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Staying Hopeful in Difficult Times

Matthew Cuddeback, LCSW

There are times in our lives in which the sad, frustrating, hurtful, and disturbing seems to increase around us. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy, positive attitude when this happens. It is important to have a good balance of self-care and staying attuned to some of these difficult issues because it is important to stay informed and prepare. Below are a few tips for how to maintain this balance and stay hopeful and healthy in dark times. 

  • Limit Engagement with Difficult Topics: When everywhere you look there are heartbreaking headlines about human rights abuses, terrifying stories about the environment and global warming, apathy spreading, and global health concerns, it is easy to feel both hopeless and numb. It is important to limit your exposure to and engagement with these difficult topics. It may be time to unfollow certain people on social media, change the kind of podcast you listen to, and stop watching the news so frequently. 
  • Stay Informed: The first point highlights the importance of not engaging too heavily with difficult topics, this is about balancing that. It is important to know when enough is enough for you and when you need to disconnect. At the same time, it is important to have some sense of what is going on around you, it helps us grow as people and create more empathy when we try to understand all aspects of a difficult topic. It also can be useful to understand the topic as it may help you better navigate the issue if you find yourself directly affected by it. 
  • Focus on The Good: In most stories that can feel overwhelming there is often something good there too. This is not to regurgitate the adage about silver lining, but instead when you hear the story on the news about a horrible natural disaster, it is important to also look for the people who are doing something to help. It doesn’t negate the sad event, but it helps us see that even in terrible situations there are often good things that occurred in there somewhere and that can help us hold on to hope and optimism.
  • Surround Yourself with Healthy People: If the person you work close to is constantly updating you on things, they read about a scary health issue like Coronavirus it can be overwhelming. It is not your job to help them navigate this in a healthier way, but that doesn’t mean you need to let them effect you with their concerns and anxieties. If someone is talking about things from a perspective, you find difficult or unhealthy it is okay to not engage with them if you need to do so for your self-care.
  • Try to Be A Positive Force: If you are struggling with hopelessness and struggling to find the good in sad situations it may mean you need to take it upon yourself to do something to be a positive force. This is a good time to volunteer or reach out to others to help. It can be scary to take this kind of step, but it helps people feel more empathy for others and empowered when feeling down.

These are difficult times, there is much that is not going well, and it can be daunting to hear about it and be affected by it in so many different aspects of our lives. However, it is important to not lose hope. There are things we can do to manage such heaviness in a healthy way and that will help us get through it and come out the other end in as healthy a place as possible. If you are struggling with maintaining hope, please reach out to Symmetry Counseling to talk to someone. 

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