Information and events Mental Health Support Looking after your mental health Why is hope important? Download our factsheet You may hear people talk about holding onto hope and that can mean different things for each and every one of us. Hope can be a desire for something to happen, a wish for things to change for the better or a particular dream or aspiration. It is important for us to have hope in our lives, important for us to look positively into our future and is a major protective factor in helping us tackle potentially dangerous ideation or intrusive thoughts. Hope is also a very personal thing and it is important that you do not measure your goals influenced by others. Your aspirations are personal and important to you. Why is hope important? Hope reduces feelings of helplessness, increases happiness, reduces stress, and improves our quality of life. Let’s look at both positive and negative aspects of hope to gain an understanding as to how it impacts a person’s thinking, feelings and behaviours by looking at the relevant scenario below: Hopeless Hopeful Thinking Thinking I can’t copeI don’t see a way outI’m so upset with everything I need help with thisWe can get through thisThis is a setback but we can adjust Feelings Feelings FrightenedWorriedHopeless Anxious (normal response)DeterminedHopeful Behaviour Behaviour Stay in bedHave arguments with loved onesIsolate and withdraw Reach out for helpSupport loved onesKeep in contact with others Hopelessness is a feeling that things will not and cannot change and creates a sense that there is no solution to a problem, which can be an increase to the risk of suicide. Whilst hopelessness is not a sole cause of suicide, having hope in our lives can significantly reduce the risk. Hope is an incredible strength and protective factor in our lives. There maybe times you are challenged with believing there is hope. Try not to be hard on yourself, this is normal. Self Help Tips to improve your mood Attend local support groups Counselling – this doesn’t always have to be through your GP Use helplines for support Be mindful of what you eat as this can help lift your mood Exercise – this doesn’t have to be at the gym – try walking, doing housework faster, or going up and down the stairs. As long as you are realistic about your goals and abilities. Practice mindfulness – you can download apps Headspace, Calm Practice getting into a routine again Stay connected with others Helping others can really benefit our recovery – check out the Gratitude factsheet Get new skills – keeps the mind active Practice breathing – the Headspace and Calm app can help you do this. Library – self-help books, including the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Recovery Colleges NI – each trust area has a recovery college, check out the details on the website. You can attend groups to help with learning and overcoming your illness, or learning how to live a better quality of life even whilst being diagnosed with an illness such as depression. Positive Impacts of Hope... Gives you a reason to get out of bed every day Improves mental wellbeing Benefits your physical body Helps with the immune system as it reducesyour levels of stress Increases self-worth, self-belief and your confidence Encourages you to take positive action Encourages you to surround yourself with like-minded people Reduces sadness and anxiety Creates opportunities Sometimes we need help to see things in a different way, sometimes we need to change parts of our lives, whatever it may be. There is support out there to help you find the strength to believe that hope is a possibility and it can help us change the way that we live. Finding a service for you You can locate details of the Extern's mental health services which may be near you here.