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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

How to Get Through Tough Times When You Are in Despair

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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.

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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.

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress 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

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Last Updated on November 22, 2021

20 All-Time Best Motivational Books to Inspire You

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20 All-Time Best Motivational Books to Inspire You

Sometimes going through life can be a little bit of a roller coaster. There are many ups and just as many downs as we journey through the high and low points.

Life becomes a little simpler when you accept that as we pursue our goals, there will inevitably be challenges and barriers along the way. This is why a few extra sources of inspiration, such as motivational books, never hurt anyone.

The following motivational books were selected because they can fulfill this need for you. These books will challenge you to question your current perspectives and grow in unexpected ways.

The following motivational books will provide you with a source of inspiration great enough to light your internal fire!

1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Fankl

    Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s discusses in-depth his experience with living in Nazi death camps and describes the lessons it taught him about spiritual survival. Frankl puts forth a convincing argument that avoiding suffering isn’t realistic. However, through choosing how we cope with that suffering and the meaning we ascribe to it, we retain the ability to move forward with renewed purpose.

    This certainly is a book for the generations that anyone can gain value from. Man’s Search for Meaning has been listed as one of the most influential books in America and has currently sold over 10 million copies in twenty-four languages.

    If you’re looking for motivational books that can help you learn about the value of ascribing meaning to suffering, this is one for you!

    Get the book here!

    2. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

      Of all the motivational books out there, this is a must-read for those who are into life design.

      Through this book, Jen provides her readers with simple exercises to help people identify their self-limiting beliefs, attitudes, and habits. She provides some great advice and does so in a humorous way to truly captivate her audience and motivate them to begin achieving the success they want from their lives.

      Jen’s goal is to help her readers truly understand why they have developed certain thought and behavior patterns. She helps us to focus on the things that we can change and accept the things which we cannot.

      Overall, the book offers a new comical approach towards inspiring and motivating its audiences, and can be enjoyed by anyone who decides to pick it up.

      Get the book here!

      3. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by William H. McRaven

        If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.

        Make Your Bed is a book which outlines the lessons contained in a speech given by Admiral William H. McRaven. In this speech, he shared the 10 principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome the various challenges he faced throughout his career.

        This speech went viral, gaining over 10 million views as it clearly explained how anyone can use these lessons to better both themselves and the world around them. This book recounts tales from his service and offers simple and practical wisdom and words of advice and encouragement which will inspire readers to achieve more in their daily lives!

        Get the book here!

        4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

          The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a wonderful story about an inspiring journey towards self-discovery. Mysticism and wisdom combine in this classic novel that has sold millions of copies worldwide.

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          This story outlines the journey of a young shepherd boy who desires to travel the world in search of treasure but ends up discovering a vastly different type of riches than he initially imagined.

          Overall, this book encourages each of us to listen to our hearts, recognize our unique opportunities in life, and pursue our passions.

          Get the book here!

          5. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

            Charles Duhigg’s Smarter, Faster, Better outlines 8 productivity concepts that help certain companies and individuals accomplish so much more than others. This book outlines the differences between the perspectives of some of the worlds top performers and those who are less successful.

            These productivity concepts explain how everyday people can improve their everyday lives. Overall, this book can help anyone learn how to succeed and ensure that their average day is productive and not just busy.

            Get the book here!

            6. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

              Don Miguel Ruiz uses his book The Four Agreements to reveal the limiting beliefs that we commonly hold which rob us of joy and cause us to endure needless suffering. This book provides an insightful code of conduct which imparts its wisdom in an accessible manner to its readers.

              The Four Agreements encourages self-reflection and encourages us to do better within our everyday lives. This is why the book has sold over 6 million copies in the U.S. alone and has been a New York Times bestseller for over 8 years.

              Get the book here!

              7. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

                In this book, psychologist Angela Duckworth, takes her readers on a journey to argue that the secret to being a success relies largely on an individual’s grit, a unique blend of passion and persistence.

