Feeling hopeless can be absolutely debilitating.
It can cause you to isolate yourself from your friends, stop exercising, and stop doing the things you used to love, which only adds to your sadness and feelings of hopelessness.
Often, feelings of hopelessness coexist with other negative feelings that prevent you from living your best life.
You may have low self-worth, social anxiety, or even depression.
With any of these issues, you can spiral down in a whirlpool of sadness and isolation that leaves you wondering if you'll ever have hope again.
It’s hard to improve your life when you feel like there is no point in even trying.
However, acknowledging your feelings and taking action to improve your situation is the only way to gain some traction on the road to feeling better.
51 Of The Best Ways To Battle Feelings of Hopelessness
How to Stop Feeling Hopeless
1. Question your hopelessness.
When you're hopeless, you often feel like it is pointless to try, which can lead to an endless cycle of hopelessness.
In order to stop this, you must challenge your hopelessness. Simply think about the possibility that you could be wrong — you might have a reason for hope.
Decide to act despite your hopelessness, know that your negative thoughts could be flawed.
2. Take initiative.
Experiment a bit with optimism by doing things you don't necessarily want to do but that might make things better.
Go for a run or go out to dinner with some friends. Take the initiative to prove your hopelessness wrong.
Do something that feels like a small accomplishment to prove to yourself that life isn't a lost caused.
3. Look at the things that aren't hopeless.
Instead of constantly thinking about the things you can't change, look at the wide range of things that you can change.
Let's say your job is a hopeless situation at the moment. You've been fired, and there's nothing you can do to change that.
But what about everything else in your life that is working well or that you have the power to impact?
Rather than ruminating on the feelings of hopelessness about the job loss, focus on what you do have control over.
4. Recognize there are many facets to your wellbeing.
You may assume that the issue you feel hopeless about completely controls your wellbeing. You may be laser-focused on the constraints or challenges you face, unable to see beyond them.
But take a moment to review the other facets of your life that contribute to your wellbeing — family, friends, health, etc.
Even if you have just one thing to feel grateful for, you have a reason for hope.
5. Live in the moment.
Almost always, the present moment is perfectly fine. It is our thoughts about the past or future that cause our suffering and hopelessness.
What is going on right now? Is this a hopeless moment?
Ground yourself in the present moment by focusing on your breathing and the things around you. Work on a simple task, like washing dishes or folding clothes, and pay full attention to every action and sensation.
When you are present in the moment, you divert your negative thoughts and give yourself a reprieve from sad and anxious feelings.
6. Remember that life is constantly changing.
Change is the one constant in life. You may feel hopeless today, but the odds are high that something will occur in the not too distant future to give you hope.
Sometimes you need to just let time pass and distract yourself while engaging in other areas of your life.
7. How have you overcome similar things in the past?
When you're going through a tough time, it’s normal to be afraid, doubt yourself, and have pessimistic thoughts that you can't overcome the obstacles you're facing.
You forget that challenges always feel insurmountable until you get through them. You have overcome similar situations in the past, so consider how you did it last time.
Draw on the lessons and insights you've learned from past experiences to help ride out this storm.
8. Look at the big picture.
We have to remember that your problems are just a fraction of everything that’s going on in your life.
You can't allow the fear and anxiety to take over your mind. Change the channel in your brain so that you aren't tuned into the same negative mental messages over and over.
One of the best ways to divert yourself from feelings of hopelessness is to help someone else who is suffering. This helps you recognize that you aren't alone and that you may have more to feel hopeful about than you assumed.
9. Focus on gratitude.
Don't allow the darkness to cover up your stars.
The setbacks you face in life cannot take away any of your skills, knowledge, degrees, experiences, and loved ones. Maintain a thankful heart for the bright stars in your life.
Start a gratitude journal, and write down all of your blessings every day — even the smallest ones.
Focusing on gratitude has been proven to improve your mood and give you a reason for hope.
10. Find just one thing to change.
It might not be easy to make a change, but if you can start small and find one thing you can do to improve your life, it can make a difference.
