How to cope when there's no hope
Updated: May 15, 2021
Last month on an Easter Sunday, I wrote an article titled a 'Message of Hope' as it seemed like we were slowly emerging from the darkness of the pandemic into a new hopeful and prepared world. Vaccination campaigns were active in many parts of the world and it looked like generally people had gotten educated and equipped with new habits such as wearing masks, keeping good hand hygiene, and avoiding crowds. Boy, I was so wrong!
The world was shaken by the upheaval of cases in India, traumatic stories of lives lost, families in distress watching their loved ones dying to breathe, unpreparedness of hospitals, financial fraud and distress, and worst of all, politics and washing of dirty linen in public by media internally and globally.
There was anger, blame, fear, despair, helplessness and lack of trust as the governance and healthcare system collapsed, leaving absolutely no space for hope. All Indians, whether living in India or not, have been facing the brunt of the situation in some way or the other.
'Loss' has been the common theme, although there's no bigger loss than loss of a life, there has been loss in many other forms such as loss of means to a meal, loss of jobs, finances, health, motivation and hope.
I found myself exceptionally tired in the last three weeks. Everyone I was speaking to said the same. Hearing heavily biased and misconstrued news, people following blind faith and politics over and above science, concern for extended family and friends in India, figuring out how to best support India and people who have had losses, not knowing how to console people during such a dark distressing phase, and having to carry on with the routine- work, home front, kids school etc was all quite taxing.
I realized that it's tiring to move along a path with no hope. So I had to change my habits, views and thinking. Sharing below what's helping me cope when there's no hope. Hope you will add on to this piece through the comments section.
1) Focus on what's within own control: What's really within my control in this situation? When I asked myself this question, I could nail down a few things such as making donations, reaching out to friends and family regularly, supporting people who reached out for help, sharing vetted, trusted resources for COVID support, educating people about the importance of staying home and following all the hygience practices thoroughly etc. Doing these things gave me some motivation to move on with life. What did not help me was participating in discussions and debates on who was at fault as it only left me feeling angry and helpless.
I resonate with the quote' Be the change you want to see in the world' and therefore I moved on doing what I can, rather than getting on with blame games on things that are beyond my control right now.
2) Be aware that we are together in this: We need to remember that this is a "World vs COVID" war! The virus is an acid test for our unity as it is clearly causing rifts and splits. We need to be aware of this. It is NOT a people vs government war or country vs country war. From a scientific and healthcare stand point, there needs to be global policies rather than only country specific because it is clear that even if countries individually manage to come out of it, it wouldn't be a sustainable success, when some other countries lag behind.
So let's stop bashing each other, and come out of racist, religious, and political prejudices and biases to stand together as one human race against the multiple virus strains!!
3) Let each one of us take one step to fight the pandemic and the infodemic: How wonderful it would be if each person took the responsibility and care for themselves and others! How so idealistic is this thought, right? I know! But every small step, every drop counts. Just as the virus is capable of spreading to multiple people quickly at a time, can we not get infectious about best practices to curb the spread of the virus and instead spread positivity and good vibes? Again let the change begin with each one of us!
4) Try to see things in a different light: When there's no hope, and when all looks dark and grim, the only way to move forward is to literally search for that needle of 'optimism' through the haystack. Is there one thing we could still be grateful for? And when you find it, hold on to it! Also talk about what you are feeling to someone. Whether it is sadness, heaviness, anger or frustration, identify it and spell it out.
Accept your emotions and feelings, and express rather than suppress.
5) Find time for taking care of self: Whether it is work or home, this may not be the best time to take on too much. People, especially women, have been struggling to keep pace with the multiple responsibilities enthrusted by the COVID situation. Most people say, they have no choice but to do it. I hear my coachees often say, I need to do this else, he/she/my boss/spouse/in-laws/kids would be unhappy with them. Is that really true? or is that something you believe? or if it is true, then how good is that relationship? What if you chose to take rest? What difference would it make to you vs others?
I urge everyone to take a look at your current situations and identify time for rest/exercise/ meditation/hobbies etc as it is more important now than ever for to achieve and sustain good physical and mental health.
I am aware that what I have written here may not be relatable to many, especially people going through deep losses. I sincerely pray that you get the strength to move on and that the world emerges out of this stronger together.
I am curious about life and passionate about making our world a better place to live.
I am a professional coach, speaker and trainer with 20 years of experience in science. To learn more, please visit https://www.drlakshmispeaks.com/
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