9 Things That Can Help When You're Feeling Hopeless (2023)

Whether you feel hopeless about your ability to get out of debt or you feel hopeless about almost everything in life, it is an awful feeling.

Feeling stuck in a place of hopelessness makes life really tough. Fortunately, there are some things you can do when you feel hopeless to make life a bit better—no matter how bad things might seem.

Press Play for Advice On Dealing With Hopelessness

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how you can manage feelings of hopelessness. Click below to listen now.

9 Things That Can Help When You're Feeling Hopeless (1)

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Consider That Your Brain Might Be Lying to You

Your brain might tell you that things are awful, horrible, and dreadful. It may try to convince you that you can’t succeed or tell you that there’s no chance things are going to get better.

But just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Your thoughts may be distorted, inaccurate, or downright wrong.

Hopeless feelings fuel hopeless thoughts. And it’s easy to get caught up in a negative cycle that makes it hard to see that things can get better.

You might even think things like, “I’ve tried everything already and nothing works!” But that’s probably a cognitive distortion. You may have tried a few things—or even 10 things—but you likely haven’t tried everything.

At least be open to the idea that the way you’re thinking might not be accurate. There may be more hope than you imagine.

Argue the Opposite

When you feel hopeless, you’ll likely think about all the reasons why nothing will ever get better. So take a few minutes to argue the opposite.

What’s the evidence that things might work out better than you expect? Or how might things actually get better?

Thinking a bit about the potential positives can open you up to more possibilities. And while there’s a chance that things might not turn out great, there’s also a chance that they might not turn out as bad (or stay as bad) as you’re anticipating.

Arguing the opposite might just open your brain up to the idea that things may not be as gloomy as you’re anticipating.

(Video) 5 Things to Help when Feeling Hopeless

Think About What You Gain From Being Hopeless

Thinking about what you gain from being hopeless sounds like a strange exercise on the surface. After all, you might be thinking, “I don’t gain anything. I don’t want to feel this way.”

But, upon a little more reflection you might discover that feeling hopeless protects you from being disappointed. If you don’t expect anything good to happen, you don’t have to worry about being disappointed if things go poorly.

Being hopeless also might help you feel all right about not taking action.

For example, if you’re hopeless that you’ll ever pay off your debt, you might not bother trying to increase your income (by getting another job) or you might not manage your spending (by creating a budget).

So consider whether you might be gaining something by remaining hopeless. You might find it somehow protects you from creating change or doing anything differently.

Consider What You Could Gain From Developing Hope

On the flipside, consider what you could gain if you became more hopeful. How might your life change? What would you be doing differently if you had hope?

Then, you might go ahead and start acting as if you were hopeful.

For example, you might realize that if you had hope, you’d be going out and meeting new people. Or, you’d be applying for a new job. Go do those things, even if you aren’t hopeful, they’ll work.

Sometimes, you have to change your behavior first and the feelings might follow. So if you act hopeful, you might start to eventually feel more hopeful.

Engage In Problem-Solving

Hopelessness, by definition, is the belief that things aren’t going to get better or that you can’t succeed. But, there is always something you can do to solve a problem or to change how you feel about the problem.

Spend some time thinking about potential solutions to the problem. Brainstorm ideas and keep them in mind, you don’t even necessarily need good ideas. Just see if you can come up with as many strategies as you can to address a problem.

If you can’t solve the problem (like in the case of a loved one’s illness), consider how to change how you feel about the problem. Could spending time with family members help you feel a little better? Might you feel a little more hopeful if you took a mental health day from the workplace?

There’s always something you can do to make things a little better or to help yourself feel a little better.

Talk to a Trusted Friend or Family Member

When you’re struggling to identify possible solutions or you are having a hard time getting unstuck, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Tell them what you’re experiencing.

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They may be able to help you see things from a different perspective. Or, they may offer strategies that can help you feel better.

It can be hard to tell people what you’re going through. However, telling someone could be key to helping you gain a little more hope about your situation.

How to Talk to Friends About Your Depression

Develop a Plan

After you’ve developed ideas—by yourself and/or with someone else—create a plan. Decide what step you are going to take first.

Keep in mind that if plan A doesn’t work, you can always have a plan B. Think of your plan as an experiment and your job is to run as many experiments as you can until you discover what works.

