Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

“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.

Advertising

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.

15 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Worrying About Everything How to Be More Positive: 15 Habits to Take Up How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 17 Types of Meditation (Techniques and Basics) to Practice Mindfulness How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Trending in Staying Motivated

1 30 Refreshing Routines to Boost Your Morning Motivation 2 5 Ways to Turn Around a Bad Day at Work 3 How to Stay Motivated Even Though You Can’t See Yourself Moving Forward 4 Feeling Like a Failure? 10 Simple Things to Help You Rise Again 5 How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 18, 2021

30 Refreshing Routines to Boost Your Morning Motivation

30 Refreshing Routines to Boost Your Morning Motivation

Your morning motivation determines whether you can win the day. In 2016, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University studied call center staff working for an insurance company[1].

They specifically looked at the mood of the call center staff throughout their working day. The three-week study discovered something interesting. Namely, staff who started the day in a bad mood usually ended the day in a bad mood. This was despite them receiving calls from positive customers throughout the day.

Staff who started their day calm or happy finished their working day in the same upbeat emotional state. Furthermore, the study found that staff with low moods had low productivity. Staff with elevated moods demonstrated high productivity.

As you can see from the above revelations, it’s vital that you start your day well with a great morning routine.

If you’re prone to starting off your day in a gloomy and stressed state, then you’ll be sure to benefit from the suggestions below.

1. Wake up on Time

Waking up on time (or waking up early) is critical to starting your day positively and keeping your sleep cycle in check. It will give you space and time to complete your morning routines, and you won’t need to worry about rushing around your home[2].

Keep your sleep cycle in check for morning motivation.

    If you often hit the snooze button, set your alarm and put your phone at least a few feet away from your bed so you have to get up to turn off the alarm in the morning.

    2. Open Your Curtains

    One of the first things you should do upon rising is to open your bedroom curtains to boost your early morning motivation.

    The human body clock depends highly on the sun and our exposure to it. When we wake up to sunlight, we will naturally feel more energized, and our body clocks will be set for the day ahead[3].

    3. Make Your Bed

    Remember your student days? Making your bed was probably the last thing you thought about when you were stumbling out of it in the morning.

    This habit may be okay for students, but if you want to accelerate your motivation and productivity, you should definitely make your bed.

    It takes less than a minute, and you’ll be rewarded by a tidy room and a feeling of self-satisfaction.

    4. Enjoy a Refreshing Shower

    I’m always amazed when people tell me that they didn’t have time to shower in the morning.

    A shower only takes 10 minutes or so, and it’s a great way to clean your body, and the perfect way to wake up motivated.

    5. Drink a Freshly-Blended Smoothie

    Every morning, I enjoy a freshly-blended, fruit-based smoothie. This consists of organic milk and a small portion of fruit, such as bananas, mangoes, or strawberries.

    It’s a superb way to kick-start your day with morning motivation. Not only does it taste great, but it’s also full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

    6. Take a 10-Minute Walk in the Morning Sunshine

    If you have a dog, then this will be an easy task for you.

    Advertising

    However, even if you don’t own a dog, why not try walking for 10 minutes outside every morning?

    If you’re lucky enough to live close to a park, then you could walk around the park before going to work. Fresh air and exercise are an invigorating combination that will set the tone for your whole day.

    7. Check Your To-Do List

    Organized people tend to have to-do lists. It helps them keep track of what needs doing at home, work, and beyond.

    To-do lists can be paper-based, or you can use one of the many free apps that are available. The morning time is perfect for checking your to-do list and prioritizing items for the day.

    You may also find that you can tick off some items that you completed the previous day.

    8. Listen to Some Upbeat Music

    Music is a powerful mood changer. If you’re not a typical morning person, you can boost your morning motivation by listening to upbeat music.

    Simply try to choose music that makes you feel happy and lively. You could listen to this music while you shower, when you’re in your kitchen, or perhaps when you’re commuting to work.

