to be doing and I’ll figure it out one day at a time.” Going with the flow is a good motto right now and a way to create some comfort with change.
- Accept support when needed
While the crisis facing us is daunting and scary, one comfort is knowing that we are not alone in it. Some people need more help than others, whether it’s financially or with food shopping or caregiving. If you need help, you don’t have to face your troubles all alone. Ask friends and family to lend a hand. We’re all in this together and can help each other in big and small ways. If you don’t have friends or family who can assist, look to local or government resources for aid. The United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline can connect you with community resources.
- Connect with positive people
Even when we strive to be positive in difficult situations, it can be hard to keep it up on our own. This is a good time to refrain from engaging negative people as they can make a challenging event seem much worse. Surrounding yourself with positive thinkers will help keep you feeling hopeful and balanced. When the world seems like a dark place, optimistic and hopeful people can often bring out the best in us and keep us in good mental health. Be that person who posts positive messages on your social feeds to rise above the noise of the bad news.
- Practice gratitude and appreciation
The smallest act of kindness and appreciation can have a huge impact on others. Giving someone a smile, saying “thank you” or offering a compliment, are all small ways to lift the mood of others around you. We know it can be easy to focus on all the wrong in the world and our lives right now, but we can be grateful for what is right is in our lives. Each day we can practice feeling grateful with what we still do have whether it’s our family, our health, or friends to boost our spirits. We are all grieving normal life right now and showing appreciation to others helps drive positivity and enables us to cope. Remember that those around us are feeling scared and unsure, and messages of appreciation can go a long way to help them feel better, too.
- Create a kudos journal
Each day strive to see a success you’ve managed—no matter how big or small—and give yourself a pat on the back. At the end of each day write down your successes. Somedays, just making family meals and spending time together can be considered a victory. Recording your kudos list daily can help you see over time how you are managing this crisis well, and help you see the wonder in the little things. When you’re feeling particularly low, go back through your journal and read your entries as a reminder of your victories. Better yet, share the entries with family or friends and let them be a part of the successes.
- Exercise inside or out
Exercise is known to decrease stress, increase energy and improve mood. If you can, get outside and walk or bike around a park or your neighborhood. This is a good time to try out online exercise videos. Many gyms are also offering live Zoom workout sessions as well. Focusing on exercise will offer a break from worry and anxiety over events and people, much of which we have no control over. Yoga is a great way to exercise and strengthen the mind and body. Getting out to exercise will also enable you to deal better with isolation.
Take a break from all those screens in your life: your computer, iPad, phone, etc. Create a new unplugged bucket lists of things to do. Call a friend to chat, cook a new recipe, grab a book from your to-be-read pile, do a puzzle, keep your mind sharp with Sudoku or clean out that garage you’ve been meaning to do for some time. Too much screen time can negatively affect our mood and our mental health, so be sure to step away from those screens and take breaks throughout the day.
Jack Layton, a Canadian politician, once said “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.” By being grateful, hopeful and optimistic we can sustain hope in even the darkest of times.