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4 Ways to Maintain Hope Amidst Distressing World Events

5 ways to maintain hope through challenging world events

Table of Contents

Summary

These last few years have been emotionally, physically, and financially trying for all of us. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, climate change, war, and political divides, it can feel, at times, like the world has been turned upside down. While we need to acknowledge the state of the world and how it is affecting us, we also need to remember to maintain hope.  

What is Hope?

These last few years have been emotionally, physically, and financially trying for all of us. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, climate change, war, and political divides, it can feel, at times, like the world has been turned upside down. And while we need to acknowledge the state of the world and how it’s affecting us, we also need to remember to maintain hope.  

Hope involves believing that upsetting and troubling events and situations have the potential to improve. And it can give us the gentle push we need to keep moving forward during tough times. 

Maintaining hope also can help us to: 

  • Prevent unpleasant emotions, like fear, anxiety, and anger, from taking over. 
  • Stay motivated to set, pursue, and meet goals. 
  • Find meaning and purpose in life. 

Additionally, people who carry a high sense of hope tend to have

  • Fewer sleep problems.
  • Fewer chronic health conditions.
  • Higher social support.
  • Higher life satisfaction 

However, even with these benefits in mind, finding hope can be hard when distressing world news continues to appear before us. Thankfully, with a little bit of work, we can find ways to foster hope within ourselves and amongst each other. 

Why Do I Feel Hopeless? 

BREAKING NEWS! 

Seeing or hearing these two little words may immediately cause your blood pressure to rise and your heart to feel like it’s going to beat out of your chest. You may think to yourself, “What could possibly be happening now?!”  

While some people turn off the TV or unplug from social media when they become aware of a distressing event that occurred locally, nationally, or globally, others do a deep dive into the event to find out all the information they can. 

What is ultimately important is that you understand if your personal reaction to upsetting news is serving you well. If you feel like your usual reaction is causing your level of hopelessness to spike, it might be a good idea to re-evaluate how you are coping. This is because, when you’re feeling extremely hopeless, you might convince yourself that things won’t improve or constructively be resolved.

Thankfully, even in the worst of times, “hope and hopelessness do not preclude each other – they are partners in a dance, in a process.” In other words, though it may be difficult to imagine, you can carry hope and hopelessness with you at the same time. Sometimes, you may feel hope rising and hopelessness diminishing, and other times, the opposite may happen. But they can both reside within you simultaneously.  

Hope can come and go in waves. Sometimes, you might feel more hopeful, and other times you might feel less hopeful. And that’s completely normal. But you can learn to lean into hope, even when you can’t seem to find the light in the darkness.

4 Ways to Find Hope 

Here are some tips for you to consider, as you work to find and incorporate more hope into your life.  

#1) Acknowledge and Process Your Feelings: When you start to feel your optimism about the future diminishing, hit pause and take a mindful timeout. Then, do some deep breathing and acknowledge how you’re feeling, in the moment, without passing judgment on yourself. By processing your feelings in this way, you may gain the perspective and clarity you need to begin to release some of the difficult emotions that are weighing you down, like hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, anger, despair, and overwhelm.

#2) Take Small Steps: When you feel hopeless, try to continue with your daily routine anyway. Water your plants, text your friends, or take a shower. Hope often blossoms from even the smallest things. You may feel hopeful as your friend tells you about their great day or as you admire how tall your plant has grown. 

#3) Look for (and Join) the Helpers: Whenever the news is broadcasting a constant stream of depressing and negative world events, try to follow the insightful advice of the mother of Fred Rogers: “Look for the helpers.” In every crisis or disaster situation, there are always individuals, communities, and organizations stepping forward to support those in need. Focusing on these helpers can remind you of the innate goodness of humanity and that efforts are being made by people to bring about positive change. This also can provide you with opportunities for you to engage with, support, or even become one of these beacons of hope for those who are struggling.

#4) Find a Balance: Although having unlimited access to the internet allows us to remain connected with our loved ones 24/7, constantly being on the internet can also make viewing grim news unavoidable. Still, you can try to balance how much negativity you’re exposed to in a day. Unfollow social media pages that commonly share distressing news and replace them with pages that focus on uplifting stories, or simply follow a 1:1 rule – for every distressing news article you read, seek out an inspiring or positive story. You also may consider limiting your news consumption by putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode during a specified window of time each day, making a rule not to use your phone two hours before bed, and so on. 

Constantly being exposed to troubling news from around the world can negatively affect your overall mood and mental health, leading you to feel pessimistic about the future. It’s perfectly normal to feel this way sometimes. However, keep in mind that you have the power to nurture hope and strengthen your belief that brighter days are ahead.

Scholarly Sources 

Chansky, T. (2022, July 4). Finding hope in hard times. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/worry-wise/202207/finding-hope-in-hard-times 

Gillete, H. (2022, February 22). Feeling hopeless? How to find your guiding light again. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/blog/feeling-hopeless-how-to-stop 

Long, K. N., Kim, E. S., Chen, Y., Wilson, M. F., Worthington, E. L., & VanderWeele, T. J. (2020). The role of hope in subsequent health and well-being for older adults: An outcome-wide longitudinal approach. Global Epidemiology, 2, 100018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloepi.2020.100018 

Ong, A. D., Edwards, L. M., & Bergman, C. S. (2006). Hope as a source of resilience in later adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 41(7), 1263-1273. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2006.03.028 

Oasis Team. (2023, March 21). 5 helpful ways to grow your emotional vocabulary. Oasis Education. https://oasiseducation.com/emotional-vocabulary/

Stern, A.P. (2021, July 16). Hope: Why it matters. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hope-why-it-matters-202107162547 

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