    Here’re also some for your inspirations: 30 Inspirational Songs that Keep You Motivated for Life

    9. Complete a Mini Workout

    If you have a home gym, then spend 30 minutes each morning working out. This will rapidly wake you up and increase your mental well-being in the long term.

    If you don’t have a home gym, you can still do a mini workout. For example, try doing sets of push-ups and sit-ups on a yoga mat.

    10. Review Your Goals

    Early morning can be an excellent time for contemplation.

    While you may want to think about trivial things, successful people often use this time to review their personal goals. You can do the same.

    For instance, if one of your goals is to start your own business, then use the morning time to come up with ideas to help move you towards this goal.

    11. Pack Some Healthy Snacks to Take to Work

    You may have started the day with a healthy breakfast, but have you noticed how easy it is for our diets to go downhill from there!

    As soon as we arrive at college or work, we begin looking for the coffee. Not long after that, we get hungry and start seeking out cakes, cookies, and chocolate.

    Luckily, with a bit of preparation, you can avoid this situation. The trick is to pack some healthy snacks, such as apples, bananas, or nuts. These healthy treats will happily keep you going until lunchtime.

    12. Declutter Part of Your Home

    Unless your home is currently spotless and has nothing out of place, then you could spend a few minutes each morning decluttering an area of your home.

    Take your hallway, for example. This may have shoes and bags that could be tidied away in just a few minutes. With this bit of productivity, your morning motivation will skyrocket.

    Advertising

    13. Meditate for 5 Minutes

    Many high achievers say that they mediate each morning. This gives them balance and poise before beginning their working day[4].

    Have you thought about trying meditation? Although there are different forms of meditation, the simplest method is to just close your eyes, control your breathing, and let your thoughts settle.

    Like most things in life, the more you practice meditation, the easier it will become for you.

    14. Stretch Your Body

    You may have woken up with a stiff neck, or perhaps pain in your back.

    Stretching for just a few minutes offers quick pain relief, improved posture and enhanced energy levels[5]

    Morning stretches for morning motivation

      You can also try these 17 Morning Stretches That Will Jumpstart Your Body and Mind.

      15. Read a Motivational Quote

      If you want to boost your productivity, then make a habit of reading a motivational quote each morning.

      To get you in the mood for adopting this behavior, I’ve picked out one of my favorite quotes for you:

      “Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” -Og Mandino

      And here’re more: 50+ Best Motivational Quotes To Prepare You For Any Challenges In Life

      16. Drink a Glass of Water

      Hydration is essential, especially after hours of sleeping. Water can reduce calorie intake throughout the day, increase mental performance, and transport all the nutrients your body needs[6].

      Even if you’re a caffeine addict, try drinking a glass of water before you start on the hard stuff.

      17. Create Something

      Let’s say that you are a budding singer-songwriter. You’re not famous yet, but you want to be!

      Before heading off to do your current job, you could spend 20 minutes or so writing lyrics for a new song. Do this everyday for a week, and you’ll probably have enough lyrics for a whole album.

      Other ideas for creating something include putting together a bouquet of flowers, working on your novel, or adding the finishing touches to your latest artwork. You’ll be surprised by how much this helps your early morning motivation.

      18. Write Down Things You’re Grateful for

      It’s all too easy to take things for granted. We need to constantly remind ourselves of things in our life that we’re grateful for.

      A beneficial and rewarding morning practice is to write a list of things that you’re currently grateful for. These could be things such as your partner, your job, and your health.

      Advertising

      Some people like to write a list each morning that includes everything they were grateful for from the previous day. Over time, you can develop an attitude of gratitude. Moreover, gratitude is an indicator of overall well-being in life[7].

      19. Play With Your Pets

      If you’re fortunate enough to have a pet, then the morning is the perfect time to have some fun with them.

