- 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. 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.
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.
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: “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.