- Why Am I So Emotional? 11 Possible Reasons & What To Do
- Why you have all these emotions.
- Being emotional can be healthy.
- Why you might be feeling emotional:
- 5. Big changes and life turbulence
- 8. Depression and other mental health conditions
- 10. You're touch with your emotions
- 11. You're a highly sensitive person (HSP)
- Healthy ways to process your emotions.
- 3. Recognize the impermanence of your emotion.
- 4. Investigate the origin.
- 6. Meditate with a mantra.
- Emotional Intelligence Toolkit — HelpGuide.org
- Why emotions matter
- Step 1: Learn to quickly relieve stress
- Quick stress relief
- Step 2: Build emotional intelligence (EQ)
- Step 3: Practice the Ride the Wild Horse meditation
- Beginning meditation – 16 minutes
- Intermediate meditation – 18 minutes
- Deeper meditation – 24 minutes
- Deepest meditation – 30 minutes
- Step 4: Continue practicing and enjoy the benefits
- Talk to someone about your experience
- Frequently Asked Questions
- About this toolkit
- Dealing With Difficult Emotions
- Step 1: Identify the Emotion
- Step 2: Take Action
- Step 3: Get Help With Difficult Emotions
- 7 Things To Do When You Feel Hopeless
- 1. The power of distraction
- 2. Create an actionable plan
- 3. Remind yourself that your brain might be lying to you
- 4. Argue for hope
- 5. Confide in a trusted friend or family member
- 6. Focus on things that you can appreciate
- 7. Seek out professional help
- 10 Ways to Boost Your Emotional Health
- 1. Grow Your Circle of Friends to Expand Your Support System
- 2. Learn More to Lessen the Fear of the Unknown
- 3. Get Moving to Improve Mood and Lessen Anxiety
- 4. Have Sex to Build Confidence and Self-Worth
- 5. Develop a Passion by Investing Time in a New Hobby
- 6. Eat and Drink Healthfully and in Moderation
- 7. Meditate or Practice Yoga to Relieve Stress
- 8. Manage Your Time by Setting Weekly Goals
- 9. Get Enough Sleep to Maintain Energy and Increase Productivity
- 10. Learn to Say No and Refrain From Overextending Yourself
Why Am I So Emotional? 11 Possible Reasons & What To Do
Sometimes we feel extra emotional or hypersensitive without any explanation. It may be a sudden trend you're noticing, or it may be what feels an intrinsic part of your personality. Here's what you need to know about heightened emotions and possible reasons you're so emotional right now or in general.
Why you have all these emotions.
Humans have emotions for a reason. Emotions are important, normal signals that help us identify internal or external needs.
«They motivate us to act,» says Emma Carpenter, M.A., a marriage and family therapist at A Better Life Therapy.
«In the days of hunters and gatherers, emotions were used as a way to protect ourselves from predators and the elements.
» Even though we're far from those hunter-gatherer days, emotions are still helpful because they tell us what's good for us and what's bad for us.
Being emotional can be healthy.
When we think about emotions as signals, it becomes clear that there's no such thing as a «good» or «bad» emotion.
All emotions are there to motivate us, give us information, and help us connect to one another and to ourselves, Carpenter says.
Some emotions may be indicating pain and thus be harder to deal with, but having the emotion is what tells you that something needs to shift or change.
What can push emotions into unhealthy territory is a lack of understanding about how to cope with them.
It's important to acknowledge and process your emotions so you can move past them rather than getting stuck, says psychotherapist Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW.
For example, acting impulsively in response to an emotion can be unhealthy, whereas taking time to think about your emotions before responding is often more productive and can help you move past them more quickly in the long term.
In other words, having a lot of emotions is healthy and normal. Lacking healthy ways to cope with your emotions is what can get you into trouble.
Why you might be feeling emotional:
Not getting enough sleep can make it tough to identify your emotions or make your way through them in a balanced way. Research has shown sleep deprivation can affect emotional processing. In addition to irritability and mood disturbances, insomnia has been linked with rumination, aka repetitive thought processes and excessive worrying.
To improve your sleep hygiene and create a calmer place to land, avoid drinking caffeine late in the day, begin a bedtime routine, and turn off your devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Nutritional psychiatry is booming for a reason: Research tells us food can impact your mental health and your body’s ability to process and balance our neurochemicals.
