The human psyche is a spectacular marvel of nature. Every day, we come across different thought patterns and how they impact our behaviour and emotional wellbeing. Hope is a widely discussed phenomenon regarding our mental and physical health. Without hope, a person can be subject to depression leading to sleepless nights and other general health issues. Studies centred around hope are as old as time, and they always give us more food for thought.
What is hope?
If there’s a question that’s hard to answer, it’s this; what is hope?
Most people describe it as a positive affirmation, the belief that there is a silver lining to every circumstance and will bring better tidings. Psychology views hope as an emotion that takes root in positive feelings about what is to come, whether near or far away.
Hope is a subjective matter for every person. Many people tie being hopeful to being religious and believing in a higher power. They argue that being optimistic means one is trusting a higher power to look out for them. The nature of this belief picks people up even when they think they’ve hit rock bottom. And that’s what makes hope such a critical point, the fact that it’s known to turn circumstances around.
Has COVID-19 dampened hope?
If it’s one thing a pandemic can do, it is taking people’s hopes away. When the virus initially spread, people clung to hope like a second skin. They were positive it would go away in a few weeks, and they would be out on the streets again, with life being as every day as it always had been.
However, after being quarantined for months on end, the reality of the situation started sinking in. That’s when the pandemic shifted from being a time when people tried out different banana bread recipes and extended their creativity to a time they just wanted to be done with. That’s when people started losing hope. The impact of the cycle of despair was different for every individual.
Previously, people were hoping for life to go back to normal, now as they try to accept life with caution against Covid as the new typical, hope seems bleak. As a result, it didn’t feel as essential to comply with regulations against the virus, stay indoors or sanitise as regularly, simply because people weren’t as hopeful that the virus would go away for good. But that’s not all the damage it caused.
The impacts of hopelessness on the general public:
The presence of the coronavirus has changed many things. Public gatherings have become less inclusive, and there’s a sense of paranoia that follows everywhere. Even when people take all necessary precautions, they often end up testing positive against the virus.
In addition, many people have lost their loved ones to the virus. As a result, the sadness associated with the pandemic is slowly becoming a constant. Without as many avenues to distract us from our reality right now, people are falling back into painful bouts of depression. Depression and anxiety have become more common diagnoses among children and teenagers.
How overthinking kills hope:
Being isolated or spending time locked up inside the house forces people to overthink more often, to the point they begin losing hope. This is when we realise how being hopeful has been keeping us from falling off the deep end. When people keep following a thought process that generates adverse outcomes, they begin to think if a positive consequence will ever be possible.
Once that hope is out the window, people lose the motivation that kept them going. Psychologists believe as humans, we use hope to fuel optimism and willpower. If we are hopeful, we are determined, and we don’t mind crossing hell and back to achieve a goal. When we’re accomplishing things, even if they’re small goals, we are rewarding ourselves with a sense of fulfilment and setting up the mental headspace to keep going. Success helps us feel more in control of a situation and allows us to be more relaxed as we plan. But, if you take hope out of the equation, you stand at square one where success seems like a far-fetched idea you do not have the will to test out.
How can you keep building hope?
It’s pretty clear by now that an individual’s mental wellbeing is mainly dependent on hope. It is the pillar on which the foundations of our mental fortitude stand. When you feel like you’re running out of hope and things seem more significant than you can stand to handle, take a minute to breathe and organise.
Divide your task into smaller steps and focus on the nearest possible thing. Imagine yourself overcoming this obstacle and then ask yourself, how did I do it? The answer won’t come quickly, but it’ll be there. Once you realise that this task, even as it seems larger than life, is, in fact, doable, the hope will come quickly.
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