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The Importance Of Hope During The Pandemic

The Importance of Hope During The Pandemic

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Recent announcements on a potential vaccine for COVID-19 provides a reason for hope at a difficult time. Being able to hold onto that hope will be vital to maintaining your wellbeing over the coming months.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hope can have a significant impact on your mental and physical wellbeing
  2. Individuals who are more hopeful tend to have fewer chronic health problems and less depression and anxiety
  3. You can take simple steps to build and sustain hope, even through difficult times

One day it is good news about a potential vaccine and the next it is new restrictions in place. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and the next few months are not going to get any easier. With further challenges ahead, now is the time to focus on hope.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the situation and begin to lose hope, but research shows that cultivating hope in difficult situations can be very powerful. This doesn’t just mean simply thinking positively and hoping for the best. Hope is about having the motivation to move towards your goal even if you are not assured a positive outcome is coming.

The Benefits of Hope

Hope has a positive impact on both your physical and mental health.

Research has found that more hopeful individuals report higher levels of positive emotions, a stronger sense of purpose and lower levels of depression and loneliness. Hope is a valuable tool in protecting yourself from stress and burnout and can also have benefits for your physical health as it can make you more likely to exercise.

A Harvard University study found that those with more hope throughout there lives had better physical health, better health behaviours, better social support and a longer life. It also led to less depression and anxiety, fewer chronic health problems and a lower risk of cancer.

How To Build Hope

There are many ways you can sustain hope in difficult situations. It is important to remember that no matter how bad a situation looks; the reality is that there is always hope. Building hope can start by taking small steps and don’t be afraid to speak to others to help you find a solution.

Reframe Your Thoughts
If you are feeling hopeless then try and focus on what it is that’s scaring you and try to look at it in a different way. You might be feeling “There is so much going on in the world right now that I am never going to stop feeling anxious” but you could shift this to “It is understandable to feel anxious right now and there are things I can do to make it better”.

Be Grateful
Evidence shows that gratitude is more effective than self-control, patience or forgiveness in creating hope for the future. Perhaps you could keep a journal where you could track the things you are grateful for each day.

Be Around Positive People
When you surround yourself with people who are positive and hopeful you are more likely to feel that way yourself. Research of this emotional contagion shows that we can catch positive and negative emotions from others so try and surround yourself with the right people.

Take A News Break
Social media and news coverage can have a negative impact on your hope and mental health. Limit your media exposure to reduce feelings of anxiety and distress.

Hope might seem inconsequential at a time with so much happening in the world but taking small steps to a more hopeful outlook can lead to a number of benefits that can make you happier and healthier.

References

Long, Katelyn NG, et al. “The role of Hope in subsequent health and well-being for older adults: An outcome-wide longitudinal approach.” Global Epidemiology (2020): 100018.

Anderson, Craig L., and David B. Feldman. “Hope and Physical Exercise: The Contributions of Hope, Self-Efficacy, and Optimism in Accounting for Variance in Exercise Frequency.” Psychological reports 123.4 (2020): 1145-1159.

Long, Katelyn NG, et al. “The role of Hope in subsequent health and well-being for older adults: An outcome-wide longitudinal approach.” Global Epidemiology (2020): 100018.

Griggs, Stephanie. “Hope and mental health in young adult college students: an integrative review.” Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services 55.2 (2017): 28-35.

Witvliet, Charlotte vanOyen, et al. “Gratitude predicts hope and happiness: A two-study assessment of traits and states.” The Journal of Positive Psychology 14.3 (2019): 271-282.

Viner, Russell M., et al. “Roles of cyberbullying, sleep, and physical activity in mediating the effects of social media use on mental health and wellbeing among young people in England: a secondary analysis of longitudinal data.” The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health 3.10 (2019): 685-696.

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