That means what you eat affects how you feel, which can affect your overall well-being. For example, a high-quality mediterranean diet has been associated with emotional wellness, especially for women.
In case it gives you any clues: that’s a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and legumes.
If you're feeling emotionally control, consider what your diet has looked for the past week. What can you change?
For starters, here are some superfoods for better mood and foods that help with anxiety.
Regular exercise has been proven to help with emotional regulation by providing you with much-needed endorphins and a clearer mind. That exercise doesn't have to be vigorous, either—but moving your body will help you sleep better and feel better, physically and emotionally.
If you're leading a generally stressful life, that stress can cause you to be more emotional, irritable, or generally moody. Chronic stress is associated with anger, in particular.
5. Big changes and life turbulence
Some life experiences may make a person more ly to be emotional in general, says Hendel. Big life transitions, relationship troubles, and world crises a pandemic can cause heightened anxiety, which can make you feel emotional as a result. Some studies have shown that using mindfulness as a mechanism for responding to stress can help you regulate your emotions more effectively.
When a tragic event happens in your life, your emotional well-being can suffer. Research suggests people have heightened emotional reactions after trauma, including sexual assault, physical assault, car accidents, and significant illness and injury.
Emotions fear, shame, guilt, anger, and sadness tend to be particularly high following trauma for obvious reasons. Early life stress, such as child abuse and stress, has also been linked with psychiatric disorders including depression and bipolar.
That said, trauma is complex: Your emotions may feel control, or you may feel you don't have emotions at all. Both of these responses are normal. Either way, it's important to seek help from a qualified therapist so you can work through the challenging situation and clue into what your emotions might be telling you.
Hendel says it's important to remember that people who've experienced a lack of safety and security in their lives are also ly to have more emotional triggers.
Anyone who's been through PMS or been pregnant knows that hormones can cause your emotions to spike unpredictably at certain times in life. It's important to remember the impermanence of your emotions during these times and to develop healthy mechanisms for labeling the emotional tidal waves as they rise and fall.
8. Depression and other mental health conditions
Conditions depression and anxiety are linked with difficulty regulating emotions.
Anxious individuals often find themselves in a flurry of emotions tied to fears about the past and the future, while depressed individuals may experience emotional muting.
Knowing your mental health history can give you a touchpoint for checking in when your emotions feel control. Are these signals telling you the truth about perceived warning signs, or are they igniting fears that may not be rooted in reality?
Other conditions ADHD and personality disorders can also affect mood and emotional processing. If you're concerned, you might benefit from speaking with a trained mental health professional.
Studies have also shown that emotional functioning is heritable, meaning that you may get your inclination toward emotiveness partially from your parents or ancestors. Some research suggests particularly emotional people may have slightly different brain chemistry, including increased blood flow in the regions that process emotions and empathy.
10. You're touch with your emotions
Some people have a tendency to suppress their emotions or believe that avoiding emotional reactions is «being strong.» Thus, when their emotions finally get too powerful to ignore, they feel they're control or being «overly emotional»—when in reality, they've just been touch with their emotions for so long that they're not used to experiencing them.
In other words, you may feel you're being very emotional right now because you think emotions are not OK, when in reality your feelings right now are totally normal and even healthy.
Many cultures still treat emotions as untouchable entities not acceptable for public conversation, and there is little education about how to process difficult emotions.
People raised as boys and men, especially, are discouraged from engaging with their emotions. If you tend to judge others and/or yourself for being emotional, it's worth interrogating your meta-emotions—i.e.
, how you feel about emotions in general.
11. You're a highly sensitive person (HSP)
Yes, emotional can simply be your natural disposition, Hendel says.
Some people are by nature more sensitive than others. These people are sometimes referred to as highly sensitive people (HSPs). As much as 20% of the population may be HSPs, according to some research. Carpenter says highly sensitive people might be more ly to feel more deeply—which may mean they're prone to heightened emotional experiences.
Healthy ways to process your emotions.
Sometimes it can feel your emotions are getting the best of you. Carpenter uses depression as an example: When you're depressed, you may feel emotionally you're missing something in your life. Along with this, you may think that you are unlovable, unwanted, or maybe even undeserving—and while the emotional experience is valid, the thoughts behind it aren't helpful.