For example, you could sign up for an exercise class and promise yourself to go at least once a week. Hopelessness thrives on the belief that nothing will change. Challenge this faulty belief.
The smallest act of change can trigger a wellspring of hope. If nothing else, you will be able to show yourself that you haven't given up.
11. Set achievable goals.
Making progress toward something on a regular basis can lift your mood.
Set reasonable goals, such as applying to one job per week or finishing one major task for work every day, and work toward your goal on a regular basis.
If you have a bigger goal in mind, break it down into smaller goals so you can easily watch your progress.
12. Be a child again.
Until they learn from society that they have to plan for the future, children simply live in the present moment without worrying about tomorrow.
A child may be sad in the moment over a broken toy, but they move on quickly to find joy in another game or distraction.
Try to remember what it means to live without needing to hope that things will change and just accept what is. This is especially beneficial in situations that you can't change.
13. Examine the evidence.
Don't jump to any conclusions. You can't overgeneralize or have all-or-nothing thinking.
Many who feel hopeless wrongly assume that there is no one on their side, nor will there ever be.
Get outside of your head to determine if your thinking is an accurate reflection of the things going on around you.
Most people who feel hopeless overgeneralize by only looking at a small sample of experiences. But if you look at more people, you will see more hope-promoting responses.
14. Learn about hopelessness.
One of the best ways to deal with hopeless thinking is to learn about this issue and its points of vulnerability.
With this knowledge, you will be able to work to weaken the vulnerable points until your feelings of hopelessness fade.
15. You haven't tried everything.
You may think you have, but there is always something out there that you haven't done yet. Remember that wherever there are options, there is hope.
What is one small thing you could try today?
16. Look at it from an outsider's perspective.
Try to come up with some creative solutions that you wouldn't normally think of.
Do some research to find studies or success stories that confirm your new plan will work for you.
Or reach out to a friend, mentor, or counselor to brainstorm strategies for improving your situation.
17. Hope breeds hope.
Focus on anything in your life that makes you feel hopeful about your future. Cling to this glimmer of positivity like it's your lifeboat.
This will help you release your feelings of hopelessness before they creep into more areas of your life.
If You Are Feeling Hopeless and Depressed
18. Remember that the future is unknown.
Write down some positive possibilities for your future.
As you think of things that might happen, you will find renewed faith in yourself and in the unknown future, which could very well bring the good instead of the bad that you fear.
19. Change your view of happiness.
Consider your current assumptions about what it means to be happy. Then, think about what you are waiting for to make you happy,
Is it a new job? A relationship? If so, try to focus on yourself instead.
Remember, inner happiness doesn't come from outside sources. If you are not happy with yourself, you will not be happy when your circumstances change.
20. Avoid isolation.
Don’t isolate yourself from the outside world, even if you really feel like being alone. Isolation will make your feelings of depression and hopelessness grow stronger.
Go out with friends or family to do something fun. Even going to a coffee store and just sitting near other people can help you feel less alone.
Exercise is an effective was to boost your mood. Try to get thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day.
If you don't feel like going outside for a run or joining a workout class, try jumping on a rebounder at home.
Remember, consistent workouts will benefit you more than intense yet infrequent workouts, so don’t overdo it while you're working out.
22. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Drugs and alcohol will alter your mood and help you get away from your feelings temporarily, but these substances will make you feel worse with time.
Alcohol is a depressant and can add to your feelings of hopelessness. Using recreational drugs can be a slippery slope, especially when your mental health is already suffering.
It is best to avoid drugs and alcohol completely when you are feeling hopeless.
23. Explore your options.
Life doesn’t have to be about finding just one thing that you are meant to do and then doing it forever.
Instead, try finding something you feel passionate about and focus on becoming proficient at it.
There’s so much out there to discover. Whatever you are enjoying now might not be the same thing you enjoy forever, but it will keep you happy in the present moment.
24. Challenge your expectations.
Make yourself the master of your own fate.
