December 30, 2021
Writers: Jerwin Regala, Pamela Ma
Editor: K Ballesteros
Researchers: Marian Lorrice Apostol, Jerwin Regala
Graphics: Jacklyn Moral
Every time a new year comes, there’s one thing that all people must have: that is hope! Accompanied by a new year’s resolution, we usually set hopes for the following year. Hope that next year will be a year of healing, success, growth, improvement. These hopes give us the feeling of fulfillment.
We cannot deny that some of us are having a difficult moment in finding hope. 2021 has been a tough year because of the still prevailing pandemic, but with hope, our current struggles and challenges become easier to bear because it gives us the vision that things will get better in the future. 2022 is now on the other side, presenting itself as a clean slate, how can we reawaken our hope for next year?
Denotatively, hope is something good that one wants to happen in the future. It is the confidence about what will happen in the future. When we know the uncertainty of the future, but we want it to happen, that is hope. Hope is an essential element of our human experience and is as essential to the maintenance of our mental well-being as food and water are for our physical survival .
In the spiritual context, hope might mean believing good things will happen because of our faith in a higher power . For instance, in Catholic tradition, hope is one of the virtues described as an unshakable trust and assurance that the promises of God will be fulfilled . Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches that hope is the path towards liberation from suffering . American Psychologist Charles Snyder defined hope as a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy) and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals) . Hope is an aspiration for things to change for the better, and to desire a better situation very much. Having hope is important to the very act of being a human being. As Dr. Judith Rich writes, hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out .
2021 by Far: Hope Amidst Crises in 2022
2021 has been a tough year primarily because of the prevailing pandemic that has affected our health for more than a year. And it’s difficult to set hopes for the succeeding year if we still have to battle COVID-19 in its third year.
For more than a year, the pandemic has affected not just our physical health but also our mental health. According to the Department of Health (DOH), at least 3.6 million Filipinos battled with mental health issues as the country grappled with the pandemic . Depression, alcohol-use disorders, and bipolar disorder are among the top three issues faced by Filipinos . It induced a degree of worry and fear among us, as affirmed by Frances Cuevas, DOH’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau . Facing the Delta variant has brought us back inside our homes. Lockdown and strict quarantine protocols were again mandated in April due to the spread of the said variant, making the Philippines the country with the longest COVID-19 lockdown.
We pinned our hope on the rollout of vaccines. The first batch of Sinovac vaccines arrived in the country on February 28. The first doses were administered locally in the Philippine General Hospital on March 1 . By the end of the year, the country aims to vaccinate 58 million people . In 2022, we hope to see a fully-vaccinated Philippines: a mask-free society where no distancing measures are mandated and no fear lingers within us whenever we want to go outside our homes.
Problematic pandemic handling of the National government became also a hot topic in 2021. The country failed to strengthen systems during the longest lockdown without flattening the COVID-19 curve . The pandemic caused widespread job loss because of closed workplaces, rising hunger, and school closures. Remember when #LigtasBalikEskwela became a trending issue? As 2022 approaches, we project our frustrations with our incumbent government to the National Election which shall happen in that year. We hope for better leaders who will make the Philippines a better country after experiencing tough years from the pandemic; a leader who can uphold the country’s democracy and the welfare of Filipinos.
It was also heartbreaking to see Filipinos losing lives and properties this Christmas season. The December 16 SuperTyphoon Odette struck the country with a catastrophic impact and left 385,374 people displaced or homeless. The typhoon either damaged or destroyed 10,856 in three areas . The latest report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that the number of individuals who died due to the supertyphoon has gone up to 378 . What became our hope was the many relief operations that were initiated in order to help those who are affected.
With these situations, it is undeniable that some of us might have a difficult moment in finding hope. Reawakening it would help us in envisioning a better future that will make challenges and struggles easier to bear.
Hopeful Well-Being: how hope affects our mental well-being
Studies show that having hope for the future helps build our resilience—the ability to get through tough times and recover more quickly from setbacks . According to the “hope theory” formulated by positive psychologist Charles Snyder and his colleagues, hope gives people the will, determination, and sense of empowerment that allows them to reach their goals. A large body of research on hope demonstrates its power to support well-being, even more so than optimism or self-efficacy (our belief in our own abilities) . Hope is positively correlated with life satisfaction and serves as a buffer against the impact of negative and stressful life events . Thus, individuals high in hope tend to show better athletic, academic, occupational, and health outcomes.
In a research conducted by Stephanie Griggs with 20 students who suffered from depression, anxiety, and distress, she concluded five roles that hope played in the young people’s mental health :
- Hope is associated with improved coping
- Improved well-being is also associated with hope
- Depression and negative life events are less intense for those who are more hopeful
- Having hope is a protective factor against suicide and negative, self-deprecatory thinking
- A hopeful person is more likely to engage in healthy behaviors.
Hope is also an essential element in the process of healing as proven by a recent research led by Matthew Gallagher. The study concluded that hope was a common element and a strong predictor of recovery. Hope helps moderate the impact of trauma and is associated with post-traumatic growth .
In summary, hope and mental well-being are inseparable and we can strengthen both by taking little, daily, or at least regular actions that will help us grow even amidst uncertainty.
An article in New Port Academy suggested five powerful, evidence-based practices that can help in cultivating hope which in turn can support our mental well-being . The suggestions are as follows:
- Focus on your strengths. Tapping into our natural strengths cultivates a sense of hope and resilience. For example, if you’re naturally creative, think about how you can use that strength to overcome difficulties as you move forward in life. Remembering and using our personal strengths creates confidence that we can get through whatever comes our way.
- Practice gratitude. Research on gratitude shows that it is more effective than self-control, patience, or forgivingness in creating hope for the future. Try keeping a gratitude journal in which you list big and small things you’re grateful for each day. Or, at the end of every day, think back on three things you were grateful for.
- Reframe negative thoughts. When you feel afraid or hopeless, try zeroing in on what’s scaring you and looking at it in a different way. For example, if you’re thinking, “I’ll never be able to go to college or get a job during a pandemic,” you could shift that to “It might be more difficult to go to college or get a job right now, so I’ll need to use my strengths to work toward overcoming those difficulties.” Or you might shift the thought “I’m never going to stop feeling anxious about everything that’s going on” to “It’s natural to be anxious right now, and there are things I can do to make it better.”
- Limit media exposure. Both news coverage and social media can have negative effects on hope and mental health. News tends to focus on the most frightening and sensational aspects of what’s happening, and it can make us more vulnerable to vicarious trauma. Social media can help young people feel more connected, but it can also increase feelings of anxiety and distress.
- Spend time with hopeful, optimistic people. According to the science of “emotional contagion,” when you surround yourself with people who are hopeful and positive, you’re more likely to feel that way yourself. Research shows that we can “catch” both positive and negative emotions from others, so choose your friends wisely.
As we are about to unfold a new chapter of our lives this 2022, let our New Year’s Resolution be like Goran Persson’s: “We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word”. Your #UsapKada and the #MentalHealthPH family are here to be representatives of hope sending the message of love and empathy to those who are hopeless or who find it difficult to find hope.
- How do you define hope?
- What are you hoping for in 2022? What are your hopes for yourself, for others, for the country?
- How do these hopes affect your life perspectives? How do they drive you?
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