Covid-19 & Easing Lockdown: A Ticking Mental Health Timebomb?

As the lockdown restrictions here in England begin to get eased, all the focus is now shifting towards returning to work, being out and out about more, starting to be able to meet someone from another household and the possible return of school (at least for some children).

Having spent seven or so weeks being told to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, the message now is shifting towards being able to take the next steps towards the 'new normal' and remaining 'alert' whilst maintaining social distancing. 

And there's no doubting that for many people, covid-19 and the lockdown has had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing. There has been anxiety, stress and worry about many aspects of life including health, education, employment, finances, being restricted and much more. I know that in the very early days of the pandemic and lockdown I suffered some stress as I adjusted to what it all meant for home, health, work and keeping a roof over our heads.

These sorts of concerns were being echoed all over the country with the ONS (Office For National Statistics) reporting in April, through their Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, that over 4 in 5 adults in Great Britain said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their life right then. At that time, just over half of adults said covid-19 was affecting their well-being and nearly half of adults reported high levels of anxiety. Covid-19 and lockdown impacted on our mental health.

Of course, whilst everyone experienced elements of social isolation, lifestyle disruption, impacts on income, employment and education, everyone's individual circumstances will vary, and some who are at higher risk may have had to isolate and restrict their actions even more than some others of us.   

Over recent days there have been a number of commentators and other people beginning to talk about a 'mental health ticking timebomb.' There seems to be a sense that the anxiety and mental health impacts of covid-19 and lockdown will continue even after lockdown eases, and that more and more people will need help to address their coronavirus-induced mental health issues.  

So will the mental health impacts of covid-19 continue in the post lockdown era?

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The Stress Mindset - Shifting Stress From Bad To Good:

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has added to national (and international) stress levels. There's been the financial stress of businesses being closed down, jobs being lost and people waiting for Government support (if they qualify for something). The closing of schools led to many of us parents trying to work out some sort of home schooling routine, and in some subjects (like secondary school maths!) trying to even work out what the kids were being asked to work out. There has been stress from the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen, or when. And many have been struggling with not being able to see friends and family, or to go out much, or for those shielding themselves not going out at all.

From lockdown to now, some seven or so weeks into it, there has been stress, worry and anxiety. This has been captured in survey data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which showed that over 80% of people in the UK are worried about the effect that covid-19 is having on their life and with around half of adults reported high levels of anxiety and stress.

And now with the conversation shifting towards easing the lockdown, many posts from people online reflect that this stress has now shifted to what the 'new normal' of life may be like as we start having more freedom and less restriction.

Yet whilst stress is generally considered to be something bad and unwanted, experiencing stressful events is unavoidable (like this pandemic), so can stress ever be shifted into something more positive and constructive that actually benefits us?

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Are You More Resilient Than You Think? Dealing With Challenges Post Covid-19

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown, one element of us all that has been well and truly tested is our resilience. We've all had to cope with changes to our usual habits and patterns and we've all faced restrictions on leaving home. Whilst we all face challenges throughout our lives at one time or another, it's rare for a countrywide, and even worldwide, challenge to affect so many at one time.

As time passes and the rate of cases and deaths continue to drop here in the UK, more and more the focus turns to life after lockdown and the gradual return to more of a sense of normality, albeit that social distancing may be here to stay for quite some time yet.

For many of you, lockdown may have taken a toll on your mental health with increased symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Some of the things that you may usually do to feel better, such as socialising, getting out, and some forms of exercise are not available at all or in the usual way. Combined with these changes to normality is the risk to health from catching the disease, financial worries, home schooling and a sense of being confined and trapped in a situation where you aren't in control.

Certainly your resilience has already been tested, and when the lockdown is lifted or relaxed, that resilience may be needed to an even great extent.

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Meat and Mental Health - Do Vegans & Vegetarians Have More Anxiety and Depression?

It's an interesting question that I'm covering today: is there a link between how much meat you do (or don't) consume and your mental health? As more and more people turn to a vegetarian or vegan diet for health or ethical reasons, are they in danger of damaging their psychological health and well-being?

Recently (April 2020) a systematic review of the current evidence set out to examine the relationship between the consumption or avoidance of meat and psychological health and well-being, such as anxiety and depression.

Before I get onto their findings, it's worth me mentioning that I am a vegetarian and have been for nearly thirty years now. My decision was an ethical one, yet I've always been of the view that there are health benefits too from avoiding things like processed meat and red meat (but hey I'm not a dietician so you should always satisfy yourself about the physical health benefits either way). And because it's always the next question people ask: no my kids aren't vegetarian; that's for them to decide when they are old enough.

Certainly there is some evidence that a diet without meat can help to reduce the likelihood of a number of diseases and so, if nutritionally adequate, can provide health benefits in that regard. 

When I became a vegetarian my mental health was pretty poor and I struggled with anxiety and low self-esteem. Was there a link between my anxiety and becoming vegetarian? I couldn't tell you. Has my mental health improved since then? Massively. But is there any sort link between meat consumption and mental health?

