2020 began with hope and promise, but it quickly turned into something more akin to the worst year ever. Wedding, vacations, date nights, school days, work, and everything else in between has been thrown into utter chaos with a pandemic no one saw coming.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the death toll has left millions of people grieving loved ones who have succumb to the virus. If any time was a time of great fear and uncertainty, it has been 2020 thus far.
It’s more than anxiety about us or loved ones falling ill. While it’s natural to fear for ourselves, our children, and the vulnerable members of society, there are additional concerns that come with a pandemic like this.
The financial repercussions, a potential recession, and missing out on so much of life. Life is short enough as it is, no one wants to be behind closed doors missing out on friends and family. However, the nature of this pandemic is that it is right to shield ourselves from those situations for the greater good.
The big question is what role can hope play in these times of fear and uncertainty? Even when you get through this pandemic, there will be something else down the line that puts your mental health on the line. That’s the reality of life, it throws banana peels in your path and you have to swerve and correct or slip and fall.
Hope is constant, no matter how bad things get. Hope keeps you sane.
How Hope Can Protect Your Mental Health
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Let’s discuss the pandemic specifically and how hope can help you protect your mental health.
Don’t worry, each of these points ties into the bigger picture of coping with fear and uncertainty. A pandemic is just a particularly apt example of times of great fear and uncertainty.
The reality is that the pandemic will and would never go away if everyone were not prepared to play their part. Handwashing, hand sanitizer, mask-wearing, social isolation, etc. all had their role to play in dealing with it. The countries who recovered the quickest were the countries that banded together to beat the coronavirus into submission.
They played their part in the wider team and came back stronger than ever. That is true of any situation rooted in fear or uncertainty. When you are faced with uncertainty, reach out to your community for support.
That’s why we work so hard to maintain social connections and build a strong network of people around us. Humans are social creatures and when acting as a community are better off.
In any situation, it’s important that you educate yourself and share relevant information with the people in your life. However, the key is to seek out reputable information. Don’t seek out information or sources that will back up your hunch on a specific talking point – turn to the professionals. Rarely is the world so in agreement with what’s going on, in this case, the prevailing message has been the advice we mentioned above is the right way forward. Don’t resist it because you heard somewhere it wasn’t true.
That can be said of any situation. When we feel fearful or uncertain about what’s going on, we often seek out sources that make us feel better by agreeing with us. As tempting as that is, it’s something you should resist. You have to put on your critical thinking cap and question the information you access.
If you are a religious person, you can pray daily and read your holy text. If you are a spiritual person, you can commune with nature, set daily intentions, read spiritual texts, or journal.
There are all different ways to root yourself in your brand of spirituality. If you practice in the best of times, you will find it easier to maintain it at the worst of times. This is a valuable tool to help you manage stress and improve mental health.
Self-compassion is a major part of this and showing yourself kindness and understanding counts. While some people may view it as selfish, the reality of the matter is that we often treat ourselves more harshly than we do others.
You don’t deserve to be your own doormat, so let go of the perfectionism that holds you and start practicing self-compassion. Give yourself permission to slow down and breathe. Give yourself permission to do very little, but perhaps explore the various ways to practice self-compassion.
Hope stems from positivity and self-compassion and support is positivity.
The pandemic has touched everyone all over the world so, you’re not alone in a situation like this. While we are unlikely to experience something on this level again in our lifetimes, the trauma and hardship that touches our lives are often shared by the people around us.
In any situation, it’s important to increase emotional intimacy and stay connected with the people in your life. It could be as simple as texting regularly, logging in for video chats, or even playing games together.
It’s especially important that we look after our older community, they’re far more vulnerable and more likely to live alone. Reach out with a phone call or record videos or audio to send them to keep them upbeat during times of difficulty. Of course, you could also revisit the old practice of writing letters.
Hope is always found in human connections.
Understanding & Curiosity
In the face of a pandemic, a social life is just about impossible. Though, that has certainly eased now it still offers you a unique opportunity. What do you know about your history, culture, or art? Are you familiar with the story behind your ethnic group or the history of your family?
Why not take this opportunity to get to know more about where your ancestors came from and what type of cultural background you came from. It provides you with a deeper understanding of your own history, but it may also provide you with insight into a variety of other cultures as well.
Any experience of uncertainty or fear can provide you with an opportunity if you’re prepared to reach out and grab it. There is always room for personal growth.
Hope is found whenever we find the gifts of adversity.
