Dr. Jen Hartstein, Yahoo Life Mental Health Contributor, spoke to Yahoo Life about how she recommends ways to hold onto hope at a time when things feel hopeless. “When we're feeling hopeless, it is very easy to say stuck there and we become a magnet for every piece of negativity.” she says, “The longer we sit in those feelings, the harder it gets to move out of that.”
JEN HARTSTEIN: There's a pandemic, there's politics, there's racial tension. There's so many things that can consume you. When we're feeling hopeless, it is very easy to say stuck there. One of the things you really want to talk about is tips to create hope at a time of things being hopeless.
There are lots of reasons why many of us are feeling hopeless, not the least of which is that we are living in a time of great uncertainty. Most of us crave structure and crave routine. We like knowing what we can rely upon. And when we don't have that, we feel kind of lost in this whirl of emotion. And we just don't know what to hold onto.
Many of us are afraid. We're afraid about getting sick. We're afraid that our loved ones are getting sick. We're afraid of losing our jobs. We're afraid of our jobs not coming back. We get stuck there. And our minds race. And our thoughts go down really negative paths.
We have lost the lives we knew. And we don't really know when they're coming back, if they're coming back. And maybe we've lost loved ones to the pandemic. Maybe we lost loved ones for other illnesses. But we can't honor them in the way we might want. And for some younger people, they've lost big milestones. And sadness feeds into a sense of hopelessness.
For many people, we're isolated, and we're alone. And loneliness is one of the biggest triggers to depression and to sadness and to a sense of hopelessness.
Another area of struggle for many of us, is that we're forced to re-evaluate the things that are important. Our sense of how we're protecting ourselves is very different, and it's creating divide. And that may mean ending relationships that maybe we've had. And for many, that can be overwhelming.
So we have to find the good. Everything around us might be a lousy and overwhelming, and you're not getting what you want. But there is probably one thing a day that you can notice that's good. Maybe you had a beautiful walk outside where you got to enjoy nature. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering and life-changing. Find the good every day.
Being mindful, so we want to be able to slow down, be actively present in our lives. The more we do that, the more we recognize how we can problem solve, how we can create change.
Embrace the change. There is no other choice. Just when you think you've got a plan, you have to change the plan. Hold onto it. Embrace it. Enjoy the ride because sometimes there's nothing else you can do.
We also want to think about how to create boundaries because some people, they're going to be like, come over, let's hug, let's not enforce six feet, and you're super-uncomfortable with that. No is a full sentence. And boundaries often start with no. You don't have to feel guilty about doing what works for you.
Learn how to practice radical acceptance. It is the true definition of it is what it is. This is how life is right now. It may not always be this way. We can suffer less and actually engage in our lives more. It is important to recognize how you're feeling. Validate how you're feeling. And then figure out how to problem solve your way out of that feeling to be engaged in your life in a meaningful way so that you're not just stuck in your own misery, but you can actually be engaged in the good.