From going on a walk with a friend to being thankful for the small things, there are many things you can try to stay hopeful during difficult times.
Hope can mean something different to everyone. Feeling hopeful can be anything from lifting your mood, to giving you something to focus on, or something to look forward to in the future. It doesn’t have to mean that you feel like everything is going to be amazing right away, but it’s about building belief in yourself that things can get better.
Many of us have faced difficult circumstances during the pandemic. As we ease out of restrictions you might feel like there is more to look forward to, but it’s OK if you're still feeling the effects of the past year. Our lives may look different now, and it’s normal that it may take some time to adjust. There have also been positive things to come out of this time. You may have found activities that you really enjoy or routines that have helped you feel grounded. Prioritising time for the things you enjoy is one way we can encourage hope in our lives.
Being totally absorbed whilst painting is so good for my mental health and well-being. When I paint the hours seem like minutes! I drink tea, listen to music and this makes me truly happy.
Nigel, caller and fundraiser
When you find it difficult to be hopeful, remember that hope is something that you can practice and build upon bit by bit. No matter how small you start, allowing ourselves to linger on positive and hopeful moments each day can help us start to feel more resilient.
Below we’ve gathered some tips to help you create space for gratitude and your version of hope. We've also included quotes from our supporters and volunteers on what they do to stay hopeful during difficult times.
Go for a walk with a friend
- Something simple like going on a walk with a friend can help you through a difficult time. It's a great opportunity to connect with nature and talk about how you're feeling whether on the phone or in person. You may find that you feel more comfortable talking things through while walking.
- If you don’t feel like there is anyone you can talk to, Samaritans are here to listen. Call free, day or night, on 116 123 or email [email protected]. For more information see our contact a Samaritan page.
When I don't feel hopeful, like many people I try to go to my 'happy place'. For me, it is running, especially the freedom and control it gives me. I can get out with no distractions and run at whatever pace I want, where I want, and I can change how far I run as I see fit. Having that control really helps. Going out for a walk helps as well. Just getting outside can make a huge difference instead of being inside where you might start to feel overwhelmed.
Pause for a moment
When you're going through a difficult time, you may feel overwhelmed. Taking the time to pause and reflect may help you to manage your thoughts and embrace positive moments.
- Try a breathing exercise. Taking a minute to slow down and focus on your breathing can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. You can practice this technique anywhere. Start by breathing in for four seconds, holding your breath for four seconds and slowly breathing out. Repeat as needed. If you would like a guide, you can follow along with this gif or breath alongside this video.
- Take time to appreciate. When we feel stressed or overwhelmed, it can be hard to slow down and recognise positive moments in our day. When something good happens, try to give yourself time to enjoy the moment. You could start by practising this with something small like a cup of your favourite tea. Try to find a quiet moment where you don’t have to rush. Take small, slow sips, reminding yourself to notice and appreciate every mouthful. Savouring positive moments can help us to stay in the present moment longer. It can also help create strong memories we can return to when we need them.
- Challenge negative beliefs. Sometimes we think negative things about ourselves without questioning these thoughts. Try to take a step back and ask yourself why do you think you believe these thoughts about yourself? Is there a different, more positive way I could look at this situation? If you would like to these down, our self-help web app includes techniques to help you record evidence against your negative beliefs.
I have learned that hope is a thing to cultivate. When life feels bleak, it needs help to grow. Like the many new house plants I have acquired over lockdown, I am learning to be the gardener of my hope. Tending it might mean different things for different people but for me, a healthy hope plant is fed with self kindness and compassion.
Gratitude, like hope, is something that we sometimes need to practice and build into our everyday lives. There are lots of different ways you can reflect on the things you're grateful for, whether big or small, to help you feel more positive.
- Keep a gratitude journal. It may be useful to write down the things you’re grateful for. This can help to give you the opportunity to be more mindful of how you're truly feeling and help you improve your optimism. By writing things down, you can also return to them if you ever need a reminder.
- Remember, there is nothing too small that you can feel thankful for. You can start with just a couple of things. If you don’t feel like writing it down, you could try starting or ending your day thinking of five things you feel grateful for. Try to include one kind thought about yourself in your list. Picture these things in your mind and focus on how you're feeling for a few moments.
When I don't feel hopeful, I find it useful to look at my self-care box which has letters, cards and photos which mean a lot to me inside. They remind me why I need to keep going. I also love looking at photos of my dog and spending time with her; Maisie always knows when I am unwell, and she sits beside me and keeps me company and has helped me through some very dark times. She always makes me feel better.
If you’re struggling to think of something you can be hopeful about, you could also try borrowing hope from a friend, a family member or something good happening in the world. It could be a favourite song that makes you feel more hopeful.
Here we’ve gathered a list of hopeful songs, as suggested by our supporters and followers.