Your Mental Health
During a crisis, our mental health is often the first thing to go out the window. Right now, depression and anxiety are on the rise and that will only be set to grow as we try to come to grips with what’s going on in the world around us.
In addition to the dangers of the coronavirus, there is the danger of isolation, job losses, and relationship strife. We are going through a unique, life-changing situation and people with anxiety and depression will be feeling that even more acutely right now.
According to WHO, depression is the world’s leading cause of disability and affects almost 300 million people worldwide (ref.). As far as the United States of America goes, it’s the number one mental health issue and affects almost one in five adults. Those numbers are only set to increase.
It’s important to focus on the fact that it’s treatable and people should feel comfortable seeking treatment instead of attempting to self-treat their illness. There are some ways you can self-help, however, by addressing anxiety and fear.
- When we feel helpless, our anxieties increase.
- When we feel hopeless, our insecurities gain ground. It doesn’t matter how hard you try sometimes; they still seem to get you when you least expect it. That’s because we often stop paying attention to what’s going on within us and allow stress to creep in and create havoc.
- Then you reach a point where you realize that all these things you’ve convinced yourself of are lies or simply no longer valid.
Managing Anxiety And Depression
This is why we want to have a serious conversation about managing anxiety and depression in times of fear and uncertainty.
The world is evolving rapidly and due to all of that uncertainty we are experiencing a spike in fear, anxiety, and worry. These aren’t just words we say to scare people, there are very real physical side effects that accompany these negative emotions.
If you are experiencing fear and uncertainty, then you may have:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Problems staying asleep
- Trouble concentrating
- Panic attacks
- Crying uncontrollably
- Habit of catastrophizing
It sounds scary because it is, most people underestimate just how great the toll anxiety and uncertainty can have on a person, physically and emotionally.
Invest In Your Mind, Body And Spirit
You can protect your mental health by investing in your body, mind, and spirit.
- In terms of supporting your physical health, you can eat well, exercise daily, and avoid alcohol. Sleep is also an important aspect of maintaining physical health. You can improve your sleep routine by avoiding food, alcohol, and screens two hours before bed.
- Your bedroom should be quiet, dark, and cool to create the perfect sleep environment. If your bed and pillow aren’t great, consider investing in an upgrade. You’d be surprised at the difference it can make.
- When it comes to your mind, do your best to surround yourself with people who are positive and supportive. Practice positive affirmations and self-talk. Later, we’ll provide you with some positive affirmations and quotes of hope to get you started. If you feel as though additional support is necessary, then consider reaching out to a therapist.
- It’s time to feed your spirit and you can do this through purposeful actions and thoughts. What are your core values? Allow them to guide you daily, offer compassion to yourself and to others, especially those in need. Focus on those things that make you happy, stimulate joyful feelings and avoid those that trigger negativity. For example, watching the news too much can be a trigger, so avoid that and instead garden.
- One thing that is common for people facing anxiety, depression, and uncertainty is substance abuse. It’s really easy to pour an extra glass of wine, to pop a pill you don’t need, or to seek out other self-sabotaging habits. Instead, choose not to drink or take drugs during this vulnerable time and instead engage in hopeful activities.
- Manage stimulation by turning the television off and putting your gadgets aside for extended periods of time. In your device-free moments, seek positivity. You can do this through positive conversations with friends, positive self-talk, or simply reading a book or listening to music that uplifts you. Additionally, looking after your body physically is an excellent way to support your emotional side. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, and avoid things that cause you stress.
What To Do With All The Uncertainty
The greatest fear and anxiety that we have to navigate through times of uncertainty are the irrational and persistent thoughts that come with the not knowing. unfortunately, that feeling breeds more negative emotions like sadness, anger, and even paralyzing fear, as well as disrupting sleep.
Uncertainty has become par for the course, the world has shifted and society is changing. All the things we have taken for granted are suddenly up in the air. How do you hold onto those things and what do you focus on in uncertainty?
There are strategies that can help you navigate this type of situation.
You have to acknowledge the challenge you are facing and address it. The best way to restore strength and calm is by taking small steps at a time. Positive self-talk, positive affirmations, and being proactive about maintaining fitness and making healthy meals are great starting points.
It’s always wise to spend time outdoors. Fresh air and sun are good for you mind, body and spirit.
Limit news watching. Go for a walk, read a book, watch a relaxing movie, or finish a project.
Find a supportive group that inspires positivity, whether it’s your friends, family, or even a support group online. If you build a supportive group, they can help you effect positive change within yourself and you can likely repay the favor for them at their low points.