«This is when emotions can feel difficult to work through,» Carpenter says. «But with practice, we can feel less overwhelmed.»
Processing your emotions in a healthy way is all about paying attention. Rather than burying them, learn to separate your emotions from their associated thoughts using this emotional coping method from psychologist Danielle Dowling, Psy.D.:
Ignoring your emotions can lead to an explosion later on. Instead, try to identify your emotions by noticing where they live in your physical body. You might feel an emotion as a stomachache or jaw tension.
Joy, anger, sadness—all emotions are healthy and can help you, and the first step is simply to name it. It's also important to remember that there's a difference between saying, «I am angry,» and «I feel angry.» You are not your emotion.
Hendel also notes there are two categories of emotions to watch for: core emotions and inhibitory emotions. Core emotions tell us about our environments. «Core emotions are brilliant,» she says.
«Their innate programming tells us important information to help us thrive.» They include sadness, fear, anger, joy, excitement, sexual excitement, and disgust, she says.
Inhibitory emotions, on the other hand, are emotions that often prevent you from experiencing those core emotions. These include shame, anxiety, and guilt.
3. Recognize the impermanence of your emotion.
You won't feel this way forever. Emotions are fleeting, waves passing through your body.
4. Investigate the origin.
Take a moment to think about what has happened to cause that negative emotion. Ask yourself: Why do I feel this way?
Tolerating negative emotions can be anxiety-provoking, but moving through hard stuff—even if it takes a while—can help you build personal awareness and coping skills. Emotions may be your control, but how you respond to them is within your control.
6. Meditate with a mantra.
Consider meditating with a phrase in your mind. This can help you control your anxiety, check in with yourself, and increase happiness. Dowling suggests using the phrase, «Breathe in peace, love, forgiveness. Breathe out anything that no longer serves me.»
Sometimes emotions can be tough to handle alone. If you feel deeply distressed or control, seek help from a qualified therapist. If your emotions feel they are negatively affecting different areas of your life, this is also a sign that you should reach out to learn new tools and strategies for coping.
If your emotions are leading to suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Emotional Intelligence Toolkit — HelpGuide.org
Have you ever felt stress, anxiety, depression, or anger was controlling you? Do you often act impulsively, doing or saying things you know you shouldn’t, only to regret it later? Or do you feel disconnected from your feelings and emotionally numb? These can all be signs that you need to work on building your emotional intelligence (EQ).
By learning to keep stress and emotions in check, you’ll not only improve how you communicate with others, but you’ll also be able to get off the “emotional rollercoaster,” even out extremes in mood, and bring your life into balance. This toolkit will show you how.
HelpGuide’s Emotional Intelligence Toolkit is a step-by-step guide that can help you to:
- Change self-defeating moods and attitudes.
- Quickly manage stress and anxiety.
- Stay connected to what you feel as well as think.
- Follow through on your hopes and dreams.
Why emotions matter
The toolkit is the recent transformations that have taken place in the field of psychology. Emotion is now at the heart of clinical theory and is seen as the foundation to psychological change. We also now know that all of our thinking benefits greatly from having an emotional component.
As you develop the capacity to better recognize and understand your own emotions, you’ll find it easier to appreciate how others are feeling, improving how you communicate and helping your personal and professional relationships to flourish.
And as you bring stress into balance and learn to tolerate even unpleasant emotions, you’ll discover that your capacity for experiencing positive emotions has grown and intensified. You’ll find it easier to play, laugh, and experience joy.
No matter how stressed or emotionally control you feel now, by drawing on these tools, life can and will get lighter and brighter.
Video: Why emotions matter
Before we begin learning the skills of emotional intelligence that enable us to override stress and stay healthy and happy, it’s important to first take a look at things we do that can block our ability to acquire new habits.
Video: Roadblocks to Awareness
Step 1: Learn to quickly relieve stress
Being able to manage and relieve stress is the key to staying balanced, focused, and in control, no matter what challenges you face in life. As well as helping you cope with day-to-day stressors, employing quick stress relief techniques will also help you bring your nervous system into balance when practicing the meditation part of this toolkit.