Take Action

Once you have a plan in place, it’s important to take action.

After all, you likely won’t gain hope about your situation by sitting still. Instead, you’ll gain more hope when you start putting yourself out there and start seeing what you can do.

Seek Professional Help

Hopelessness can be a symptom of a mental health issue, like depression. So if your feelings of hopelessness last more than two weeks or you’re concerned about your mental health, talk to someone.

A mental health professional can assess your needs and discuss your treatment options, like talk therapy or medication. Most mental health issues are very treatable. Treatment can help you feel more hopeful about the future.

Get Help Now

We've tried, tested, and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. Find out which option is the best for you.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, just because things feel hopeless doesn’t mean they are. With a little help from someone else or a slightly different perspective, you might discover that things can get better.

How to Cope When You're Feeling Lost

5 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Haatainen K, Tanskanen A, Kylmä J, Honkalampi K, Koivumaa-Honkanen H, Hintikka J, Viinamäki H. Factors associated with hopelessness: a population study. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2004 Jun;50(2):142-52. doi:10.1177/0020764004040961

  2. Starr LR, Davila J. Responding to anxiety with rumination and hopelessness: mechanism of anxiety-depression symptom co-occurrence?Cognit Ther Res. 2012;36(4):321-337. doi:10.1007/s10608-011-9363-1

  3. Larsson A, Hooper N, Osborne LA, Bennett P, McHugh L. Using brief cognitive restructuring and cognitive defusion techniques to cope with negative thoughts. Behav Modif. 2016;40(3):452-82. doi:10.1177/0145445515621488

  4. Griffiths KM, Crisp DA, Barney L, Reid R. Seeking help for depression from family and friends: a qualitative analysis of perceived advantages and disadvantages.BMC Psychiatry. 2011;11:196. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-11-196

  5. Assari S, Lankarani MM. Depressive symptoms are associated with more hopelessness among white than black older adults.Front Public Health. 2016;4:82. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00082

9 Things That Can Help When You're Feeling Hopeless (2)

By Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

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FAQs

How do you keep hope in a hopeless situation? ›

4 strategies to help you find hope
  1. Turn to your support system. Family, friends, or even a mental health professional can help you to get through times of hopelessness. ...
  2. Reframe negative unhelpful thoughts. ...
  3. Focus on what is within your control. ...
  4. Practice mindfulness.
Apr 11, 2022

What two things can make a person feel helpless? ›

Feeling helpless is something that many people experience from time to time. It's a feeling that can strike following a period of stress or as a response to trauma. In other cases, it can be a symptom of a mental illness such as depression.

How do I get hope in life? ›

Taking time to press pause is sometimes the best action you can take to find that spirit of hope again.
  1. 2) Remember what you are thankful for. No matter how hard things get there is always something to be grateful for. ...
  2. 3) Limit your Bad News intake. ...
  3. 4) Focus on what you can look forward to. ...
  4. 5) Talk to hopeful people.

How do I stop deep sadness? ›

What you can do
  1. Acknowledge what's happening. It is okay to not feel okay. ...
  2. Prioritize taking care of yourself. ...
  3. Be mindful of how you're feeling. ...
  4. Maintain connections with others. ...
  5. Seek help from a professional if your sadness becomes overwhelming or feels unmanageable.

What are the four types of hope? ›

4 Examples of Hope
  • Realistic Hope. Realistic hope is hope for an outcome that is reasonable or probable (Wiles, Cott, & Gibson, 2008). ...
  • Utopian Hope. This way of hoping is a collectively oriented hope that collaborative action can lead to a better future for all. ...
  • Chosen Hope. ...
  • Transcendent Hope.
Aug 27, 2019

What gives us hope in difficult times? ›

Thinking about all that you are grateful for puts things in a new and happier perspective, which naturally makes you more hopeful. You can practice gratitude by writing down daily three to five things you are grateful for in a journal. Alternatively, you can think grateful thoughts before you start or end your day.

What triggers hopeless? ›

Hopelessness is frequently associated with a desire to isolate, and with negative feelings such as helplessness and powerlessness. Feelings of hopelessness may be caused by a variety of events such as financial issues, relationship problems, health concerns, or other such negative circumstances.