Instead of automatically looking for ways to confirm your negative feelings and expectations, intentionally find the reasons to refute the validity of them.
This can help stop the flow of automatic negative thinking.
Having thoughts such as, “There is no point in going on,” or “My life is over,” reflects a point of view that suggests that it is impossible for you to succeed or change.
These contestable beliefs can be changed so you act differently. If you believe you have the power to change your thinking, you are in the right position to debunk your negative thoughts.
25. Make sure to get enough sleep.
Sleep is so essential for your overall health because this is when your body rejuvenates itself. Make sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep in order to maintain optimal mental health.
Be sure you put away your digital devices well before you go to bed, have a cool, dark room, and create a regular nighttime routine that is conducive to falling asleep (like taking a warm bath or reading).
26. Listen to music that makes you happy.
Music is a powerful way to lift your mood if you choose the right music.
Studies have shown that upbeat and energetic genres (both in lyrics and musical style) can make you feel happier within a couple of hours of listening.
Here's a great list of inspirational songs that will make you feel more hopeful and happy.
27. Get a pet.
Nothing can replace a human connection, but animals can bring you joy and companionship and prevent you from feeling isolated.
Caring for a pet will also provide you with a sense of being needed, which is important in lessening depression and hopelessness.
Dogs are especially excellent companions. Taking your dog for a walk not only makes you healthier but also it can connect you with other people.
If you are looking for the right dog, check out these dog breeds that best fit your personality and emotional needs.
28. Join a support group.
Being with other people who are also dealing with depression can reduce your feelings of isolation.
A supportive group can be encouraging and give you useful coping strategies which will make you feel more hopeful about your future.
29. Practice daily meditation.
Meditating can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce your stress, and increase your feelings of well-being.
You can support your meditation practice with yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing.
30. Get out in the sun.
Sunlight helps increase the levels of serotonin in your brain and improve your mood.
This is especially important during the winter months when you are susceptible to seasonal affective disorder.
Get outside whenever you can during the day, and get some sun exposure for about fifteen minutes.
31. Try touch therapy.
Research shows that touch therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and reflexology can help reduce feelings of depression, lower stress levels, and increase oxytocin.
32. Write in a journal.
Use a journal to write down your concerns. Sometimes, having this outlet can be soothing and reduce negative thoughts.
In addition to writing down your concerns, journal about ideas for coping and reasons to feel hopeful.
33. Practice gratitude.
Think of at least five things every day that you are grateful for. This will force you to think positively and remind you that things are not so bad.
Before you go to sleep, count your blessings and put positive thoughts into your subconscious mind before you drift off.
34. Eat healthy foods.
Avoid eating highly processed foods because they may contribute to your low mood.
Instead, aim to keep your blood sugar stable and consume plenty of nutrients. Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
Vitamin B and Omega-3 deficiencies could be linked to mood instabilities, so make sure you get enough of these nutrients into your diet.
If You Are Feeling Hopeless and Alone
35. Spend time with friends.
Seek out people you know who care about you and share some of what's going on with you.
But, even if you don't want to open up about your depressed feelings, just being around a caring friend can lift your spirits.
When you're depressed, you may be inclined to isolate yourself. Push yourself to socialize, even if it's just for an hour or so. Distract yourself from your internal suffering by engaging with others.
36. Remember that new beginnings come from endings.
Think about a time when you started something new — new job, a new relationship, or a new routine.
I'm sure when you think about it, there was an ending that happened in order for that new beginning to take place.
During that ending, you may have felt sad and alone. But eventually, those feelings went away when the new beginning became your new normal.
Use that knowledge as a life rope of hope for your future.
37. Try to accept your feelings.
The more you fight your feelings, the harder it will be to feel better. But if you can accept your feelings without resistance, it will be easier for them to resolve.
Your depressed emotions will no longer feel as scary or like something you must push away. You must go through feelings, rather than around them, in order to emerge on the other side of them.
