Can Hope Save Lives?
Off the back of some of the most challenging and difficult years in living memory, The Stress Management Society launches a pioneering campaign to offer a chink of light to those that find themselves consumed by darkness. Sadly too many are succumbing to that darkness.
We have launched the #ChooseHope campaign to increase online positivity, share stories to inspire hope and encourage public awareness of how we can support each other to build resilience in these uncertain times.
We have recently had a big emphasis on the importance of community and our need to experience a sense of belonging. Being socially engaged and participating in social activities, interacting with others and positive social exchange give rise to feelings of acceptance, connection and support that are crucial to our overall wellbeing.
Unsurprisingly, individuals who contemplate taking their own lives experience feelings of isolation and hopelessness, both of which are major risk factors for suicide. Suicide is a tragedy, but, as the organisations which offer support show, there is always hope. Consequently, World Suicide Prevention Day will be the first focus of this campaign. Particularly as our founder and Chief De-Stressing Officer, Neil Shah recently lost one of his best friends to mental health, which in turn became the inspiration behind this campaign.
Why Choose Hope?
None of us are immune to the stresses and demands of the challenging world we find ourselves living in, yet if we have hope it’s easier to find a way to navigate the most turbulent of seas and to find a way forward. If we allow hopelessness and fear to dominate our internal narrative instead of hope, we have nothing left to hold onto or a light at the end of the tunnel to aim for; we become easily overwhelmed, struggle to see a way out of our troubles and tragically many give up.
Is it the failing of the individual or a society that is constantly reminding us of the problems and challenges we face? We need to be better at offering a balanced narrative. The world isn’t as bad as the press and social media would lead us to believe. We just fail to share enough stories of people doing incredible things for their fellow men and women and offer examples of love, compassion, and empathy. By being exposed to more of these stories we can offer people hope that things can get better and offer an alternative perspective to that which seems to be emanating from most media channels.
Having hope may not change what happens in each set of circumstances, however, it can give us the ability to navigate and cope better. If we can see even the faintest glimmer of hope in our darkest moments, it gives us something to aim for and head towards.
Science behind hope
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 wellbeing, even more so than optimism or self-efficacy (our belief in our own abilities).
The impact of hope on our social, mental, and physical well-being is widely documented. Positively correlated with higher satisfaction rates, the consensus is that hope serves as a buffer against negative and stressful life events.
But a survey of existing research on hope suggests that it serves as more than a buffer. Research over the past decade and more shows that hopeful people:
- Are more likely to attain their goals
- Do better academically
- Experience higher life satisfaction
- Have a stronger sense of meaning and purpose
- Choose healthier lifestyle habits, and therefore live longer
- Cope with and recover better from illness
Unlike optimism, hope is an active and effortful force requiring courage and perseverance. Hope urges persistent goal seeking through the process of trial and error; hopeful people utilise multiple goal paths, increasing resilience against failure. The Stress Management Society’s #ChooseHope campaign intends to flood social media with the message of hope and positivity to counteract the pessimism of modern society.
As hopefulness is biased by cultural perceptions of social mobility and can be hindered by experiences of discrimination a counter-narrative of hope may improve public health. As hope reduces our tendency to catastrophise scenarios, those exhibiting higher hopefulness display higher resilience to both physically and psychologically painful experiences. As hope alters our perception of the world around us, a hopeful society equates to a healthy society.
Benefits of hope
- Hope is a proven protective factor against the development of mood disorders and is predictive of positive physical health.
- Increased hope is associated with increased psychological and social well-being, as well as improved sleep quality and physical health.
- Hope is found to negatively correlate with depression, anxiety, and symptoms of psychological distress.
- Hope promotes positive lifestyle choices and reduces mortality.
- In older populations, greater hope is linked to better health outcomes such as a reduced risk of chronic conditions and cancer.
- Hope increases resilience to uncertainty. Consequently, hopefulness in patients is predictive of successful cancer remission and surgery recovery, as well as reduced relapse of depressive symptoms.
- Hope is associated with biological health markers such as greater immune system responsiveness, cardiovascular function, and normal cortisol levels.
Neil Shah, the founder, and Director of The Stress Management Society has created this campaign following his own personal battle with suicide and losing his best friend to suicide six months ago.
“In 2003 I lost all hope, I had navigated an experience that resulted in losing my business, my money, all of the people that I considered to be my closest friends, my car was repossessed and the person I was in a relationship was cheating on me. As a direct result, I experienced a breakdown, and in the depths of my darkness, I decided I was done with this life and attempted to check out. Thankfully, I failed in my attempt and eventually found a chink of light in my experience – that I could use my experience to help others who find themselves in a similar situation. This is why I set up The Stress Management Society, and it’s incredible to think we have reached 100’s millions of people with our campaigns, programmes, and events over the last 2 decades. If I hadn’t found a ray of hope none of this would have happened.
6 months ago one of my best friends sadly lost all hope and chose to end his life. It’s in my attempt to reconcile this tragic loss that I was inspired to create this campaign – I can’t hear any more stories of people whose lives have been needlessly lost. We need to stop burying people and start taking action – let’s not wait for someone else to fix this, we have a collective responsibility, we are the answer, so let’s #ChooseHope!”
We invite you to get involved and help us raise mental health awareness with our #choosehope campaign by sharing your positive stories! The campaign intends to offer a counter-narrative to the doom and gloom that emanate from the vast majority of Mainstream News and Social Media Channels. We would love to hear your stories and spread positivity! Share stories, pictures, and videos tag your friends and family and encourage them to do the same.
The hashtags are: #ChooseHope #TheStressManagementSociety
Please use them as often as you can!
We have also created social media kit you are welcome to download and share!
If you would like to help us promote within your network, want to know more about media opportunities or press opportunities with Neil Shah, please contact our Chief Magic Officer – Anja Predojevic at firstname.lastname@example.org
Neil Shah is the founder of International Wellbeing Insights and Chief De-Stressing Officer of The Stress Management Society. An engaging and inspiring motivational speaker and success coach, he has extensive expertise in driving and creating positive societal and organisational change, as well as proven practical strategies to promote happiness and wellbeing. Author of many best-selling books including ‘The 10-Step Stress Solution’.
#choosehope social media kit
Click below to download LinkedIn Banner
Click below to download Choose Hope Logo with White Background
Click below to download #ChooseHope Press Release
Click below to download Twitter Header
Click below to download Choose Hope Logo with Transparent Background
Click below to download Facebook Cover
Click below to download the Stress Management Society Logo
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