12 Ways to Stop Feeling Hopeless and Find Hope in Tough Times

Rachel Sharpe

Feeling hopeless in a situation doesn’t help you get out of a mess. It usually spirals you further into it. I can’t imagine how difficult your situation is. You could be a cancer patient being told that you only have a few months left to live, a person battling a severe case of depression or anxiety, or someone who’s dated a ton for years never finding the right person. The good news is that feeling hopeless is an emotional state, and all emotional states can be changed. In this article, we’re going to help you find hope in tough times to help you stop feeling hopeless and turn your situation around no matter how bad your situation is. 

12 Ways to Stop Feeling Hopeless

1. Change Your Environment

When we reach a point of hopelessness, it’s often due to a toxic or negative environment we’re in. If we’re surrounded by positive people who constantly challenge our negative thoughts, it’s impossible to spiral into hopelessness. Who have you been hanging around lately? Are you able to find happy people to spend more time with? Or are you spending way too much time in your head, following all your thoughts down a never-ending rabbit hole until you make yourself sick with despair? In that case, you might just need to spend more time with people. Are there ways you can make your current environment better? Can you bring a pet into your life? Decorate your home with plants and positive posters? Maybe try creating a list of positive songs to uplift your mental state a bit. The good news is you don’t need to run off to a foreign country to make a change in your environment. A few tweaks here and there can make a big difference to combat hopeless feelings. 

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2. Make Today Your Best Day

Sometimes, you get a prognosis that doesn’t look good. You find out someone you love dearly is dying or maybe that someone is you. Unfortunately, we don’t have superpowers that can heal the dying. But while you’re still alive focus on making today your best day. When my husband’s father was dying of cancer, I told him to take time off work and spend his last weeks with his dad asking him questions to get to know everything about him before he lost those untold stories for good. It helped him cherish those final moments with him while giving him his last few opportunities to bond with his dad. Maybe making today your best day won’t be you jumping out of a plane and feeling a sense of exhilaration. Maybe it’s simply spending as much time with people you love as you can while everyone’s still here. Because life is about being with other people and carrying all those special moments in our hearts. Some of the best days of my life have just been me hanging out with people I love talking about funny memories. So, if you’ve been feeling hopeless about an unchangeable situation, try to make the most of your time with people you love. 

3. Become a Positivity Machine

Two women hugging out in the street

The science of neuroplasticity is proof that our brains are completely changeable. There are countless books about how your personality isn’t permanent. And we all know that everything in life is temporary. That’s what makes life wonderful after all. So, if you’ve been feeling hopeless lately, take small steps towards positivity to bring back hope into your life. Read books about psychology to help you learn how to rewire your brain to be more hopeful. Change some of your habits to improve your odds with the challenges you’re facing. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. So, if what you’ve been doing isn’t working, maybe it’s time to try something new. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself each day to help maintain a positive mindset even in the face of adversity. 

4. Practice Gratitude

People who practice gratitude everyday overcome obstacles easier and quicker than those who don’t. Practicing gratitude is about taking a bit of the focus on what’s wrong to focus on what’s right. Even in the harshest winters of our lives, we can find warmth and positivity in our lives. Do we have the support of at least one person? Do we have someone to talk to? Are we able to move our bodies? If you’re unsure of what things to be grateful for, you can check out this gratitude list for ideas. So, if you’re feeling hopeless in life, take some time to write down a list of what you’re grateful for every single day for the next eight weeks. And note changes in your mood and your outlook on the situation to determine if it helps you slowly improve. 

5. Practice Kindness

If you’re feeling hopeless, you can completely change your situation by practicing kindness. Doing one good deed a day can help you see what truly matters in life. Maybe you’re in a situation where there’s no cure or treatment for what you’re going through. By doing an act of kindness everyday, you allow yourself to continue to have a meaningful and purposeful life while you can. Maybe you share stories of what you’ve always appreciated about others who take you to chemotherapy. Or maybe you start a blog sharing your story with others to give them a feeling of hope. 

Here’s the wonderful thing about practicing kindness when feeling hopeless. It shifts your brain from spiraling down a negative vortex into a compassionate and positive mindset. And by doing that, you’ll likely be able to live a bit longer than odds stacked against you because your immune system is strong. It takes some training to be able to practice kindness when you’re in pain, depressed, or suffering. And so this is one of those big life challenges to see what you’re made of. And by doing this, you’ll notice that you’ll start to feel and be a lot happier and hopeful. By taking the emphasis off your situation, you realize you stop feeling hopeless without even thinking about it. 

6. Reflect On The Good Times

Woman looking up and thinking

If you’re going through a big life event that isn’t working in your favor: terminal illness, divorce, jail time, or other difficult moment, focus on some of the good times you’ve had in your life. Rather than looking at the situation as resentment or us vs them, focus on how many good moments you’ve had in your life. Maybe you have kids that you’ll be separated from more often, which is extremely hard to go through. But this could be the exact moment in your life that shapes you into becoming the person you’re destined to be.

So, often we look at a tough moment and think “I can’t believe someone would do that to me.” And the bitterness makes us angrier and vengeful. And those emotions don’t make our lives better but so much worse. It’s important to look at the people who’ve challenged you in life with a sense of gratitude. Think about the time when your ex made you laugh so hard you couldn’t breathe. Or how you now have a wonderful child who inspires you everyday. Use those happy moments to remind you that you can and will have those moments again (even if they’re with different people) if you focus on what’s good about a situation. You will be happy again. You will be hopeful again. Use happy memories to help you make smart decisions to be at peace with the cards you’ve been dealt and to slowly rebuild your life anew.

