- DR. Jack Gibson
How to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
The New Year's Day bells had barely stopped ringing before we heard news that a deadly virus was beginning to spread across the globe. Now a few months later, many countries across the world have closed their doors and forced its residents into lockdown, only to go out for essentials. Many have lost their jobs, thousands have to be separated from their family members, and almost all of us are left wondering what to do with our time. With such great uncertainty people are often loaded with anxiety. Business worries, health issues, and even the casual walk to the shops are just a few of the trigger points building paranoia in our minds. The truth is that filling our conscious mind with negative thoughts has no positive impact on the situation. So let’s delve into ways we can aid our mental health during lockdown.
Why is Covid-19 causing us to feel anxious?
The human mind has evolved tremendously over time, yet we seem to still carry some basic human instincts passed down from our ancestors. One relevant to anxiety is the natural ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response we face when met with challenges. When your brain perceives something as a threat, it releases hormones to prepare us to fight, run away, or freeze. Built as a protection mechanism to help our caveman counterparts survive dangerous situations, it has quickly proven to be problematic in our modern society. Rather than saving us from getting eaten by a saber tooth tiger, our mind and body become filled with fear, as when we are late for work for example.
Covid-19 is no different. The uncertainty and chaos surrounding the virus is seen as a threat to our survival, so causes this same response. With the lockdown in place, many of us are less busy, leaving us more time to think. When a negative thought arises such as “how am I going to keep this business a float”, we are sent down a declining spiral, left feeling drained and anxious. You may also notice that this occurs more during the night time whilst you lay in bed, and for many has a huge impact on the quantity and quality of sleep.
Inevitable, our minds attract overcautious thoughts, because it is trying to protect us from any danger. Watching the media portray the coronavirus and the increasing number of deaths is certainly something our brain wants us to avoid. To do this, the mind presents you with thoughts and feelings that alert you to this threat, such as the fear of going outside. Whilst this is very effective in keeping us safe, if we let it overwhelm us, it can be disastrous for our mental wellbeing.
What are the common symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety can feel wildly different from person to person. However, there are common signs people relate to with anxiety:
Is it possible to reduce anxiety?
Anxiety can take its toll on our mental and physical health. Not only can it feel like it’s draining our energy, poor sleep and bad diet can also make our lives exhausting. Sometimes anxiety makes us feel isolated, but please know that you are not alone. There are countless tools and people to help.
We cannot give an exact formula to help reduce your anxiety, as different approaches benefit different people. What works for some people may not work for you, so please don’t feel disheartened if one method doesn’t work with you. The good news is that there are plenty of solutions out there.
What is mindfulness and self help?
Many people have found huge benefits in mindfulness exercises. This is the process of purposely focusing one's attention on the present moment without judgement. Self help exercises can aid us in achieving our goals, and it doesn't require any external input. Daily gratitude, journaling and meditation to name a few. Let’s quickly go over what each of these is:
Daily Gratitude: When you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed, write down 10 things you are grateful for. For example “I am grateful for the roof over my head”. Doing this puts you in a positive frame of mind, and helps you kickstart the day feeling thankful rather than anxious.
Meditation: Meditation Is difficult to define as it varies between cultures and traditions. Generally speaking, meditation is a technique used to achieve a mentally calm state. Often it is used as a tool to observe your negative thoughts and to then allow them to pass by without following them. It is also common practice to focus the mind on a thought to train your awareness.
Journaling: Journalling is simply jotting down your thoughts and feelings onto paper. You are making yourself aware about yourself, and the way you think and feel. Not only does this allow you to analyse yourself, it allows you to feel free from your thoughts and enables you to move past them
Thousands of people have found these exercises alone to be their solution. It should be said that consistency is key, and grasping the full benefits of something like meditation takes practice, so don’t feel like it isn’t working after one attempt. On the other hand, some people seek more professional guidance, which we will look at now.
How can professional guidance help?
You may have heard of the common talking therapies which are often recommended for anxiety. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling are very popular. In some cases, doctors may recommend medication, but tend to advise other avenues first. Hypnotherapy has gained huge popularity for its results in bringing about a positive change in anxiety symptoms.
How does hypnotherapy work?
We live in a fast moving society, with instant access to information and media that clutters our conscious mind. It is very difficult for us to fully focus on ourselves with so much going on in our head, as we are completely distracted by our external surroundings. During this pandemic, you are probably worried about finances, health, or future plans. All of this is taking our focus away from our mental wellbeing.
It would be easier to understand if we split the mind into three areas of consciousness; the unconscious, subconscious, and conscious.
The conscious mind is the part which is responsible for filtering and making sense of the things we are aware of. Notice how when you are reading a book, even though there may be loud noises around you, your conscious mind filters them out so you can focus on the book.
The subconscious mind is not as easily accessible and controls the way we feel about certain situations, based on past events. You may also notice that you don’t consciously blink your eyes or breathe, this is done automatically by the subconscious.
The unconscious mind is the most difficult to reach, and can include memories and traumatic life events.
Hypnotherapy uses guided relaxation to achieve a heightened awareness, also known as a trance. In this naturally occurring state, you are able to reach and explore the thoughts and feelings in your subconscious mind. Educative suggestions and powerful visualisations allow you to put yourself in a state of peacefulness and relaxation, and confront the object of your anxiety in your unconscious mind. After the session is over, the new thoughts suggested in the subconscious will eventually impact the conscious, resulting in changed behaviour.
Hypnotherapists do not consider hypnotherapy as a “quick fix”. Practice and perseverance are needed in order for the subconscious mind to grasp and apply the new messages.
To get the best out of self hypnosis and hypnotherapy, it is important to approach it with an open mind. Feeling frightened or sceptical is natural for most people engaging with a new idea, but if you are looking to try it out for the first time, we recommend not over analysing the process, and actually wanting to be hypnotised.
How do I get help from a hypnotherapist?
Hypnotherapists often do 1 to 1 sessions, roughly an hour long, to guide you through the process. However, with lockdown in place, it is unsafe to visit a hypnotherapy practice. To overcome this, we suggest looking into audio hypnotherapy treatments. Not only can you use this treatment in the comfort of your home, you are also only paying a fraction of the price of the 1 to 1 sessions. On average you will be paying between £50 - £150 per hour whereas, for example, Dr Jack Gibson’s Relaxology treatments cost only £30 each, and can be used continually until the message has transmitted to the conscious mind.
Dr Jack Gibson treated over 60,000 patients having continuously pioneered the need for hypnosis in hospitals. After realising he could only help the people local to him, he decided to make his treatments more widely available by developing a series of audio recordings.
During lockdown, we are aware that many individuals are looking to overcome a range of conditions including anxiety. Therefore, we have provided a list of treatments below that may benefit you. All treatments will have a 50% discount applied, so will cost only £15 (the cost of 4 coffees). What’s more, each treatment has a money back guarantee, that offers you a refund if you are not happy with the results.
How to practise relaxation Treatment
How to conquer fear Treatment