There are countless techniques for dealing with stress. Talking face-to-face with an understanding friend, exercise, yoga, and meditation, for example, are all great ways to ease stress and anxiety.
But it may not be practical (or even possible) to go for a run or meditate when you’re frazzled by your morning commute, stuck in a stressful meeting at work, or fried from another argument with your spouse.
For situations these, you need something more accessible. That’s where quick stress relief comes in.
Quick stress relief
The best way to reduce stress quickly is by taking a deep breath and using your senses—what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch—or through a soothing movement. By viewing a favorite photo, smelling a specific scent, listening to a favorite piece of music, tasting a piece of gum, or hugging a pet, for example, you can quickly relax and focus yourself.[Read: Quick Stress Relief]
Of course, not everyone responds to each sensory experience in the same way. The key to quick stress relief is to experiment and discover the unique sensory experiences that work best for you.
Video: Quick Stress Relief
Step 2: Build emotional intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, understand, and use your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress and anxiety, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. When it comes to happiness and success in your relationships, career, and personal goals, EQ matters just as much as the better known IQ.
Emotional intelligence is commonly defined by four attributes:
- Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. You know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
- Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Relationship management – You’re able to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
Many of us are disconnected from our emotions—especially strong emotions such as anger, sadness, fear—because we’ve been taught to try to shut off our feelings. But while you can deny or numb your feelings, you can’t eliminate them.
They’re still there, whether you’re aware of them or not. And even unpleasant emotions can have beneficial aspects.
Sadness can support emotional healing, for example, fear can trigger life-saving action, and anger can mobilize and inspire.[Read: Improving Emotional Intelligence]
Unfortunately, without being connected to all of your emotions, you can’t manage stress, fully understand your own behavior, or appropriately control how you think and act. But whatever your circumstances or challenges, the skills for improving EQ and managing your emotions can be learned at any time.
Video: Developing Emotional Awareness
Step 3: Practice the Ride the Wild Horse meditation
Many of us struggle to manage our emotions. Our feelings can often seem a wild horse, full of fear and uncontrolled energy. They may cause you to freeze, act out, or shut down—making it difficult to think rationally, causing you to say and do things you later regret. Or you may go to great lengths to avoid difficult emotions by:
Distracting yourself with obsessive thoughts, mindless entertainment, and addictive behaviors. Watching television for hours, drinking, gambling, overeating, playing computer games, and compulsively using smartphones or the Internet are common ways to avoid dealing with your feelings.
Sticking with one emotional response that you feel comfortable with, no matter what the situation requires. For example, constantly joking around to cover up insecurities or getting angry all the time to avoid feeling sad or anxious.
Shutting down or shutting out intense emotions. If you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, you may cope by numbing yourself. You may feel completely disconnected from your emotions, you no longer have feelings at all.
Instead of trying to ignore strong emotions, you can accept and tame them by taking up the reins and learning how to ride them. This is where the Ride the Wild Horse mindfulness meditation comes in.
As well as helping you to relax, it also teaches you how to harness all of your emotions—even the uncomfortable or overwhelming ones you’ve been trying to avoid.
You’ll learn how to ride out intense emotions, remaining in control of the experience and in control of your behavior.
Beginning meditation – 16 minutes
Learn how to relax and open yourself up to discovering physical and emotional sensations throughout your body. Move up to the intermediate meditation when you feel attuned to the feelings and sensations throughout your body.
Intermediate meditation – 18 minutes
Learn how to identify the physical and emotional sensations in your body that stand out from the rest—that feel stronger or different. Move up to the deeper meditation when you are able to pinpoint and focus on different or unusual sensations and feelings in your body.
Deeper meditation – 24 minutes
Learn how to stay emotionally connected even in situations that make you feel uncomfortable or mildly stressed. Move up to the deepest meditation when you are able to remain calm and focused in such situations.
Deepest meditation – 30 minutes
Learn how to remain focused, alert, and emotionally aware at all times, even in the most stressful situations.
Step 4: Continue practicing and enjoy the benefits
It’s important to continue practicing the Ride the Wild Horse meditation until you’re able to stay connected to your feelings and remain calm under stress in your daily life.
Each time you practice the meditation, you should feel a little more energy and a little more comfortable with your emotional experience. But don’t rush the meditative process. You will absorb more if you move slowly.