If your uncertainty is health-related, like the pandemic, then listen to the advice of experts, follow guidelines, and listen to the professionals. There are always proactive measures you can take to make a positive difference in your mental health, no matter what is going on around you.
Practice empathy, commitment, compassion, and joy at the best of times so that when the worst of times roll around you are prepared to practice more of the same. You never know who you will inspire to be strong and steady when the time comes.
When uncertainty comes calling, the biggest issue many of us face is focusing on priorities. Like, what do you even focus on when everything is upside down? No matter what is going on, there will always be certain priorities you can hold onto. That is to eat well to keep your physical body ticking over healthily, ensuring you get good rest, taking proactive steps to protect your mental health, and avoiding negativity in order to reinforce hope and positivity.
It’s always important to remember that the hard times will pass. They will be challenging, but there are positive ways you can protect yourself while also supporting the people around you.
Finding Hope – It’s All Around You When You Take The Time To Look
Find Hope in hopeful things, people, and places.
Optimism builds hope. Create a list of all the things that are optimistic right now. Search within for your optimism and make a list. Focus on that list daily.
On the other side of the storm is a beautiful rainbow
Make a long detailed gratitude list. Gratitude builds hope. Gratitude is optimism. Gratitude is hope.
My optimism heals my anxiety and hope keeps me sane
Hope is in the more than 125 labs around the world working to create a vaccine.
Hope is found in repeating positive affirmations daily.
Hope is my eternal companion. In times of fear, turmoil,
crisis, darkness, and pain it never lets me down.
Decide to be hopeful, period. Once you decide something, you are most likely to manifest it.
There is a little button in my mind called hope. When I press it, it’s
like the undo button on a computer keyboard wiping out all negativity,
anxiety, despair, bleakness, and pessimism from my mind.
Look Around You – hope is everywhere. Hope lies in all the people helping others who have no food or money. Hope is going to get groceries for your elderly neighbor. Hope is the children who play outside with their balls. Hope is in the unity of the United States of America after the 911 attacks.
“Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others might live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capitol; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” – Secretary of State John Kerry
Remember, even at the worst of times, much worse than now, people have found hope.
“That’s the difficulty in these times: ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered. It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank, German-born diarist and World War II Holocaust victim who died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 16
Find hope from your past experiences. Think back to all the hardships you have endured, and how everything turned out ok.
Make a list of all that you hope for right now. Read it daily. Keep it in the forefront of your mind. Believe in it.
Humanity is synonymous with endurance. Humanity is synonymous
with resilience. Humanity is synonymous with hope.
Key Facts Of Hope Amid The Pandemic
The sun is not cancelled or closed
Relationships are not cancelled or closed
Hope is never cancelled or closed, it is open and welcomes everyone, and no mask is required
Love is not closed or cancelled
Human kindness is not cancelled
Music is not cancelled
Reading under the sun is not cancelled
Kindness is not cancelled
Human connections have not been cancelled
In love I find hope. In love I find healing. Love will never be closed, shut down or cancelled
I find hope in self-care, good news, and joyful moments
H.O.P.E. stands for Hang On Plights End
Positive Affirmations To Inspire Hope
Gandhi, one said something powerful, something that highlights the power of positive affirmations without specifically shouting them out. “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
It’s quite powerful if you think about the kernel of truth within such a simple paragraph. I want you to keep this in mind as you read the positive affirmations we have put together below.
You may find some more pertinent to your life than others, I encourage you to embrace as many as you need as you traverse through your uncertain journey.
|The universe will provide for every need, want, and desire I have.|
|I am joy, I am peace, I am love, I am hope.|
|I am compassion, I am empathy, I am generosity, I am kindness.|
|I am faith, I am serenity, I am humility, I am benevolent.|
|I always expect the best to happen.|
|I surrender my whole self to the universe.|
|I radiate hope.|
|I am chosen.|
|I am moving in the right direction.|
|I am always moving forward.|
|I am surrounded by loving, positive, supportive people.|
|I will always find a way.|
|There will always be another way.|
|I recognize what I have and I am grateful for it.|
|I am always ready to face new experiences.|
|I believe that my wishes will come true.|
|I will always count hope as my closest companion.|
|I have a positive relationship with my family.|
|I have a positive relationship with my friends.|
|I have a positive relationship with my spouse/partner.|
|I have a positive relationship with my child/ren.|
|My family is my hope.|
|My family is supportive.|
|I find a new beginning at the lit end of every tunnel.|
|I expect beautiful things to come.|
|I choose hope.|
|Just hold on, the pain will end.|
|I believe good things will come to me.|
|I am excited about my future.|
|Hope is everywhere around me, I just need to open my eyes and see it.|
|I am doing better.|
|I don’t concern myself with the opinions of others.|
|I won’t just survive, I’m going to thrive.|
Difficult times make me stronger. Adversity builds my resilience. It is for these gifts that I am eternally grateful.
