Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended to substitute for individualized medical treatment. If you feel chronically hopeless or have other symptoms of medical depression, see a doctor.
What Is Your Brain Wired For?
Staying consistently cheerful can be hard work. For someone with PTSD, anxiety disorder, or a neurodivergent condition, it may be literally impossible. Someone on the autism spectrum, for instance, may have innate anxiety tendencies—or ongoing frustration over being misunderstood and unable to communicate.
But even where lightheartedness is impossible, there are better alternatives than hopelessness. Most people can develop habits of contentment, satisfaction, and persistence. The first step may be as simple as finding assistive technology for your condition: our BridgingApps Search Tool and lists database are full of recommendations.
Taking Control of Your Self-Care
For almost everyone, the “victim mentality” which feeds hopelessness can be countered by taking some control of life. No one can control all their circumstances, and controlling your own attitude may be overwhelming; so try starting with a simple health habit. Eating well, finding an exercise you enjoy, getting enough sleep, practicing prayer/meditation, and doing things “just for fun” all help replenish your energy and attitude for moving forward.
“We’ve shared Plum Village: Zen Meditation with our recenter clients,” says Alejandra Gonzalez, BridgingApps Digital Navigator and technology coach. “It was a total hit! They love pairing meditation with the yoga they do in rec therapy.” Some other self-care apps:
- Autism: Apps for Calming & Self-Regulation
- HOLD–Stress Help & Self-Care
- Mend: Self Care for Breakups
- MyFitnessPal: Calorie Counter
- MyPlate Calorie Counter
- The Tapping Solution
Taking Control of Your Schedule
The second most controllable thing in your life is probably a to-do list or daily routine. Again, think “simple” and start with the easiest changes—like staying on track with something you’ve already begun.
“We’ve taught our recenter clients to set reminders on their Veterans Administration iPads with the built-in Reminders app,” says Alejandra Gonzalez, ensuring that priority items aren’t forgotten. Other popular life-organizing apps include:
Work on Your Thinking Habits
Eventually, you probably will have to take more control of your attitude. Like it or not, you can’t keep hope in your life without accepting that you won’t always get everything you want, disappointments do happen, and sometimes life does hurt.
You’ve probably heard “positive thinking” recommended for improving not only attitude, but the rest of life. And in many cases, it does help. However, it can easily turn into burnout if your brain isn’t already predisposed toward the positive; plus, it may give you false guilt if you don’t get “results” and blame yourself for not thinking “positive enough.”
If you need a real change in thinking habits, a better option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—professional help learning more realistic and less negative thought patterns. Unlike many “positive thinking” approaches, CBT doesn’t sugarcoat or deny painful emotions: it helps you accept them and move past them, understanding that pain is real, but not the whole of life.
Some CBT apps:
(See also: Easter Seals Greater Houston, Mental Health Services.)
Finally, remember that assistive technology and professional help are nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone needs human and other support to navigate life successfully. You have every right to find the approach that suits you—and to use it with pride.