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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ng

How we can keep going in times of adversity and despair: Tips and art prompt for hope and solidarity

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

How we can keep going in times of adversity and despair:  Tips and art prompt for  hope and solidarity
How we can keep going in times of adversity and despair: Tips and art prompt for hope and solidarity

Oftentimes, we fall into despair when there is a lack of hope present, when we continuously struggle to effect change in situations that are out of our control. We may notice feelings of loss, loneliness, anxiety, frustration, anger, unjust, as well as sensations of heaviness, restlessness, tiredness, unease, and increased activation in our bodies.

What could happen when we are in a prolonged state of distress? Probably significantly lowered levels of energy and motivation, the ability to care for yourself in everyday life and plan ahead, spending less time with close friends and loved ones, and decreased capability to experience joy… the list goes on :(

So how can we keep going when there is little strength to do so?

Well, you can try recalling what are sources of motivation to you. We usually have strong beliefs in ideals and we can:

List of things to keep believing in
List of things to believe in to create strength and hope

Why does that work? That’s because there is collective strength and power in gathering our internal resources and qualities that are in all of us, such as

  • Kindness

  • Altruism

  • Fairness

  • Vision

  • Integrity

We are drawn to a desire for change when we have been hurt, when we have knowledge of positive outcomes and their effects, when we know what we deserve, and when we have been treated better.

Know that you are not alone in these thoughts of feelings of despair when faced with adversities or struggles. When you perceive there are others like you, with the same beliefs and desire for things to be different, you feel more empowered.

Knowing that standing together, in solidarity, in believing in the cause … creates hope, movement for action, and shifts your perception and belief that it is possible.

And that is how we can keep going in times of despair.

(Keep scrolling for an art prompt by a Professional Art Therapist!)

Old school torn notebook page with doodles and text
Art prompt to increase emotional awareness and create a shift in thinking

Art Prompt

Part I

  1. Start with a body scan, and notice sensations and emotions that are surfacing when you have a situation or internal struggle in mind.

  2. List them down, noticing the order of what is coming up and what feels bigger/smaller in scale.

  3. For each word/phrase listed, use shape, form or colour to represent each one visually or metaphorically on a piece of paper. (There is no right or wrong, it doesn’t even have to make sense to you.) Do this one by one and check off the list

  4. When you have finished, take a moment to just notice how each separate shape/form/colour may be similar, different, or overlapping. Look for patterns and themes.

  5. Then you can decide what you want to do with the paper. You may wish to rip it up, burn it (safely!), scribble all over it. Take your time and do that.

Part II

  1. Now return to your list and next to each word/phrase, write down what is the opposite or what it may be lacking and is needing.

  2. Take some time to conjure what it feels like to have what you have noted in this second list.

  3. Imagine or recall a time/memory/situation/person, etc., that comes to mind either by association or desire for each item on your second list. It might be easier to do this with the next step one by one.

  4. Put what came up onto paper in shape, form or colour and create this new collective piece.

  5. Reflect and journal about it. Share your experience/art/takeaway with someone who might understand and feel the same way.

Written and created by:

Stephanie Ng


Professional Art Therapist

Follow on Instagram: @art.therapy.heartspace

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