                The insights offered by Duckworth in this book encourage us to never underestimate the power of consistent, long-term action towards a goal, especially when you’re passionate about it.

                Duckworth addresses the thoughts which commonly intrude into our heads when we fail and gives us methods to combat them.

                If the idea that success is about your perseverance and your ability to persist even when times get tough resonates with you, this is one of the motivational books for you.

                Get the book here!

                8. Mindset: the New Psychology for Success by Carol S. Dweck

                  Psychologist Carol Dweck outlines years of research in her book Mindset. She argues that the mindset we adopt is a huge predictor of our success and achievement. She believes that nearly every area of human endeavor can be influenced by the mindset we adopt and how we select to approach our goals.

                  She discusses the downsides of adopting a fixed mindset as well as the benefits commonly associated with adopting a growth-oriented mindset. Whereas one mindset believes our abilities are fixed, the other believes our skills and abilities can be developed assuming we are willing to put in the effort.

                  This is a highly motivating paradigm shift which can encourage amazing accomplishments.

                  Get the book here!

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                  9. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

                    Choose Yourself by James Altucher is one of the best motivational books around. James argues that the most valuable asset we have and the one which we should be investing the most time, effort, and resources into is — ourselves. This whole book is about how we can achieve success simply by choosing to invest in ourselves and our growth.

                    This book is sure to inspire and motivate you to invest in developing your talents further and would be an excellent resource for anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. High-Hanging Fruit: Build Something Great by Going Where No One Else Will by Mark Rampolla

                      High-hanging Fruit by Mark Rampolla encourages us to reach higher in our life endeavors, especially business if we want to achieve more success and leave our mark on the world.

                      In this novel, the reader is encouraged to find ways to align their passion, purpose, and integrity to achieve success. These lessons can benefit anyone in any field of work and encourage us to stand up for our beliefs and what’s important to us.

                      Overall, Rampolla wants each of us to remain true to our ore values so that we can each reach our personal definitions of success and promote significant changes in areas of life we are passionate about.

                      Get the book here!

                      11. The Power of Positive Thinking: 10 Traits for Maximum Results by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

                        This international bestseller has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and has helped many people live more fulfilling lives through adopting Dr. Peale’s message of faith and inspiration.

                        Not only does this book help people to achieve happiness and higher levels of life-satisfaction, but it also teaches us that each life is worthwhile.

                        This book instills a belief in one’s self and a feeling of determination and motivation to pursue our goals with power, control, and persistence.

                        Overall, it’s a great motivational book for those individuals seeking a boost of motivation in their daily lives.

                        Get the book here!

                        12. Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

                          When it comes to motivational books, Rachel Hollis nails it!

                          Girl, Stop Apologizing was written primarily for a female audience she was trying to inspire. She wrote this book because all too often, she was seeing women failing to live up to their full potential due to the fear of falling short of perfection and not being enough.

                          In this New York Times #1 bestselling author, Rachel seeks to send a wake-up call to the women currently defining themselves through the lens established by other individuals, instead of how they wish to define themselves.

                          She encourages women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams and to begin fully pursuing them. To help her audience she provides a lot of great information regarding which excuses we should say goodbye to, which habits to adopt, and the skills that will provide you with the confidence to live your best life!

                          Get the book here!

                          13. Now, Discover Your Strengths By Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton

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                            This book takes a unique approach, claiming that not anyone can become anything they want, despite what we were told as children. However, when discussed in-depth, the opinion is quite freeing.

                            This book’s main purpose is to encourage us to ignore those routes which are likely to lead us to dead ends, in favor of pursuing those which we are passionate about and that are more likely to bring us greater success and happiness.

                            Why waste so much time trying to fix our weaknesses when we can double-down on our strengths and allow them to flourish and grow?

                            Definitely think about adding this one to your collection of motivational books.

                            Get the book here!