|My life is blessed.|
|In the face of fear, I will act regardless.|
|I am optimistic.|
|I am good.|
|I know what to do.|
|I know I am capable of achieving anything.|
|Nothing can stand in my way.|
|There are amazing things coming my way.|
|I am happy and excited about my future.|
|I am filled with courage, strength, and hope.|
|I will always choose the positivity of any situation.|
|I am constantly moving forward in the right direction.|
|I choose to let go of the past and focus on my life ahead.|
|I walk and increase in abundance.|
|My heart is pointed to possibilities.|
|I choose positivity. I am optimism.|
|I am prepared to take responsibility.|
|I will choose to think constructive thoughts.|
|Today, I believe all will be well again.|
|I am powered and driven from the inside out.|
|I have so much to be grateful for.|
|I am prepared to roll with the punches and embrace change.|
|I value the people in my life.|
|I value myself and what I have to offer.|
|I will achieve whatever I set out to achieve.|
|I am equipped and powerful enough to achieve my goals.|
|I am unlimited.|
|I can make everything work perfectly.|
|I am as reliable as I am competent.|
|There is more treasure to discover in this life.|
|I aim for and achieve success.|
|I am never alone.|
|I aim for the finish line.|
|I conquer what I see.|
|The best way to get through pain is to walk through it.|
|I reach for the best.|
|I will create a new reality for myself.|
|I remain unvanquished.|
|I grow and learn in every phase of life.|
|I am stronger than imagination.|
|I can find a solution to any problem.|
|I am in control of my thoughts.|
|I am in control of my emotions.|
|I am strong enough to walk through fire.|
Quotes of Hope
“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” – American jazz legend, Duke Ellington
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” Anne Frank, German-born diarist, and World War II Holocaust victim who died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 16
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’ – Dr. Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, and a Holocaust survivor, of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering and Türkheim.
“911 is a story of horrible evil showcasing the worst of humanity, it is also a story of incredible bravery, unity and sacrifice from ordinary people. That my friends is hope.” – Anonymous
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” – American poet, Emily Dickinson
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” – Frederick Douglass, American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman who escaped from slavery in Maryland and became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Dr. Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, and a Holocaust survivor, of Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Kaufering and Türkheim.
“Once you choose hope anything is possible.” – Superman actor, Christopher Reeve
“Strange as it may seem I still hope for the best, even though the best, like an interesting piece of mail, so rarely arrives, and even when it does it can be lost so easily.” – American novelist Daniel Handler under his pen-name Lemony Snicket
“Hope never abandons you, you abandon it.” – American Psychologist, George Weinberg
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising every time we fall.” – Chinese philosopher, Confucius
“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest.” – Dalai Lama
“Where this is no hope, it is incumbent on us to invent it.” – French philosopher, Albert Camus
“Dum, Spiro Spero” – Latin for ‘while I breathe, I hope’.
“Don’t be afraid of your fears, they are not there to scare you. They are there to let you know that something is worth it.” – American author and poet, C. Joy Bell C.
“The easiest thing to do is to give up. But true strength is the ability to hold it together and get back up.” – Unknown
“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – American author and lecturer, Barbara De Angelis
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Former First Lady of the United States, author, and attorney, Michelle Obama
“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” – American virologist, researcher, and inventor of the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“You will be secure because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” – Job 11:18, 19
“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” – The 32nd American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt who served during World War II
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” – Theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – American minister and civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Hope fills the holes of my frustration in my heart.” American minister and Congressman, Emanuel Cleaver II
“He who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything.” – British historian and philosopher, Thomas Carlyle
“Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.” – American writer and orator, Robert Green Ingersoll
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Bishop Desmond Tutu
“A whole stack of memories never equal one little hope.” – American Cartoonist Peanuts creator, Charles M. Schulz
‘My hope is still to leave the world a little better than I found it.” – American puppeteer, animator, actor, and writer, Jim Henson
In times of great fear and uncertainty, the best way to protect your mental health is to reach out and find the healing power of hope. I hope this has provided you with a variety of tools to do just that.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to take a proactive approach to protect your mental health in the best of times so that when the worst of times do come, you are in a strong position to protect yourself from its negative effects.
Stay hopeful and take care!
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