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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

How to Get Through Tough Times When You Are in Despair

How to Get Through Tough Times When You Are in Despair

Suddenly, a class 5 hurricane comes out of nowhere and literally wrecks your life; you discover your health is failing; your best friend commits suicide. These aren’t scenarios from a TV show or movie — they’re tough times that many people face all over the world, and even if you’re not dealing with something so major, you’re still in a state of utter despair.

Step back for a second. You’re still able to read this, or you have someone reading it to you. To realize the fact of your existence and what that realization means right now is part of the journey not just to recovery, but to bliss.

When you’re in a state of bliss, what does that look like? Where are you, is there anyone with you, are you relaxed, is there an incredible scent hanging in the air?

Even if the advice I’m about to give you doesn’t put you in a state of bliss, it will help you get closer to a place where bliss is possible.

Below, you’ll discover the initial steps towards recovery — those first essential actions you must take to recover from being in a state of despair. Next, you’ll get tips on maintaining psychological stability once there’s some distance between yourself and whatever is causing you to despair. Finally, you’ll grasp a philosophical standpoint that will help you help others when they are in a state of despair like yours.

Ready to get through this tough moment in your life and emerge a better person? Let’s do this.

1. You Are Not Alone — Cry out for Help

First, know this: Isolation is dangerous while you’re in despair.

If you break down and do something you can’t take back, there’s a good chance no one is helping you think differently.

Some 70 percent of people who commit suicide are not undergoing mental health treatment, and suicide rates for people between the ages of 34 and 65 have increased by 33 percent since the year 2000.[1] If those individuals who killed themselves had been able to get treatment, it could have saved their lives.

Find a counselor. If you don’t have health insurance and it’s going to cost too much, search for free counseling options in your community. Try the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727), if you’re at a loss.

Or call a family member or friend if you simply need someone to talk to. Even if you can’t completely unburden yourself, talking to someone is better than the alternative of carrying such a heavy burden.

A caveat: Do not try to substitute your friends and family for an actual therapist. It’s unhealthy for both you and them, because there’s too much emotional attachment.

In short, you’ll be burdening them too much, and they may give you biased advice. A counselor will give you objective advice that can help immensely.

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2. Search Yourself and Be Honest About Absolutely Everything

Now that you’ve identified someone to talk to, it’s time to take these important steps:

  1. Take a look at your life and ask whether there are any ongoing physical, external issues in your environment making things worse.
  2. Examine your diet and lifestyle for factors affecting your wellness (more on this soon).
  3. Examine your thoughts and look for the types of thoughts, or the very specific thoughts, that are causing you to despair.

At this point, it will help to go to the doctor and get a physical exam. Find out where you’re at biologically. Maybe you’re not getting enough vitamins or nutrients, or you’re getting too much of something. You may not be getting enough exercise. Be honest with the doctor.

Be honest with your counselor. Hold nothing back when describing your past experiences as well as daily thoughts and habits.

Be honest with your family and friends. You need to tell them how you feel no matter how hard it is. This is part of one of the most essential steps to recovery: acknowledging your feelings.

3. Get at the Feelings Leading You to a Sense of Despair

Feelings of despair, depression or anxiety don’t exist in a vacuum — negative thoughts lead to feelings of subtle unease or agitation. This mounts into a negative attitude that slowly eats away at you. When something really bad happens, a negative attitude escalates into panic, despair, or desperation.

What are the negative thoughts and feelings you’ve had in the past? What are the ones you’re harboring now?

This is not a matter of fault. These thoughts and feelings can’t help but bubble to the surface. However, when you dwell on them, they create pathways in your brain.

Eventually, once something catastrophic happens — as it will, because this is life — your mind gets overwhelmed because you’ve trained yourself to let bad feelings take control. An excess of bad feelings for a continuous period of time creates despair.

4. Now Adjust Your Perspective

You’re dealing with an ongoing situation that is incredibly hard to cope with. To despair is to react out of hopelessness.

“But this situation really is hard,” you say. Yes, it is; don’t expect too much of yourself.

To cope with the situation is to acknowledge the toughness of it. Give yourself a break for feeling bad — anyone would feel bad in your situation.

There, that’s a big part of it: you just started to think about how others might feel. You can expand even further. Take an even more distant, worldwide perspective.

