Recently I’ve realised how common a feeling of hopelessness is among people of all ages. From chatting to my 89 year old Granda who has been very down lately because of his health, to talking to friends struggling mentally and feeling stuck with their anxiety/depression and as though there is no way out. I’ve been thinking about how important hope is to have but then realised that I don’t really know how you go about getting it back. Or do you just have to wait until it finds you again?
After not getting a job I really wanted and also getting down about my IBS symptoms, I recently fell into a pit of hopelessness for a few days and it reminded me how awful a feeling it is. It really can feel like you’ve tumbled down a 1000 ft shaft with no way of getting back out. Here is a list I made of ways to start the climb or at least help with the wait until life drops you down a ladder:
1) Remind yourself of previous times you’ve felt hopeless so that you know this feeling is temporary.
This is where writing in a journal when you’re feeling worried/down can be really helpful because then in a few months time you will probably be able to look back at what you wrote and see that your worries have now been resolved. Similarly, when you are feeling hopeless you can look back in your journal at the last time you felt like this and this will remind you that it isn’t a permanent state as you got out of it last time and you will do the same again.
Just like the weather can change from stormy to pure sunshine in a day (trust me this is very common in the U.K.), your life can change just as quickly. When you look outside and see that it is bucketing, you don’t think that it’s never going to stop. You know that although today may be rainy, tomorrow might be brighter, and even if not tomorrow, you know that the change in weather is coming and that it won’t rain forever. Apply the same thinking and certainty to your current feelings. Know that like clouds, they too will blow over eventually.
2) Force yourself to carry on with your daily tasks even if they seem pointless, as you’ll just feel even lower if you neglect them. So struggle out of our bed and into the warm shower. Then go downstairs in your fluffy slippers and make your porridge. Even though your brain is constantly telling you, “This is pointless. What are you doing this for if there is no hope?” carry on as normal. Your future self who has rediscovered hope will be glad you did.
3) Write a list of all the things you still want to see/experience in life. Like a kind of bucket list. This will help get you excited about life again and remind you how much there is to look forward to and all the possibilities living holds.
4) Enjoy some simple things like the taste of chocolate or your favourite biscuit dunked in your tea. Put on a funny TV show or have a laugh on the phone with a friend. These things will keep your head up until a ladder appears which it will! You may just have to wait the storm out a while so try keep your spirits up as best you can and keep occupied in the meantime.
5) Stephen Hawking said, “While there is life, there is hope.” And I am in love with this (you can listen to the full thing here). It even inspired me to write these short poems (they’re pretty basic but I like the idea that hope never really leaves us). Erin Hanson also has the best ever poem on hopelessness (I seriously recommend reading it and more of her poems) which includes the line, “I know that it’s not hopeless but that your hope’s just hard to find,”. So you’re never without hope, it may just be hidden behind the clouds of emotions you’re currently experiencing but these will blow over with time.
6)Tell someone how you’re feeling. I’m a great believer in talking things out. Often we blow things out of proportion a bit in our own heads and so others can help us to see that things are not as bad as they seem and give us a much needed outsiders perspective of our situation.
7) Some songs I’d highly recommend listening to when you’re feeling hopeless are:
(I’ve included some good lyrics lyrics from each song too)
Angel by the Wings – Sia. “Take an angel by the wings, time to tell her everything, ask her for the strength to stay”
Unstoppable – Sia. “I put my armour on. I’ll show you how strong I am…I’m unstoppable today.”
Reaper – Sia. “I wanna dance in the autumn breeze, feel the wind in my hair, hear the ocean sing, I got good things to feel in my life”
Heaven Can Wait – Sia, Diplo, Labrinth. “See I gotta live…I gotta love…Said I gotta breathe…No, this ain’t it for me.”
Hold On – Extreme Music. “It’s time to start remembering dreams. Lift your eyes to the things unseen. Remember who you wanna be. Let the light hit your eyes.”
Battle Cry – Angel Haze, Sia. “Sometimes you have to hurt for the cause to be reached. But one day you’ll be stronger than all that you beat.”
Burn the Pages – Sia. “Yesterday is gone and you will be OK. Place your past into a book. Burn the pages let them cook.”
Glorious – Macklemore, Skylar Grey. “I feel glorious, glorious. Got a chance to start again. I was born for this, born for this. It’s who I am, how could I forget?”
Get it right – Diplo, MØ. “All my dreams are running wild. I am going to chase them down. They said you’re gonna lose your mind. Hurry up you’re out of time. I said I will rise and shine even in the coldest night. ‘Cause I’m gonna get it right.”
All falls down – Alan Walker, Noah Cyrus, Digital Farm Animals, Juliander. “When it all falls down then whatever. When it don’t work out for the better…I’ll be fine.”
Clearly – Grace VanderWaal. “There’s a world outside my door. I force my feet down to the floor. I’m gonna make it out…All the pain in my sorrow, won’t change today, only ruin tomorrow.”
Smile – Timi Yuro. “When there are clouds way up in the sky, you’re gonna get by…You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”
Music is honestly the way I manage most of my emotions. And as shown by my list, Sia is in my opinion the QUEEN of uplifting and motivational songs.
Hope that some of these ideas can help you hold on until things look up again which they 100% will.
(Little disclaimer: if you feel hopeless very often or it lasts a long time, consider chatting to your doctor about it because although feeling hopeless on occasion is normal, if it’s a prolonged feeling you may need some help to sort it 🙂 )