What can I do when I feel hopeless?

If you're feeling hopeless, understand first that these feelings are completely normal. Then, take a look at where you are right now. Where did you find the strength to get out of bed this morning? If you didn't get out of bed, what might help you to? If the doorbell rang, who would you be happy to see? What do you look forward to? Can you think of something greater than the present moment?

Hope is not something that someone else can hand to you. It's uniquely yours. The universal symbol for hope is a butterfly. Think about a butterfly alighting on your arm. What does your butterfly look like? Is it a brightly-colored red and orange? Are its wings shaded in calm blues and greens? Trace its journey -- and yours.

The next step is doing. Doing gives most people a sense of satisfaction. So think about what you want to do first. What's important to you right now? What can you do about it?

If you are a religious person, you may find solace in worship, prayer and text study. Most religious traditions touch on hope and hopelessness. Many have liturgies that move beyond the physical world into other realms. Some people draw strength from the idea of life beyond death. Do some exploring, on your own or with the help of clergy or a chaplain. What does your faith tradition teach about guilt, forgiveness and mercy? How can you apply these teachings to your own situation?

Other people might gain strength from networks of family, friends or community. Maybe spiritual exercises can boost your mood. Remember that it's not a one-shot deal. It's something that you will have to work on over and over. Sometimes you might feel like you're a train wreck waiting to happen, and you have no control over when the train will derail. That's normal. Don't get angry at yourself when you feel bad. Try to live in the present, from moment to moment. And when sometimes you can't do that, that's okay too.

Life is a journey. Where we go on that journey can change from day to day. Some days you'll be fine, and you'll be able to do what you need to do. Other days, you won't be able to do anything. On those days, try to step back and think about the better days. Do whatever you need to do to get through the bad days. Don't judge yourself. As trite as it sounds, remember that life is precious. Take nothing for granted. Your life can change in unexpected ways at any time. In the time you have, try to do what you want to do to the extent that you’re able. 

Continue Learning about Emotional Health

Emotional Health

How well you handle stress, anger, relationships, work, family life-it all factors into your emotional health. Finding balance in life-as well as peace of mind-helps us cope with life's ups and downs. Take time to explore new ways ...

to find stress relief, and to release anxiety, and unhappiness. Counseling can help-as can a gratitude journal.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.