What are the three elements of helplessness? ›

Seligman's theory of learned helplessness is composed of three components: contingency, cognition, and behavior. Contingency is the outcome of a person's actions; that is the result experienced due to a person's behavior.

How can I help a helpless person? ›

If someone you know says they are feeling overwhelmed or helpless, there are things you can do to support them.
  1. Be a good listener. Listening is more important than giving advice. ...
  2. Encourage them to get help. ...
  3. Be an example. ...
  4. Set boundaries and be realistic.
Sep 7, 2021

What are 3 things that give you hope? ›

WHAT BRINGS YOU HOPE?
  • The dawning of a new day.
  • Nature and gardening (plant a seed and watch it grow)
  • The pursuit of passionate purpose, as well as its achievement, that provides a sense of meaning and reward.
  • Joyful and playful sounds and sights of children and people of all ages.
Dec 27, 2017

What gives you hope everyday? ›

Some people see hope in how people interact with others, such as random acts of kindness. Others find hope in the overall movement by mankind toward a more inclusive future that offers a better life for all. One thing is certain. No matter who you are, hope is important because it gives your life meaning.

What increases hope? ›

Engaging in positive uplifting activities like prayer or meditation can bring peace of mind and increase hope, according to The Conversationalist.

What can I do to be happy again? ›

14 Tips for Finding Happiness Again
  1. Consider therapy. ...
  2. Start or return to a hobby. ...
  3. Ditch (or time limit) your social media intake. ...
  4. Journal. ...
  5. Meditate. ...
  6. Spend time with happy people. ...
  7. Say goodbye to unhealthy people in your life. ...
  8. Do what you love.
Apr 26, 2022

What causes hope in the brain? ›

In the brain, people experience optimism about the future in two key areas: the amygdala, our emotion processing center, and part of a region called the anterior cingulate cortex that is involved in thinking about the self, reflecting on the past, and anticipating the future, particularly with an emotional lens.

What is a prayer for hope? ›

A Prayer for Hope Today

God, you know those things in my heart that I barely dare to hope for, today I give them to you, I trust them to you, and ask that you because I know that you can do more than I could ever guess, imagine or request in wildest dreams (Eph 3:20). God, you are my hope and I trust you. Amen.

What do people hope for? ›

People hope to get out of difficult circumstances. That is often when people do find themselves hoping fervently! But hope also can provide the key to making everyday life better.

How do you make peace with difficult times? ›

9 Ways to Find Peace of Mind in Tough Times
  1. Learn to trust yourself. ...
  2. Focus on what you're learning. ...
  3. Ease your expectations. ...
  4. Open up to someone you trust. ...
  5. Use hope to drive positive action. ...
  6. Move TOWARDS something instead of AWAY. ...
  7. Take a few steps back. ...
  8. Look for the beginning in every ending.
May 9, 2013

How does God help in tough times? ›

The Best Way

God's Word is loaded with promises that teach us about having faith in God during hard times. He tells us to not worry, to pray, and He will give us peace like you can't imagine. He tells us that He is there with us, in the trenches. And even after the struggle, He will strengthen and calm us.

What are the signs of being hopeless? ›

Feelings of Hopelessness
  • Appearing sad or feeling depressed most of the time.
  • Having persistent or worsening trouble sleeping or eating.
  • Feeling anxious or agitated.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and health.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society.
  • Sleeping all the time.

What God says about hopelessness? ›

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

How do you overcome despair? ›

▶ Dealing With Despair: 6 Ways To Find Hope
  1. Take one small step at a time.
  2. Connect to your senses.
  3. Reflect on your thoughts.
  4. Look for meaning.
  5. Lean on others.
  6. Seek professional help.
Mar 4, 2022

What is the antidote to helplessness? ›

Hope is the antidote to helplessness.

What emotion is helplessness? ›

Helplessness is the sense that there isn't anything we can do to change a bad situation and we stop trying. Often helplessness arises in times when we really don't have control, but this feeling can turn into an enduring perspective of ourselves and our environment.

Is self control a behavior? ›

Self-control behavior utilizes a distal goal orientation in decision making in all scenarios, but it is of particular interest in health behavior. The hedonic pull of impulse can result in adverse outcomes in overall health.