Aren’t other people in the world going through tough times too? In fact, aren’t there worse situations, huge catastrophes, traumatic times when people suffer from complete loss and devastation? How would you feel in their situation? You certainly wouldn’t blame them.

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Ultimately, the human mind determines the level of suffering a person perpetuates after a traumatic event. In that sense, there’s hope because your mind is malleable. It’s like a broken bone.

Give it time to heal, take the necessary actions, don’t be hard on it.

5. Bask in Self Care Exercises

Self care is stuff you do with no stressful strings attached. These are things you do for you and your well-being. That might sound selfish, but self care is actually a basic pillar of psychological health. Dr. Maria Baratta says:[2]

“Incorporating self care every day helps to serve as an armor to protect the energy that we need in order to survive and thrive… Self care goes a long way in managing stress and living your best life.” 

Here are some self care suggestions:

  • Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule and get ample sleep every night.
  • Say no to things that are stressing you out and aren’t essential to your well-being.
  • Prioritize eating healthy foods and spend a little extra on your favorite healthy comfort food of choice.
  • Take more little breaks at work and take time to simply decompress after work.
  • Set aside time each day to do something you truly enjoy.
  • Consider meditation or other spiritual practices to access your spiritual self
  • Love yourself — think about your personal qualities and reflect on what makes you lovable.

What’s more, consider less — consider minimalism as a form of self care. According to author Kendra Yoho:[3]

“By getting rid of the things that matter little in life, we are left with the things that matter most.”

Particularly in your personal space, a glut of things you don’t need can’t create stress. Declutter your room and make it as comfy, livable, and enjoyable as possible .

You get the idea. Self care can be creative, comfortable, fun — whatever you want to make it, whatever helps you refuel.

6. Challenge Yourself to Act Instead of Reacting

Now that you’re more distant from your despair, it’s time to continue healing proactively.

When you’re reacting, you’re letting the circumstances control you; when you’re acting, you’re taking control and changing your life.

There are many actions you can take. Laz Versalles, a writer for Accesa Labs, took part in the Whole Life Challenge and it changed his life.[4]

Before he took the challenge, Laz found out his cholesterol and glucose levels were so high, he was on the road to a heart attack or diabetes. According to Laz:

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“For those who are unfamiliar, the Whole Life Challenge (WLC) is a wellness program focused on seven daily practices that give players a chance to score points in each category with an eye on creating lifelong healthy habits. The seven categories are Nutrition, Exercise, Mobility, Hydration, Sleep, Reflection and Well-Being.”

A regimen like the Whole Life Challenge goes a step beyond self care because you’re pushing yourself to take it to the next level.

Call it Self Care 2.0. Exercise should figure prominently among your new habits. Even if times are still tough, you’re moving beyond by looking outward at your next activity, not inward at your despair.

7. Find a Way to Help Someone Else

Now that you’ve helped yourself, it’s time to help someone else. This is another way to look outward. Look beyond your tough times and look at what you can do to support others in your community.

Here are some ideas for helping others:

  • Volunteer at the homeless shelter soup kitchen
  • Join a peer support group
  • Volunteer for clean-up efforts around the city
  • Volunteer at the local Boys and Girls Club
  • Volunteer with the city Parks and Recreation department
  • Notice which of your neighbors need help and offer your services
  • Volunteer at an old folks’ home
  • Volunteer at a church

The list could go on and on. Besides using your eyes and ears, use a handy internet search to identify organizations that need volunteers in your community.

8. Learn an Instrument

There are so many benefits to learning an instrument it’s hard to believe. If you already know how to play one, learn a new one. Playing music benefits the brain more than any other activity. Here are some of the surprising benefits:

  • You’ll be more mentally alert.
  • You’ll improve your connection to other people.
  • You’ll improve your memory and literacy skills.
  • You’ll experience more moments of happiness.
  • Your senses will heighten because you’ll be better at processing multiple sensory events at once. In other words, your level of mindfulness will improve.
  • You’ll increase the blood flow to your brain, and your brain will recover better from what caused you to despair in the first place.
  • You’ll lower your stress and depression levels.
  • Your brain’s executive function — its overall ability to process and retain information — will improve.

