Psychologist Tips For Reclaiming Your Sparkle When You Feel Defeated

No matter who you are, everyone feels a little glum from time to time. Whether it's a bad day that turns into a bad week or the type of rut that lasts for months, it's normal to go through the occasional rough patch. Even the late Queen Elizabeth II referred to an entire 12-month period in 1992 as her "annus horribilis," or terrible year. Depression is on the rise, with a recent report from Gallup indicating that nearly 18% of American adults currently have it or are receiving treatment for it.

Yet life is filled with change and opportunity, and eventually, storm clouds can start to lift. Even if circumstances haven't fully improved, you may be hoping to kickstart the process. But after enduring a particularly tough time, it can be difficult to feel like yourself again. You might have all the tools at your disposal but find it difficult to wield them. Or, perhaps, you've picked up some bad habits or thinking traps that you're struggling to kick. To help you find your path, Glam spoke exclusively with Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based neuropsychologist and director of Comprehend the Mind. Using Dr Hafeez's guidance, we've developed a comprehensive guide to get your sparkle back once more.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Start by processing your feelings

While the thought of getting back into your old groove may seem like a mountainous effort, it starts with small, manageable steps. If you haven't already, it can be helpful to process your feelings before taking on ambitious tasks, says Dr. Sanam Hafeez. "It's okay to feel defeated and acknowledge your emotions. Ignoring or suppressing them can make it harder to move forward," she tells Glam exclusively. "Everyone, no matter how successful or intelligent, has felt periods of defeat even if they don't share them publicly."

It may not apply to everyone, but it can also be useful to examine the circumstances that led up to your difficult episode. "Identify any mistakes or factors that contributed to the situation. This reflection can help you learn and grow from the experience," Dr. Hafeez explains. Talking with a friend or therapist can help you unravel your thoughts and gain new insight.

Though you may experience persistent negative thoughts or feelings, Dr. Hafeez stresses the importance of self-compassion. "Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember that everyone faces setbacks and failures at some point," she says.

Visualization is key to moving forward

You can't expect any progress in life if you don't know what you're working toward. According to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, it's best to begin your transformation by setting concrete goals and re-examining things from there. Most of us have an idea of what we'd like to change in our lives but struggle with task execution. "Break down your goals into smaller, achievable steps. Setting small goals that you can accomplish relatively quickly can help build your confidence and motivation," she tells Glam in an exclusive chat. For instance, if you've been battling with a large project or obstacle, attack it piece by piece rather than aiming to get it all done in one day.

Next up, it's time to visualize a more positive present and future. Having gratitude is key to moving forward and inviting new, brighter energy into your life. "Shift your perspective towards the positive aspects of your situation. Even in challenging times, there are often valuable lessons, opportunities for growth, and small wins to celebrate," Dr. Hafeez explains. Through meditation, writing exercises, or other practices, you can visualize yourself achieving whatever it is that you desire. To keep your eyes on the prize, Dr. Hafeez has a simple suggestion: "Surround yourself with sources of inspiration. This could be through reading, watching, or listening to content that resonates with your goals and aspirations."

Remember to stop for breaks

All too often, we push ourselves to our limits and expect perfection — leaving us feeling exhausted and burnt out. Whether you've been putting in extra hours at work or at home, burnout can creep in faster than you realize. Thus, Dr. Sanam Hafeez emphasizes the importance of checking in with your support system. "Don't hesitate to talk to friends, family, or mentors about your feelings. They can offer encouragement, advice, and a fresh perspective on your situation," she tells Glam exclusively. By forging a better path, you may inspire your loved ones to tackle their goals, too.

Having supportive conversations is a big help, but you should also be dedicating some time to fun activities to offset all that hard work. You've put in an enormous amount of time and effort, and it's only right that you give yourself a pat on the back. Plus, Dr. Hafeez believes the occasional break from goal-crushing is necessary for your growth: "Sometimes, taking a step back and engaging in enjoyable activities can help recharge your energy and creativity."

Furthermore, don't be shy about how far you've come — it's okay to feel proud of your perseverance! "Acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest progress you make. This positive reinforcement can boost your confidence and motivation," Dr. Hafeez explains.

Spend time practicing self-care

In order to be the best version of yourself, you'll need to have a healthy foundation. "Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is crucial. Engage in activities that relax and rejuvenate you, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature," Dr. Sanam Hafeez explains. When you feel good about yourself, you'll become more motivated to keep up your healthy habits.

And if you find that you don't have enough time to exercise or meditate, get creative. You can use household objects as makeshift weights while you're chatting on the phone or even try an under-desk bike or elliptical while performing seated activities. Struggling to drink enough water? Try having tea, fruit-infused ice water, or using a motivational water bottle. Don't let negative thoughts get the best of you, and do whatever you can to support your overall well-being. Shaking up your daily routine may be just the thing you need to push you further along your journey. "Exploring new activities or approaches can reignite your curiosity and enthusiasm," Dr. Hafeez shares exclusively with Glam. "When you're motivated to learn new skills, overcome obstacles, and pursue your passions, you're more likely to evolve as an individual."

Make an effort to keep yourself motivated

Moving toward your best self can be a scary process, especially when things don't go according to plan. Roadblocks are bound to spring up, says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, but they should never deter you. "Remind yourself that setbacks are a temporary phase. Your current situation does not define your future," she tells Glam exclusively. If you've backtracked a little or encountered a frustrating obstacle, take a deep breath and remember that things happen. Simply acknowledge the issue, allow it to pass, and keep moving forward.

Feeling stuck or bored? That's perfectly understandable. However, it's crucial to check in with yourself to maintain your focus on your goals. "Reconnect with the reasons you started pursuing your goals in the first place. Reignite your passion and remind yourself of the deeper meaning behind your efforts," Dr Hafeez says. Journaling is an easy way to hold yourself accountable and reflect on your reasons for reclaiming your sparkle — plus, it's fun to look back on the progress you've made. Alternatively, you may find that speaking to others in similar situations helps you stay on track. Depending on your goals, you can join a community or group, online or in-person, to encourage you on your journey.

Trust the process and focus on your mindset

Keep in mind that every small step you take is one in the right direction, even if it doesn't always feel that way. "Remember that regaining your spark is a gradual process, and taking your time is okay," Dr. Sanam Hafeez reveals exclusively to Glam. So don't get discouraged or feel defeated by comparing yourself to others — your hard work will most certainly pay off in the long run. "Be patient with yourself, and don't be afraid to seek professional help if you're struggling to overcome feelings of defeat or lack of motivation," Dr. Hafeez explains. "If you feel the need to 'wallow' in self-pity, set a very short realistic time frame that you allow yourself to do so while not neglecting your physical or mental health."

Resilience is your best asset when it comes to achieving your goals. "The old adage follows of 'when you fall off the horse, get back up and ride again,'" Dr. Hafeez says. "When your mindset is positive and forward-thinking, you're more likely to see potential paths to success." Working toward improving your mindset is no easy feat, but you can expect to see numerous benefits from your undertaking.