What is hopeless theory? ›

That is, the hopelessness theory predicts that the interaction between negative cognitive styles and negative life events engenders a sense of hopelessness. This hopelessness, in turn, was hypothesized to be sufficient by itself to bring about depression.

What is helpless hopeless? ›

Hopelessness is the feeling that nothing can be done by anyone to make the situation better. People may accept that a threat is real, but that threat may loom so large that they feel the situation is hopeless. Helplessness is the feeling that they themselves have no power to improve their situation.

How do you help people who are struggling in life? ›

Five ways you can help someone struggling
  1. Don't force them to talk. Although it's amazing to make yourself available to listen to someone who is struggling, be aware that they might not want to talk about it all the time. ...
  2. Keep inviting them. ...
  3. Send things that remind you of them. ...
  4. Ask them what they want to do. ...
  5. Offer hugs.
Sep 28, 2018

How do you help someone who is struggling with themselves? ›

How to support a friend or family member who's struggling with their mental health
  1. DO listen and validate. ...
  2. DO ask what they need from you. ...
  3. DO offer to help with everyday tasks. ...
  4. DO celebrate their wins, including the small ones. ...
  5. DO read up on what they're struggling with. ...
  6. DO check in with them regularly.
May 28, 2021

How does God help the helpless? ›

The Psalmist says, “For He will deliver the needy who cry out,the afflicted who have no one to help” (Psalm 72:12). Yes! As your cry out to the Lord, He will deliver you from all your problems. Just like Jesus healed a man, because there was nobody to help him.

What happens when feeling hopeless? ›

Hopelessness is a feeling of despair or lack of hope that life can feel better than it does. These feelings may make you pull back from your life and avoid doing things you usually enjoy or being with people you love. If hopelessness becomes severe, it can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Is hopelessness a form of depression? ›

Hopelessness is mostly associated with depression. It's one of the formal symptoms of clinical depression. There are many possible causes of depression, and if you live with the condition, hopelessness can be a result.

What are the 5 characteristics of depression? ›

The psychological symptoms of depression include:
  • continuous low mood or sadness.
  • feeling hopeless and helpless.
  • having low self-esteem.
  • feeling tearful.
  • feeling guilt-ridden.
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others.
  • having no motivation or interest in things.
  • finding it difficult to make decisions.

Is hopelessness a part of anxiety? ›

Anxiety is a negative experience that can be persistent and difficult to control and which can be extremely disruptive to goals and aspirations. Thus, many anxious people may develop hopeless thoughts about their anxiety and the effects it has on their lives.

How do you have faith when things seem hopeless? ›

In the natural it may not look like anything good can come from your situation, but God can use anything for His glory. Don't loose hope, believe despite what it looks like, thank God as if its already done, expect things to turn in your favor, then watch God show out in your life.

How do I motivate myself to be hopeless? ›

Fortunately, there are mental techniques and strategies you can employ to gradually regain the motivation needed to live a full life.
  1. ACCEPT IT AND DON'T PUSH IT AWAY. ...
  2. ONE TASK AT A TIME. ...
  3. SET SMALL GOALS AND REWARD YOURSELF. ...
  4. DON'T FEED THE BEAST. ...
  5. ACTION BEFORE MOTIVATION. ...
  6. ACKNOWLEDGE YOURSELF.
Aug 12, 2020

What you will do if you ever feel depressed? ›

Try these coping strategies if you're feeling depressed.
  1. Stay in touch. Don't withdraw from life. ...
  2. Be more active. Take up some form of exercise. ...
  3. Face your fears. Don't avoid the things you find difficult. ...
  4. Don't drink too much alcohol. For some people, alcohol can become a problem. ...
  5. Try to eat a healthy diet. ...
  6. Have a routine.

What are the 7 forms of depression? ›

7 Common Types of Depression
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) ...
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) ...
  • Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Postpartum Depression (PPD) ...
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) ...
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ...
  • Atypical Depression.

What do you call a person who is always depressed? ›

Overview. Persistent depressive disorder is a continuous, long-term form of depression. You may feel sad and empty, lose interest in daily activities and have trouble getting things done. You may also have low self-esteem, feel like a failure and feel hopeless.

Who is likely to be depressed? ›

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Depression can occur at any age. Some mood changes and depressed feelings occur with normal hormonal changes. But hormonal changes alone don't cause depression.

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