Have you ever been to a concert where you had fun, and you looked at the band or performer and there was a unique, even blissful, look on their face? That look is the visual representation of what music does for your brain.

Yes, learning an instrument is a challenge — but that’s the point.

9. Make a Friend, Take What You’ve Learned and Share It

You are on the proactive road to getting through a seriously tough period in your life. You’ve discovered it’s about looking outside of yourself and powering through with grit and determination. Eventually, the tough times end and you feel emotionally stable. Now it’s time to share.

This step is an extension that may be the hardest because you’ll actually be working hard to notice when someone is having a tough time, and instead of simply telling them everything will be okay, you’ll be making a connection with that individual.

You’ll need to build a friendship before you can offer advice. Once that friendship is built, a moment will come when they need advice.

Don’t hold back — but make sure you’ve spent plenty of time just listening to them. When they notice you’re listening, they’ll ask you what you would do, or they’ll ask for help.

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There it is! You have no more backward inclinations toward despair because you focused on someone else and you focused on what it takes to become their friend.

It feels really good just being there for somebody. Your tough times turned into a new friendship, one you could keep the rest of your life.

This is the most important thing you’ve ever done. It’s a good thing you had some tough times. Without them, you wouldn’t have had this new experience with a new person in your life.

Final Thoughts

Getting through tough times actually makes you an incredible person.

By reaching out and asking for help from someone, you gain wisdom.

By being honest with yourself, you gain the ability to be honest with others.

By becoming mindful of your deep-seated feelings, you gain more control over your words and actions.

By adjusting your perspective, you gain a mode of thinking that enables you to connect with others.

By indulging in self care, you rejuvenate yourself and gain mental armor.

By acting instead of reacting, you gain new, healthy habits.

By helping someone else, you gain valuable, eye-opening experience.

By learning an instrument, you gain a new level of intellectual and emotional competency.

By making a new friend, you gain new possibilities and an invaluable connection. Keep going in this direction, and the next time things get tough, the word despair won’t even enter the picture.

Featured photo credit: Nick Bolton via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dan Matthews, CPRP

A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

No Motivation? 7 Great Ways to Overcome Loss of Motivation

No Motivation? 7 Great Ways to Overcome Loss of Motivation

No matter who you are, you will have moments where you feel like you have no motivation to do anything at all. Even highly effective and successful people will have times when they feel a lack of motivation. However, it is the way they deal with this “down” time that keeps them moving forward and helps them to accomplish great things.

Motivation is one of the keys that will push you into taking action and keep you moving each day. If you find yourself saying “I have no motivation,” you will tend to procrastinate on the things that are supposed to get done. Eventually, you will put things off and give up on your project or task.

This is what’s happening to many people out there. They say they want to become rich by investing or running their own business on the Internet. However, whenever they need to study the company report or build their website or write an action plan, they can’t get motivated to work. This is where most people give up.

Fortunately, there are solutions to this. Here are the 7 great tips to try when you have no motivation.

1. Remember Why You Want to Do It

If you feel a lack of motivation when you want to type an article, try to think about why you want to do it in the first place. The reasons you do something are the driving force behind everything you do. It is only when your reason is strong and emotional enough that you will do whatever it takes to accomplish the task.

When you feel no motivation at all, it is because the reason behind what you’re doing is not strong enough. Think about it: why do people stop smoking? Most of the time, people stop smoking because they have a strong reason; if they continue to smoke, they may suffer serious health problems or lose their loved ones.

So why do you do what you do? Do you know why you want to achieve your goals and your targets? Make sure your reasons are strong and emotional. When you have no motivation, think about the purpose why you want to do it.

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2. Envision the Success If You Do It, and Feel the Regret If You Don’t

Visualization is a very powerful tool that is available to us, and it is free of charge. You can think and imagine whatever you want, wherever and whenever you wish to.

If you think that visualization does not work, try to imagine vividly that you walk to your kitchen, open your fridge door, see a big yellow lemon, and take it out. After that you take a knife and cut the big yellow lemon in half.

Imagine this vividly and with as much detail as possible. After you cut the lemon, take the half up and squeeze the lemon so that the juice drops into your mouth. Feel your hand’s pressure, hear the sound it makes while being squeezed, and imagine the sour lemon juice going into your mouth. Now, do you feel more saliva in your mouth or nothing?

