There are so many difficult things going on in the world at the moment. Add to that general life stresses, and it can be hard to have hope that things are going to get better. Let's spend this week thinking about how we can change that.
People who know me well know that I'm quite politically minded. I work for the NHS and I passionately believe in it as a service, and will vote to protect it and keep it working for people, not corporations. I believe that everyone should have the same rights and that nobody should be discriminated against because of things like skin colour, gender, sexuality or level of disability, and I will vote to try to ensure that people are protected. I will vote to try to make sure that vulnerable people in our society don't lose out just because they're having a hard time, and I make no secret of my views.
Whatever your political persuasion, lots of people are having a tough time at the moment believing in the ability of politicians to effect change for the better. We're becoming more fractured as a society, and more resolute in our opinions. That often means that people are being left behind and forgotten, and that things like abusing people in the street are on the increase. Ideally I'd like it to stop, but I think we're too far gone for that to change right now. When people feel hopeless, eventually they learn to live with it - they stop believing that things can be better, and accept the terrible conditions that they have become accustomed to. Whilst I don't think that things will change overnight, I don't believe that we should give up hope completely and just accept our lot. We can definitely do better than that.
It's important to remember that when we're hoping for change, voting is only one part of the picture. Many people are too demoralised to vote right now, and I understand completely - and I'm not suggesting that the things I'm going to talk about in this blog post are the only things you can do, or that there's something wrong with you if you're not trying to be hopeful. But to try to regain just a little bit of hope, so that the days don't feel quite so dark, there are a few different things you can try.
As usual, looking after yourself is top priority. It's really hard to look after other people if you aren't on top of your game - keeping hydrated, eating what you can to nourish yourself, and trying to get some sleep are all important things to do. If you've been reading my blog for a while I know that I'm preaching to the choir, but I'm always going to prioritise basic activities of daily living that impair your functioning if you don't do them. Hopefully, it's an easy win.
From there, it really depends on your resources. If you're low on time, money or energy, it can be hard to think about things you can do to give you some hope back, but that doesn't mean that you can't change the world in small ways. There are loads of random acts of kindness that you can do for others (or for yourself) to make others feel cared for and noticed, and therefore giving them, and you, some hope for the future. Social media can be great for signal-boosting good causes for people with more resources to donate to - but beware of spending too much time doing things like reading and re-reading the news stories of the day, which can make you feel worse sometimes. You might not be able to avoid the news completely (especially if there are articles and stories that are important to you) but keeping it to a set amount of time every day can stop you from feeling quite as helpless.
If you have a few more resources, consider the following:
I believe that hope is possible, but I'm also aware that lots of people don't have much to be hopeful for at the moment. Ultimately, remembering the good things about your local community, and working together to make that community a place that you want to live in, is the best way to start to rebuild some of the hope and trust that we all desperately need at the moment.
Dr Sarah Blackshaw: Clinical Psychologist, blogger, tea drinker, interested in dinosaurs and shiny objects