Take time to notice the small changes that add up to a life change.
At the end of each meditation, as you shift your attention away from an exclusively internal focus back onto your everyday concerns, some awareness of what you’re feeling will ly remain with you.
This means that you’re integrating the process into your everyday life, which will give you a greater sense of control over your emotions. Of course, learning new skills takes time and effort, especially if your energy is being sapped by depression, anxiety, or other challenges.
But if you start small with baby steps undertaken at times of the day when you have the most energy, learning a new skill set can be easier than you think.
Practice, practice, practice. The more you repeat the meditations, the more comfortable you will feel with your emotions and the greater change you’ll experience in your thoughts, feelings, and actions. With regular practice, you can actually change your brain in ways that will make you feel more confident, resilient, and in control.[Read: Surviving Tough Times by Building Resilience]
Set up predictable challenges. Try practicing your new emotional intelligence skills at predictable times of stress, when the stakes are low. For example, tune into your body while doing household chores or commuting through heavy traffic.
Expect setbacks. Don’t lose hope if you backslide into old habits now and then. It happens. Instead of giving up after a setback, vow to start fresh next time and learn from your mistakes.
When in doubt, return to your body. If you’re struggling to manage your mood in a tough situation, take a deep breath, and apply quick stress relief.
Talk to someone about your experience
Try to find a person you can talk to about your experiences with the meditation. What did you learn about yourself? What did you discover about your emotions? Speaking to someone face-to-face will help you retain what you’ve learned.
Video: Unexpected Rewards
Frequently Asked Questions
How much time do I need to invest in Ride the Wild Horse?
It takes about 21 to 28 consecutive days to create a new habit, but if you do the process correctly and often, you’ll experience daily benefits. As you want the process to become second nature to you—so you don’t “forget” to apply the skills in times of extreme stress—it may take a little longer.
What should I do if I initially feel something in one part of my body, and a stronger sensation occurs somewhere else?
Always follow the intensity. Focus on the strongest sensation you feel.
What if I don’t feel anything or I just feel empty?
That’s normal. Pay attention to the feeling of having no feeling, or of being numb or empty.
I’m getting emotional during the meditation, is that normal?
Yes. Releasing repressed feelings can be intense. If you cry, tremble, moan, or make other sounds, remember to breathe deeply and hold your focus. It is okay to experience these emotions—as long as you can calm and focus yourself and feel in control of the process.
If after numerous attempts you still feel uncomfortable, it may be an indication of unresolved trauma from your past. Consider consulting a trauma specialist.
About this toolkit
The Emotional Intelligence Toolkit is the empowering life work of HelpGuide’s co-founder, Dr. Jeanne Segal.
Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson
Last updated: December 2020
Dealing With Difficult Emotions
Emotions (feelings) are a normal and important part of our lives.
Some emotions are positive. Think of happiness, joy, interest, curiosity, excitement, gratitude, love, and contentment. These positive emotions feel good. Negative emotions — sadness, anger, loneliness, jealousy, self-criticism, fear, or rejection — can be difficult, even painful at times.
That's especially true when we feel a negative emotion too often, too strongly, or we dwell on it too long.
Negative emotions are impossible to avoid, though. Everyone feels them from time to time. They may be difficult, but we can learn to handle them.
Here are three steps that can help you handle negative emotions.
Step 1: Identify the Emotion
Learning to notice and identify your feelings takes practice. In addition to focusing on your feelings, check in with your body, too. You may feel body sensations with certain emotions — perhaps your face gets hot, for example, or your muscles tense.
- Be aware of how you feel. When you have a negative emotion, such as anger, try to name what you're feeling. For example:That guy Ian in my study group makes me so mad! I get so jealous when I see that girl/guy with my ex. I feel afraid whenever I have to walk past those bullies.
- Don't hide how you feel from yourself. You might not want to broadcast your feelings to other people ( your ex, for example, or that guy in your study group who is making you mad). But don't suppress your feelings entirely. Simply naming the feeling is a lot better than pretending not to have it — or exploding without thinking.
