Managing anxiety in times of crisis

Queues of cars have been causing traffic jams, waiting for an hour or more at a time outside petrol stations as fuel pumps run dry across the country this week. The rush on fuel began following reports of supply issues caused by a shortage of HGV drivers. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen panic buying in recent times, with many people recalling the scenes of last year when supermarket shelves were stripped bare in the early days of the pandemic.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “I can confirm the Government’s reserve tanker fleet will be on the road this afternoon to boost deliveries of fuel to forecourts across Britain.” The Government is also readying the army to start fuel deliveries in the coming days as a response to the unfolding situation.

If news reports about CO2 shortages and ongoing haulage issues are to be believed, this isn’t the last of panic buying that we are likely to see. While it’s tempting to write people who panic buy off as selfish or inconsiderate, it’s actually caused by a range of different factors, some of which are quite complex.

While it’s easy to be critical of people queuing for petrol or loading up their supermarket trolleys, remember that it’s not necessarily a rational response. Fear and anxiety cause us all to act in irrational ways, and our first instinct is to seek safety. Our bodies respond as though we are under threat; our hands start to sweat and your heart beats fast.  You’ll do almost anything to make that sensation stop and feel safe. In this case the safety is a full tank of fuel.

While some people follow along because of copycat behaviour, or because scoring a tank of fuel when others are going without provides a dopamine kick, the majority of people who are panic buying are attempting to manage their anxiety in the face of uncertainty.

Dr Warwick, a clinical psychologist says that he “believe(s) that panic buying by some and not others, is largely down to how well people are able to manage their anxiety”.  We know that the pandemic and the resulting upheaval in people’s lives has led to higher levels of anxiety and stress in our communities.

Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression and the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has over 2,000 qualified therapists across the UK who can provide effective treatment.  Clinical hypnotherapy particularly can be of benefit when working with anxiety, helping to assess the issues and identifying their root – whether it is a situation, a physical issue, a past experience or a relationship.

Working collaboratively, the therapist and client will set goals and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns, both reducing anxiety and increasing tolerance of uncertain situations. Every therapist may use slightly different techniques, but will work towards you achieving your goals – to be free of anxiety and depression.

“After sessions with a hypnotherapist you may feel more confident; more relaxed in situations that have previously challenged you. Many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought” states the NCH.

Click here to access the NCH directory to find a therapist near you.



Photo by Life Of Pix from Pexels