      For instance, if you have a dog, they’re sure to like playing with a ball or Frisbee first thing in the morning. They’ll have fun, and you will, too.

      20. Listen to an Inspiring Podcast

      Podcasts are a great way to listen to inspiring speakers for some morning motivation.

      As they’re audio only, you can listen to them while making your breakfast, or even while you’re driving your car.

      Just imagine hearing expert tips on business, success, and well-being every morning. Before long, this precious wisdom is bound to sink into your consciousness.

      Here’re some podcasts recommended for you:

      21. Plan Your Day

      Self-help guru Alan Lakein famously said:

      “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

      Wise words indeed.

      To be successful in life, you must learn how to make plans and set goals. You can use a few minutes each morning to plan the day ahead. It’s a simple technique that offers a surprising boost to your daily productivity.

      22. Learn Something New

      Each morning is the start of a new day. Why not tap into this fresh energy by learning something new every morning?

      This could be something like a few words of a new language, a new guitar chord, or some facts related to your favorite basketball team.

      23. Enjoy the Quiet

      If you can get up in the morning before the majority of other people, you’ll be rewarded with peace and quiet.

      You can make use of this special time by perhaps reading a book or sitting in your garden. Let the quiet sink in before you get to the chaos of the day.

      24. Think of a Way to Help Someone Later in the Day

      Today’s society seems riddled with a me, me, me mentality.

      It’s important not to get caught in this self-centered trend. One way to do this is to take a few minutes each morning to think of ways that you can help other people later in the day.

      To give you an example, you may have a colleague who has a sweet tooth. You could decide to take some chocolates to work that you could share with this individual.

      Advertising

      25. Go for a Swim

      If you like to swim, and there is a swimming pool nearby, then this is a wonderful way to start your day with some morning motivation.

      Swimming pools are usually quiet in the morning, so you’re likely to have loads of space for serious swimming, or simply having fun!

      26. Meet Some Friends for Breakfast

      Until I was in my 20s, I’d never thought about going out for breakfast with friends. However, I was fortunate to be introduced to this idea by a couple of American friends who were staying with me in London.

      I distinctively remember them saying, “Where shall we go for breakfast?” I was taken aback because I had always just had breakfast at home.

      I’m glad they persuaded me, though, as I loved having breakfast with them in a local café. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I now regularly meet friends for breakfast. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a go!

      27. Check Yourself in the Mirror

      I’ve heard people say that they don’t like to look in the mirror in the morning because they’re afraid of what they might see.

      I’m guessing that they probably look miserable and tired first thing in the morning, and want to avoid been reminded of this. It’s understandable, but I think mirrors are a great tool to use in the morning.

      Instead of being afraid of them, use them to check your appearance. You can quickly check your hair and makeup (for example).

      But more importantly, you can ensure that you’re looking alert, confident, and purposeful.

      28. Follow Steve Jobs’ Advice

      In a speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs revealed that he started each day by asking the following question:

      “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

      He went on to say that, if the answer to the question was “no” for several days, then this told him that he needed to make changes in his life.

      29. Leave Plenty of Time for Your Commute

      Rushing to work is the cause of so much stress and anxiety. One of the problems is that most people seem to leave a set amount of time for their commute but don’t allow for any delays. When they encounter one, their morning motivation is destroyed.

      The resolution is simple: always allow more time than you need.

      30. Kiss Your Loved Ones Before You Leave the House

      Don’t be in so much of a hurry in the morning that you forget the most valuable people in your life.

      Whether it’s your partner or your children, be sure to hug and kiss them before heading out the door. Relationships are so important, so be certain to nurture yours.

      The Bottom Line

      Hopefully, the above list will give you plenty of food for thought.

      I recommend that you pick out a handful of the above suggestions, and make them a part of your daily routine.

      By building these new habits, you’ll find that your days start happier and stronger. You’ll also discover that you’re more motivated and productive than ever before.

      More Ways to Find Morning Motivation

      Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next