- Know why you feel the way you do. Figure out what happened that got you feeling the way you do. For example:Whenever we do group projects, Ian finds a way to take all the credit for other people's work. Our teacher thinks Ian's the star of the team, even though he never has his own ideas. When I see my ex flirting with other people, it reminds me that I still have feelings for him/her. Even though the bullies don't pick on me, I see what they do to other people and it worries me.
- Don't blame. Being able to recognize and explain your emotions isn't the same as blaming someone or something for the way you feel. Your ex probably isn't seeing someone new as a way to get back at you, and the guy who takes credit for your work might not even realize what he is doing. How you feel when these things happen comes from inside you. Your feelings are there for a reason — to help you make sense of what's going on.
- Accept all your emotions as natural and understandable. Don't judge yourself for the emotions you feel. It's normal to feel them. Acknowledging how you feel can help you move on, so don't be hard on yourself.
Step 2: Take Action
Once you've processed what you're feeling, you can decide if you need to express your emotion. Sometimes it's enough to just realize how you feel, but other times you'll want to do something to feel better.
- Think about the best way to express your emotion. Is this a time when you need to gently confront someone else? Talk over what you're feeling with a friend? Or work off the feeling by going for a run? For example:It won't solve anything to show my anger to Ian — it may even make him feel more superior! But my feelings tell me that I need to avoid getting in another situation where he takes control over a project. I'll hold my head high around my ex, then I'll put on some sad songs and have a good cry in my room to help me release my feelings and eventually let go. My fear of being around those bullies is a sign that they have gone too far. Perhaps I should talk about what's going on with a school counselor.
- Learn how to change your mood. At a certain point, you'll want to shift from a negative mood into a positive one. Otherwise your thinking may get stuck on how bad things are, and that can drag you down into feeling worse. Try doing things that make you happy, even if you don't feel it at the time. For example, you might not be in the mood to go out after a breakup, but going for a walk or watching a funny movie with friends can lift you that negative space.
- Build positive emotions. Positive feelings create a sense of happiness and well being. Make it a habit to notice and focus on what's good in your life — even the little things, the praise your dad gave you for fixing his bookshelves or how great the salad you made for lunch tastes. Noticing the good things even when you're feeling bad can help you shift the emotional balance from negative to positive.
- Seek support. Talk about how you're feeling with a parent, trusted adult, or a friend. They can help you explore your emotions and give you a fresh way of thinking about things. And nothing helps you feel more understood and cared for than the support of someone who loves you for who you are.
- Exercise. Physical activity helps the brain produce natural chemicals that promote a positive mood. Exercise also can release stress buildup and help you from staying stuck on negative feelings.
Step 3: Get Help With Difficult Emotions
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can't shake a tough emotion. If you find yourself stuck in feelings of sadness or worry for more than a couple of weeks, or if you feel so upset that you think you might hurt yourself or other people, you may need extra help.
Talk to a school counselor, parent, trusted adult, or therapist. Counselors and therapists are trained to teach people how to break negative emotions. They can provide lots of tips and ideas that will help you feel better.
7 Things To Do When You Feel Hopeless
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Hopeless is an interesting word.
It’s interesting because there are two very different perceptions of hopelessness that you can often see to reach out to the hopeless.
First, you have the people trying to spark a light in the absolute darkness that is utter hopelessness, the kind of darkness where there is a total lack of oxygen and fuel to take the spark.
It’s the kind of emptiness where nothing exists: there are no positives to look forward to, there are no negatives currently tearing you to pieces. It’s just empty darkness, floating aimlessly in outer space directly into a black hole.
And then you have hopelessness as a stark fear of your situation not improving, where you’re not so severe that you’re still able to actually feel emotions hopelessness.
It might be that a lot of things haven’t worked out, or maybe you’ve been stuck in a bad situation for a long time, or maybe you’re just going through a lot right now. Maybe it’s something chronic, having a terminal illness, where all you can do is accept the situation.
Hopeless covers a lot of territory – and we’re bringing that up for a reason. This is a list of things to do when you feel hopeless that will help you find a way to survive and progress against whatever you’re facing.
We want to reinforce that this cannot possibly be an exhaustive list. We want to reiterate that if you are hopeless, read this list and find nothing that connects with you; that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something out there to help you.
The fact of the matter is, if you feel hopeless, you should seek professional help from a certified mental health professional to get to the core of why you feel hopeless and address it.
