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How to Be More Optimistic: Maintaining Hope in a Mad World

A woman looking down, seeming stressed

It’s World Mental Health Day 2023 and while there has been a much-needed increase in mental health awareness, there’s been an increase in the prevalence of mental health problems. Why?

One’s mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum – trends occur depending on what’s happening in the world. Between the cost-of-living crisis, the loneliness crisis, the pandemic crisis, and other global crises, how is anyone even still sane in this mad world?

The constant experience of these things or even just the awareness of them can impact one’s ability to hope. Hope is a necessary function of one’s optimism and motivation – things that keep us balanced and away from depression. While crises are inevitable, it is important that the ability to see a favourable outcome remains intact so we keep a clear head and persevere.

Social media was initially marketed to be a form of escape from the gloomy world and a space to connect with others. Now it is increasingly becoming a source of anxiety and isolation. Doom-scrolling is the new word for the act of scrolling endlessly on social media – and it is what social media companies want you to do, so they make it addictive as possible. This over-exposure to everything wrong in the world can make it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially if you are currently experiencing hard times of your own.

This bombardment of unpleasant information paired with different negative life experiences can shift one’s perspective for the worse. Thoughts like “what’s the point?” can become more prominent and a habit can be formed that discredits the positive.

Here are 5 things you can do to restore optimism:

  1. Practice meditation – meditation builds the skill of not identifying with our negative thoughts.

  2. Notice the good things that are happening around you - it may be hard to believe but not everything is terrible. Gratitude exercises and intentionally taking stock of the positive can train the mind to be more aware of positive things and maintain balance.

  3. Get a hobby – check out of the doom and gloom of the world and do something you enjoy. Hobbies generally increase life satisfaction.

  4. Talk to someone – a big symptom of depression is isolation and feeling like we cannot be understood. Expressing yourself to others can help you to feel understood and gain perspectives that you didn’t previously consider.

  5. Read – reading can help you to escape into a world different to what you know, relate to various characters and maintain focus of something intriguing to you!

It's important to acknowledge that it is okay to not be okay, and low feeling may be a direct and rational response to your experiences. If you, or anyone you know is struggling beyond the the relief that these options can offer, then it may be helpful to seek support.

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