7. Remember That Everything Is Temporary

A feeling of hopelessness can seem permanent. Fortunately, it isn’t. There isn’t anything in life that doesn’t change, evolve, or end. So, if you’re in a dark pit fearing a sense of permanence, there’s no need to worry. Your experience, no matter how painful, will change. Your emotional state to the situation will also change. There may be moments where you cry for weeks on end and one day you feel a sense of peace and calm over the situation. There’ll be a moment where you finally give yourself permission to accept things as they are. And when that day comes, you’ll smile a quiet smile to yourself.

When feeling hopeless, it’s important to accept that which is out of your control. Everything that is in your control, feel free to change or modify in anyway you’d like. But if it’s not in your control, don’t start looking for miracle cures on the internet because that’s not what’s going to bring a sense of hope back into your life. It’s simply just going to make the process of acceptance take longer. Sometimes, life will force us to lose people or things we never wanted to lose. And we need to learn to let go, because they were never ours to keep in the first place. 

8. Remind Yourself Of How Far You’ve Come

When you’re feeling hopeless about your situation, it’s important to take a step back and look at how far you’ve come. You’ve changed and evolved so much over the years. You’ve improved so many aspects of your life. And while you might not want to play with the cards you’ve been dealt, it’s important to realize you were dealt those cards because you’re strong enough to rise to the challenge.

Think about some of those crushing moments you’ve faced in your life. Those times you felt like you were buried under 6 feet of dirt, where you thought you weren’t going to make it. Those moments you felt your whole world collapsed. And then, after a bit of time and effort, you got through that rough patch. You came out stronger and better than ever. You’re built to withstand tough times. If anyone can face this difficult moment you’re up against, it’s you. And you’re going to crush it and make the most of all this horrible, painful experience. And when you finally get through it, you’re going to help people who are at the start of what you just finished. Use that as your motivation when you’re starting to feel hopeless again. 

9. Your Mind Tends to Lean Negative

Man lost in thought, looking at water

The right brain is your creative brain, it’s nonverbal, and your subconscious. It’s the most well networked part of your brain. Your left brain, on the other hand, is kind of a loner. It doesn’t have as many connections. As a result, to get your attention, it constantly sends you negative thoughts to get you to notice it. Since your left brain is the verbal and conscious part of your brain, you’re more likely to stay hooked on what’s going on in your head. However, by developing your right brain more through meditation, creative hobbies, or right brain activities, you can learn to shut down your left brain and ultimately the thoughts that led you to feeling hopeless in the first place. After all, it’s not you who feels hopeless, but your thoughts telling you that’s how you should be feeling in this situation. But there’s always another perspective (your right brain’s perspective) which you can lean into to make peace with your current situation. 

10. Focus On Solutions

If you’re battling mental health challenges like PTSD, you might feel like you’ll never recover from it. It’s possible that what you’re facing can become the new viewpoint at how you look at the world. Maybe you’ll always see life through the lens of this trauma. But as someone who has been through trauma as well, I can happily tell you that you’ll still have happy, positive, and uplifting moments even after facing hopeless situations. The one question I always ask myself when I can’t find the light at the end of the tunnel is, “how can I make tomorrow a little bit better than today?” Tomorrow likely won’t be better than today, things don’t change that fast. However, you can learn to take the small baby step that moves you into a positive direction. You can focus on doing right brained activities like mentioned earlier to shift your mindset in a more positive direction so you can clearly think about solutions out of a hopeless situation. 

11. Spend Time With People Who Uplift You

When feeling hopeless, it’s important to look around at our circle of friends and family and ask ourselves honestly, “Am I hanging around positive people?” It’s possible that those you love most aren’t actually keeping your outlook positive. You might even have people in your immediate circle who are making things worse. Maybe the people around you are trying to convince you to get revenge on the person who hurt you or they’re crying in hysterics and acting like the hopeless situation is happening to them instead of you. Sometimes, you just need to step out of your environment and find a friend or relative who knows the right thing to say or the best way to support you. We all know that one person who makes us laugh or helps calm our panic attacks in stressful situations. This is the time to reach out to that person, even if it’s been a while. People love helping others because it makes them feel needed and valued. 

12. Practice Meditation

10 Minute Guided Meditation for Inner Peace and Relaxation
10 Minute Guided Meditation for Inner Peace and Relaxation

Feeling hopeless is a mental state. Fortunately, with a regular meditation practice, we can learn to stop feeling hopeless. Meditation is about learning to watch your thoughts instead of reacting or acting upon them. We’ve all experienced thoughts that made us cry or hurt us. And sadly, that hurt and pain is our own doing. But there is a way to catch yourself in a train of thought to stop yourself from making yourself suffer more than you need to. Most of our suffering takes place in our mind rather than in reality. With meditation, you can work to eliminate or drastically reduce the suffering your mind makes you go through. You can try our guided meditation for inner peace to help you feel a sense of calm when feeling hopeless. 

Conclusion

Feeling hopeless is a temporary emotional state. We all go through challenging moments in life that push us to our limits. Unfortunately, sometimes the situations we’re forced to deal with make us sad or are difficult to process. Some things in life are completely out of our control. If it’s within our control, we can change our environment, spend time with uplifting people, practice meditation, work on improving our mind, reflect on the good times, and practice gratitude and kindness to help us accept the cards we’ve been dealt. May you feel a sense of acceptance in your current situation which helps you overcome feeling hopeless. 

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