That kind of extreme feeling is not something you’ll be able to fix on your own. And even though we can give you some information on trying to survive and crawl forward, we can’t provide specific advice that will help you address whatever trauma, mental illness, or problems are fueling your hopelessness.
You will need professional help. If you are ready to find some, click here to connect with a counselor via BetterHelp.com.
If you can’t afford help, call around to different providers and ask about charity-based services for no or low-income people or sliding fees. There may be help available through funding that isn’t visible to the public eye.
In the meantime, let’s talk about some strategies to surviving this hopelessness until you can get the hole.
1. The power of distraction
Hopelessness is a state that gets worse the more you dwell on it. That means that idle time or too much time to think can be an enemy of progress.
A good way to get through it is to distract yourself with something else and force yourself the habits you would normally have while in that dark mental space.
For example, if you curl up in bed and stare at the wall, force yourself to go out and about somewhere.
Go to a local park or shopping center, sit, and take in the scenery. Focus on different elements in what you’re seeing. Look at the traffic, the animals, the people, anything that might be going on. Focus instead on that, rather than feeding the hopelessness.
Get out and exercise. Go out and have dinner. Watch a movie. Do just about anything other than sit and dwell on the feelings. That will make them worse.
Do NOT turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the emptiness. Self-medicating through substance abuse is such a common thing, but you want to avoid it if you can. That creates an additional problem that you’ll eventually need to deal with. The party always ends sooner or later.
2. Create an actionable plan
Sometimes hopelessness stems from a lack of direction. Mental health problems depression can cause a person to become rooted in place because they lack the energy or motivation to move forward.
One way to combat this is to create an actionable plan of attainable goals that will move you in the direction you need to go.
For example, let’s say that you want to find a therapist. There is a series of steps that you can take toward accomplishing that goal. Jump on the internet, search for therapists in your area, look at the information you find online, call the different providers, get an appointment scheduled, and then actually go to the appointment when it rolls in.
That kind of planning can be applied to anything from finding a counselor to ordering a pizza, to looking for a job.
And it is helpful to have that plan and list in hand when your brain tells you that nothing is worth doing, and that everything is pointless.
3. Remind yourself that your brain might be lying to you
There are a lot of mental health conditions that distort the way we feel and interpret the world.
Sometimes a mental illness will create completely false emotions and distorted thoughts to support those emotions. And when we jump on those thought processes and flow with them, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how true they feel.
But, often, they aren’t true. Most problems can be addressed and solved. Sure, there are negative situations that are thoroughly unpleasant, but it won’t always be that way. Things will eventually change, one way or another.
Anchor yourself back to reality by reminding yourself that these feelings may not accurately reflect your situation.
You may be in a situation where you aren’t sure how to move forward, and that’s okay. There are answers out there somewhere; it might just take some more time and effort to find them.
4. Argue for hope
Hopelessness is often a state of powerlessness, feeling as though you cannot effectively change or things will not get better. Those feelings can stem from a bad life situation, mental illness, or being overwhelmed by what you’re presently experiencing.
One way that you can push back against all of that is to argue with yourself for hope. Focus on things that you can change, what you might be able to attain, what opportunities you may be able to create for yourself in the future. Things may be bad now, but they don’t have to stay that way.
You may also want to try looking at inspirational people or people who have accomplished the goals that you’re looking for.
There are a lot of people who have managed to overcome some terrible circumstances, and you can do that too. It’s certainly not going to be easy or fun, but it is still there for you.
5. Confide in a trusted friend or family member
Sometimes it helps to air out the negative thoughts to give them less power. Talking to someone you trust can provide a much-needed reprieve from negative feelings.
They may provide a different, more balanced perspective that isn’t rooted in the negativity or emptiness of hopelessness.
And even if they can’t necessarily provide help, it can be good to have someone sit with you in your struggles for a little while, if for no other reason than to remember you aren’t alone.
Now, if you don’t have a trusted friend or family member, you may want to consider a support group or online forum where you can be around other people that have similar struggles as you. Just being around other people who are going through similar things can be comforting at times.
6. Focus on things that you can appreciate
There are probably things in your life that you appreciate. That might be good music, a hobby, another person, an experience you overcame; whatever works so long as it’s something you can appreciate.