                            14. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

                              This book, originally published in 1937, was written during the Great Depression and addresses the highly effective and important steps to take if we wish to encourage ourselves to become wealthy. Equally important, Hill outlines the steps we should avoid in this process as well.

                              Readers have continually enjoyed some of the timeless information, words of wisdom, and excellent advice that is presented by Hill in this book. This book is about so much more than getting rich; it’s about figuring out how to get what you want from life!

                              Get the book here!

                              15. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

                                In this self-help guide, Mark Manson tells us to cut it out and to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can figure out what we need to do to truly become better and happier people.

                                This book offers a refreshing take which counters the motivational books currently out there. Mark refuses to sugarcoat his lessons and tells it how it is through his brutally honest approach. Mark encourages us to accept our faults and limitations, the fact that life is not always fair, and that despite our best efforts, not everybody is going to win.

                                Overall, this book presents some great philosophical wisdom for our modern generation and has empowered many individuals to gain control over their actions and their life as a whole.

                                Get the book here!

                                16. Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson

                                  Mark Manson follows his previous #1 international bestseller with this guide discussing the problems we currently have surrounding hope.

                                  Despite believing that we live in the best time in human history, Mark outlines that everything seems to be pretty messed up. There is global warming, corrupt governments, collapsing economies, and everyone is getting offended far too easily. Mark examines our relationships with money, entertainment, and the internet, and discusses that too much of these good things can destroy us.

                                  In this book, Mark challenges us to be more open and honest with ourselves and to connect more with the world around us.

                                  Get the book here!

                                  17. Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum by Neil Patel

                                    Hustle offers a game-changing guide to finding success by encouraging us to outsmart the system. Too many of us feel like we’re fighting a system that’s stacked against us and forcing us to live unfulfilling lives. This book will encourage you to break free from the rat-race and begin achieving more success on your terms through projects you actually enjoy!

                                    This book will help you redefine what hustling means and will help you realize your best path to success is through taking charge of your dreams, creating your own luck, and staying true to yourself.

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                                    If you’re looking for actionable and practical advice that goes beyond simply motivating you, this is a book you will certainly enjoy reading.

                                    Get the book here!

                                    18. Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop

                                      This book presents a refreshing take on self-empowerment and provides an honest, no-nonsense, tough-love guide which aims to help you challenge and get over your self-limiting beliefs

                                      In this book, Bishop gives you the tools and advice required to overcome your self-imposed limitations and to begin creating your unrestrained best-self. He argues that commonly, it isn’t other people standing in our way nor is it our circumstances. Commonly, it’s our negative mindsets and beliefs which are holding us back.

                                      So if you’re looking for motivational books to help you get over these limiting beliefs, you will not regret investing in this novel.

                                      Get the book here!

                                      19. The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins

                                        In The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins reminds us of the vast amount of support we have received from individuals throughout our lives; and that this should push and motivate us to overcome the excuses we have created to impede our progress and achievement.

                                        Through discussing a variety of different habits and entertaining stories, Mel Robbins argues that it only takes us about 5 seconds to become confident, stop procrastination, overcome fear, and live overall happier lifestyles. Just like we can all hold ourselves back, we can also push ourselves forward.

                                        This is a motivational book that is great for anyone looking to quickly add a positive push to their daily life.

                                        Get the book here!

                                        20. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

                                          This novel which shared the wisdom Mitch Albom received from his college professor Morrie Schwartz, has sold over 12 million copies around the world.

                                          In this book, Mitch joins Morrie through the final months of his dying professor’s life every Tuesday to discuss the important messages of life in a truly beautiful and heartwarming fashion.

                                          In the end, the two come together to create one final class: lessons on how to live a good life.

                                          This book is going to inevitably touch your heart and inspire you in ways many other motivational books could never even dream of doing.

                                          Get this book here!

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          If you are able to pick up even just 2 or 3 of these motivational books, you will be well on your way to living a more inspired life.

                                          Happy reading and stay motivated!

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                                          Featured photo credit: Florencia Viadana via unsplash.com

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