Last Christmas all over again?

There is a new Covid variant, and all of a sudden this Christmas is starting to look and feel rather a lot like last Christmas to many people around the UK. Rather than happily making plans, people are scouring the news watching and waiting for the axe to fall. England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has urged people to cut down on socialising and prime minister Boris Johnson has said a “tidal wave” of Omicron is coming, encouraging everyone to get their booster jabs.

It’s been a difficult couple of years. The ramifications of isolation, economic and job stress, and the death of loved ones have been well documented. Recent studies of people who have lost loved ones from Covid have shown that the grieving process is more intense. While grief is not a mental health problem, it can increase vulnerability to mental health issues. Approximately 10% of bereaved people experience mental health conditions such as such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or prolonged grieving. Funerals and other rituals have also not been able to proceed in the same way, leading to anguish as mourners are not able to physically comfort each other.

Mental health charity Mind states that Christmas is usually a difficult time of year for people. The addition of a new variant of Covid and sharply rising cases, along with a Government which seems determined not to act until the last minute has led to a climate of fear. Too much anxiety can lead to the development of mental ill health symptoms and unhelpful coping strategies, such as drinking too much alcohol or turning to drugs, avoiding healthy activities, eating too much or too little, and self-medication.

Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression. The NHS provides a range of talking therapies, however they are currently struggling with demand and there can be long wait times and overly proscriptive conditions attached to accessing services.

Early intervention is essential to achieve the best possible outcome, before mental health struggles become entrenched patterns of behaviour. The National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) writes that “hypnotherapy is a fast-acting listening and talking therapy that combines a variety of tools tailored to the client’s personality and needs to achieve a desired specific outcome.” The NCH believes that it’s important reduce anxiety in one’s life as research shows that prolonged exposure to the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol can cause memory problems, a weakened immune system and many other negative health outcomes.

Click here to access the NCH directory, with nearly 2,000 therapists all around the UK there’s sure to be someone to help close to you.


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