Spend some of your time with the thing that you appreciate. Focus on gratitude for the thing and remind yourself of the better parts of life.
The hopelessness may be something that is just throwing you off at the moment as you experience a dip in your mental health. That gratitude and appreciation for whatever things resonate with you can help temper off the negative feelings.
7. Seek out professional help
As we previously mentioned, hopelessness is a pretty serious emotion that can point to different problems.
If you are experiencing hopelessness, it would be a good idea to talk to a certified mental health professional to address the underlying reasons. You can click here to connect with one of the experienced counselors on BetterHelp.com.
Don’t give in to those negative feelings. Things will change, sooner or later. They always do.
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10 Ways to Boost Your Emotional Health
Taking care of your emotional health is as important as taking care of your physical body. If your emotional health is balance, you may experience high blood pressure, ulcers, chest pain, or a host of other physical symptoms.
When you feel good about yourself, it's much easier to cope with life's little ups and downs as well as bigger events, such as divorce or a death, says Jeff Gardere, PhD, a clinical psychologist and an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City.
Here are 10 ways you can practice better stress management and boost your self-esteem. These strategies will help you stay resilient through everyday stresses and when larger personal issues arise.
1. Grow Your Circle of Friends to Expand Your Support System
«It's very important that you have a support group of friends and family,» Dr. Gardere says. «You need people whom you can talk to about your problems — people who will listen to you when you need to get things off your chest — so that you know you're not alone in whatever it is.»
2. Learn More to Lessen the Fear of the Unknown
«Knowledge is power,» Gardere says. If you have a problem, learn whatever you can about the issue or the health condition you're facing. The more you know, the less you will fear what might happen, Gardere says.
3. Get Moving to Improve Mood and Lessen Anxiety
Any form of exercise that you enjoy will do. «Regular exercise works as a good partner for people who are on medication,» Gardere says. Exercise also works well for people who have mild or moderate depression and don't need to be on medication. Think of it as a great tool for stress management.
4. Have Sex to Build Confidence and Self-Worth
Intimacy within a committed relationship has all sorts of emotional benefits — it can help make you feel good about yourself and boost self-esteem. «Figure out a schedule that works for you and your trusted partner — that could be once a week or three times a week or twice a month,» Gardere says.
5. Develop a Passion by Investing Time in a New Hobby
Everyone should have at least one hobby, Gardere says, whether it's taking care of plants, collecting antiques, or listening to music. You should do something that brings you some real joy — a passion that's all yours and that no one can take from you. Having a hobby and taking pride in it is a great way to boost self-esteem.
6. Eat and Drink Healthfully and in Moderation
Alcohol can be a good stress reducer, but you must indulge in extreme moderation, Gardere says. The same advice applies to indulging in food. You can eat what you want and enjoy it as long as you eat smaller portions and get regular exercise, he says. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your physical and your emotional health.
7. Meditate or Practice Yoga to Relieve Stress
These types of activities are effective for stress management. Meditation is a focused form of guided thought. Yoga and tai chi, while movement-oriented, are also proven stress busters.
Other stress-reducing techniques include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're unsure of how to get started, take a class and learn how to practice on your own for 30 minutes, three times a week.
8. Manage Your Time by Setting Weekly Goals
If you make a schedule and set goals for yourself for the week, «you'll be more on top of your days, and when you're more on top of your days, you're more on top of your life,» Gardere says. As you cross off the tasks on your to-do list, you will feel a sense of accomplishment which will help reduce stress, he adds.
9. Get Enough Sleep to Maintain Energy and Increase Productivity
«People who get a good night's sleep wake up with more energy and tend to be more productive,» Gardere says. If you are overly tired, every task and responsibility can seem exaggerated, and even small problems will feel big ones.
10. Learn to Say No and Refrain From Overextending Yourself
If you try to do more than you can handle, you will only end up frustrated and stressed out. If someone asks you to do something you absolutely can't do, say no. At the very least, ask for help. And if you can't do it, explain why kindly but firmly.
Nurturing your mind is as important as nurturing your body, and it will make you better able to handle whatever life throws at you. However, if your emotional problems are serious and you can't seem to shake them yourself, or if you're having issues with anxiety or depression, it's very important that you see a mental health professional and get help, Gardere says.