38. Understand that change is up to you.
Your life won’t improve if you stay at home in front of the television feeling sorry for yourself or if you wait for other people to make your life better for you.
You have to be proactive in making the change that you want to see in your life. You have to start making deliberate decisions for change.
It will be hard to take action when you are depressed but begin with small, manageable steps. Each step will make you feel more empowered and hopeful.
39. You have to keep going.
You have to find the strength every day to get up and keep going. You can't wave the white flag and let this world swallow you up.
You have to embrace what each new day has in store for you, even if it is one small change. If you relentlessly chase progress, you’ll feel better and better about yourself.
40. Be the change you want to see in others.
Every day, aim to be the reason that someone else is able to believe in love.
Counteract the negativity in the world and bring empathy into the lives of other people. Be someone else’s inspiration, even if it means simply offering a genuine smile to a stranger.
41. Be good to yourself.
Ease off of self-recrimination and give yourself a break. Practice self-care and celebrate the fact that you’re alive, healthy, strong, and smart.
When people can't appreciate their gifts and talents and treat themselves well, they are more likely to disregard any evidence of personal success.
42. Forgive others.
When you hold a grudge, you can feel alone and angry. Don’t let others have this power over you. Let go of resentments.
Find a way to forgive in order to lighten the emotional load and improve your mood.
43. Remember that loneliness is just a feeling.
When you feel lonely, it might be because something triggered a memory of the feeling.
The brain is designed to notice pain and danger, which includes feelings of loneliness.
When the brain tries to make sense of this feeling, you can start to confuse facts with theories. Thoughts and feelings don't always reflect reality.
44. Focus on other people's needs.
You can spend the day focused on your loneliness and hopelessness, or you can spend it being grateful for the diverse group of people around you, silently wishing good health and happiness on them.
Doing the latter is more enjoyable and gives you perspective about your own problems. Practice a loving-kindness meditation to help you feel more empathy and less helplessness.
45. Don't compare yourself.
If you spend all of your time focusing on how much better other people have it in life, you will feel much worse about your situation.
You never really know what other people are dealing with, even those whose lives seem perfect. Your journey is your own. Focus on comparing yourself to your own standards for action and achievement.
46. Become curious about other people.
If you can do this, you will always have something to talk about with another person, and you won't feel unable to connect again.
Ask thought-provoking questions that draw others out, and you will be viewed as an interesting and compassionate person.
47. Get to the root of your loneliness.
Do you have very little contact with other people or do you just feel misunderstood? Knowing exactly why you feel helplessness can help you address it.
You may need to work with a therapist to help you better understand your stuck feelings and what to do to turn things around.
48. Join an online community.
When you join an online community related to an interest or hobby, you will be among people who are likeminded. You can develop a tribe of people that are supportive and make you feel hopeful about life.
You can also join a community of people who are also dealing with depression and helplessness. However, be sure to find a group focused on positive change rather than just reinforcing negative thoughts and feelings.
49. Tell your friends and family how you feel.
You may have a lot of friends, but the problem is that you don't feel able to open up to them, or you are not getting the attention you need.
If this is the case, it could help to be vulnerable about your feelings and share them with your friends and family. Your friends and family probably know something is going on with you, and being open with them will bring you closer together.
50. Allow yourself to cry.
Research has shown that crying is a natural reaction to stress and grief, and it has a great deal of therapeutic value.
Emotional crying can feel good, and it has been proven to relieve stress and improve your mood.
51. Believe things will get better.
It may feel like your life will remain hopeless forever, but that is the negative voice in your head sending you false information.
Fight that negative voice by remembering that things can and will get better. Try hard to respond to the situation with positive and constructive actions, and break the cycle of hopelessness by proving your negative thoughts wrong.
The old adage, “Look on the bright side,” may feel trite, but it is a worthy admonition. Positive thoughts can lead to positive change.
Hopelessness is a very defeating feeling, but you can move past it. Start with a few of these tips to start battling these negative feelings.
As you start to feel better, you will be motivated to try even more things on this list to improve your life.