Chances are, if you follow through and visualize it vividly, you will have more saliva in your mouth. This is because your mind cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined.

This is what makes visualization such a powerful tool. Think about it, if your dream is to drive a Mercedes Benz, imagine the vivid picture of you driving. Imagine the model you want, the color, the smell of the seats, feel the steering, and hear sound of the engine roaring. Do you think your mind will eventually make it real one day?

The point is that when you imagine and visualize things in your mind, you will feel more motivated to do it. When you dream about the car you want, you will create the motivation from within. Try to do this when you feel like procrastinating and have no motivation.

You can learn more about using visualization in this video:

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3. Create a Supportive Environment

Do you know that your surroundings and your environment can affect your mood?

You will become the people you are around. If you are always surrounded by successful people who talk about their growth and learning, you will learn and join the conversation as well. This is how you can overcome a lack of motivation and use your environment to boost your energy levels.

On the other hand, if you are surrounded by negative people who always gossip and talk about other people, you will feel negative and have no motivation to work as well.

Ensure your work space is a good and supporting environment, so that you will want to wake up each morning and go to work.

Remember, your environment is important and can affect you. Change your environment instead of letting it manage you.

4. Change Your Physiology and Stay in Action

Motion creates emotion. Whenever you feel down and have no motivation to do your work, change your physiology. Try out this exercise:

Try to feel sad by thinking about all the sad things that have happened to you, and notice your physiology. Notice your breath, your shoulders, and your facial expression. Where are your hands, and do you look up or do you look down?

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When you are in a sad state, your physiology will change to reflect it in the short term, affecting your motivation level. Conversely, if you are feeling good and energetic, your physiology will reflect that. For most people, when they feel great and motivated, their breathing will be faster, their hands gesture will be active, they talk faster, and their eyes look forward[1].

This is why it’s often easy to tell whether someone is upset or happy just by looking at their body language. When you change your physiology, you change your emotional state, as well.

5. Let Others Motivate You

Reading a book, listening to music, or watching something inspiring can help when you have no motivation. What you can do is spend a minimum of 30 minutes each day reading an inspiring book before you start your day. This way, you will make sure you start in the right state of mind and are able to go through the day, even if you face challenges

Videos and audio can be very helpful in helping you find motivation, too. For example, when you are down and feeling no motivation, spend time watching something inspiring on YouTube or listen to a motivational speech. You will be pumped up in no time and ready to go.

6. Dream Big, Start Small, and Act Now

This is a very powerful principle if you are struggling with motivation and feel overwhelmed. When you dream, you have to dream big so that your dream can inspire you. However, when you start, you have to start small because you want to make it into a habit so that you will automatically take action consistently every day.

When your motivation is gone, start small. You want to build up the momentum from there. Once you start to take action, the motivation will come, and you will be able to continue to do more.

Take baby steps, and gradually increase from there on. For example, if you want to exercise and work out five days a week, try to schedule it and start small. Even if it is just five minutes a day, commit to it.

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The key is to build the momentum and make it easy for you to start. Once you get the engine started, gradually increase your motivation.

For more tips on taking action, check out Lifehack’s Free Guide: The Dreamers’ Guide for Taking Action and Making Goals Happen.

7. Take Breaks When Needed

Sometimes you just want to take a break when you have no motivation. Remember, success is not a destination; it is a journey that you need to go through for a long period of time. Many people mistake success as doing one great thing and think that success will come over overnight.

However, almost all the successful people who have accomplished amazing results are able to do so because they persist long enough. They take action consistently and never give up. Real success takes years to build.

Make sure you get enough rest and take a break when you need to. Understand your own capabilities and how much you can do. If you have done your work, you can reward yourself and take a break. You will notice that after resting, you will feel more energetic, motivated, and ready to take on the world again.

The Bottom Line

If you find yourself asking, “Why do I have no motivation?” it may be time to take a good look at how you’ve aligned your priorities and where you can make changes each day. Overcoming a lack of motivation means finding what matters on a daily basis and taking small steps toward it when the energy you’re given.

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Featured photo credit: Agnieszka Boeske via unsplash.com

Reference

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