If you're feeling discouraged about the stock market right now, you're not alone. It's been a hard year for investors, with the S&P 500, the Nasdaq, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average all dipping into bear market territory.

Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly how long this slump will last. However, a bull market is coming eventually.

Exactly when that will happen is anyone's guess. But right now is the best time to start preparing. By taking certain steps now, you can potentially make a lot of money. Here's how.

Bear and bull figurines facing each other.

Image source: Getty Images.

Is a bull market coming in 2023?

The stock market's performance is impossible to predict in the short term, so even the experts can't guarantee what will happen over the next year. That said, the S&P 500 has a long track record of turning bear markets into bull markets. It's almost 100% certain, then, that an upswing is on the horizon.

Historically, the average S&P 500 bear market has lasted around 343 days, or just under a year. Sometimes, they can last longer -- the dot-com bubble burst holds the record for the longest bear market, at 929 days -- but few have gone longer than 18 months.

This year, the S&P 500 officially entered a bear market in June, or around 192 days ago, as of this writing. While it may not seem like the best time to invest, now is the time to get ready for the upcoming bull market.

A once-in-a-decade investing opportunity

One of the best ways to make money in the stock market is to invest during the market's low points, then simply wait for prices to recover. Right now, stock prices are lower than they've been in years.

Amazon, for instance, is down more than 50% from its peak. Apple and Microsoft are both down roughly 30% from their highs, and Alphabet has dropped by nearly 40%.

Some stocks haven't seen these kinds of slumps since the Great Recession. And once the market recovers, it could be years before you can buy stocks at these discounts again. If you've been on the fence, now may be the time to snag high-priced stocks for a fraction of the cost.

Making the most of an upswing

Buying stocks during a bear market is only half of the equation. To take full advantage of the upcoming bull market, you'll need to hold those investments until the market recovers.

Again, when that will occur is unclear right now, but it will likely happen within the next year or two. By riding out the storm, you could potentially make a lot of money.

For example, say you had invested in Amazon in 2008 -- at the height of the Great Recession. If you simply held your investments for five years, you'd have seen returns of more than 900%.

AMZN Chart

AMZN data by YCharts.

In other words, if you had invested $1,000 in Amazon in 2008, you'd have accumulated roughly $10,350 within five years.

Of course, there are no guarantees that Amazon -- or any stock -- will see these types of returns during the next bull market. But by investing when stocks are at rock bottom and simply holding them through the recovery period, you're far more likely to make money.

While it may not seem like it, market slumps can be fantastic buying opportunities. A bull market is coming at some point, and by investing now, you'll be well prepared to take advantage of the upswing -- and potentially make a lot of money.