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Mindful Hypnotherapy to Reduce Stress and Increase Mindfulness:

Mindfulness has been popular for quite some time now, and in the same way that hypnotherapy shares a huge amount of common ground with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, there is also an overlapping between hypnotherapy and mindfulness.

Within all of these therapeutic approaches, we are seeking to deal with our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. You find yourself with troublesome thoughts, feelings and behaviours and you want to change those patterns to something more helpful and beneficial. 

Mindfulness can be defined as 'paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.' It is something that I employ within my therapy room in combination with hypnosis to help clients with anxiety, stress and so forth, as part of helping them to achieve their goals and feel better. In addition to being okay with thoughts as they happen in the present moment, we also want to expand upon this to help you take this ability into everyday situations and to help you to progress towards your goals.

Recently, some research was published that examined the results of adding hypnosis to mindfulness to reduce stress symptoms.

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More Ways To Deal With Anxiety - Mental Health During Coronavirus and Beyond

The Covid-19 coronavirus pendemic continues to dominate life here in the UK and elsewhere across the globe. As I write this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just left hospital after a stay in intensive care and the daily number of people who have sadly died in the UK has just been published and has risen over the ten thousand mark. 

Each and every day we are hearing more worrying news and updates about the coronavirus and its terrible ramifications. Life is uncertain right now and none of us know when any semblance of normality may return. And even in the things we can do under the current restrictions, there's a constant (justified) need to be alert and vigilant, to wash hands regularly, maintain social distancing and only go out for specified reasons. To beat this coronavirus, we all need to be thinking and aware, to keep abreast of the latest developments and to do all we can to protect our own loved ones and save lives.

It's no wonder in this kind of environment that so many people are struggling right now with anxiety and stress and are experiencing an impact on their mental health.

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Health Anxiety Hypnotherapy Testimonial (and Fear of Flying):

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated here in the UK, there has been a surge in the number of people struggling with anxiety, health anxiety, stress and worry.

Within this mental health storm, I wanted to offer something positive in the form of my most recent hypnotherapy testimonial. Feedback like this can offer everyone hope and belief that it is possible to learn how to manage anxiety, worry and stress. If all of the people who have left feedback on my What People Say pages have been able to overcome anxiety then that means that you can benefit too.

It's always a huge privilege to help someone to make positive changes like overcoming anxiety, so it's a massive thank you to Charlotte for sharing her feedback on how her sessions helped with her health anxiety (and fear of flying too).  

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Free Stress Relief Hypnosis Download to Help During Coronavirus Lockdown

Hey! I hope you are doing ok in the current lockdown climate? 

I've already covered some ways to manage anxiety during the coronavirus outbreak so this is just a really short reminder that my stress relief hypnosis download is still available free of charge to help you.  If you could use some stress relief or anxiety help then my hypnosis download can really help you right now. 

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How To Cope With Coronavirus Anxiety

It's perhaps hard to believe that we are only into week two of the lockdown as I write this. So much seems to have happened over the last ten days or so and I hope you are doing ok in these challenging times.

Certainly normal life and usual routines have all changed for all of us right now, which can only be  a good thing because the more we all stay home and keep our distance from others, the more our awesome NHS will be able to cope and the more lives will be saved. 

And whilst we are all calling it a lockdown, let's not forget that currently there are a whole range of specific reasons that mean you can get out and about if essential or needed. Compared to some other countries who are struggling more than the UK right now and have much tighter restrictions, I'm certainly grateful that I can get out for a walk or run to exercise each day.

The impact of the coronavirus can be felt by all of us yet in many different ways. Many of us are now working from home yet others are still going to work because they are essential workers or can't work from home. Some businesses and employers are doing well whilst others are struggling. Some people have financial concerns or are waiting upon Government support. You may be worried about your own health or that of loved ones should they contract the virus. Some of us are now also trying to do at least a bit of home schooling with the challenges that entails. And some people are being very productive and perhaps learning new skills, whilst many others are struggling with anxiety, depression and stress and just trying to cope each day. 

With all the uncertainty and worry, you may very well be struggling with anxiety and stress about one or several aspects related to the coronavirus. In this first article about how to manage anxiety during the coronavirus I've covered the first three things that I suggest you start (or continue) doing to boast your mental health under lockdown. 

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Coronavirus and My Hypnotherapy - Update

I'm writing this update on Monday 23rd March 2020 from my office in Ely. 

Since the end of last week I have ceased all face to face appointments with clients. Events with coronavirus are accelerating so quickly that it really is not safe to continue seeing people in person. Like most of us, I do not want to contribute to the spread of the virus, to people catching the disease and possibly dying and to the burden upon our wonderful NHS.

I want to say a huge thank you to all of my clients who have been supportive and understanding of this decision. I really do appreciate you agreeing to postpone until life returns to normal and it is safe to recommence. If any clients need email advice and support please do let me know and I'll do all I can.

I wrote a few suggestions in my most recent article (Coronavirus And Your Mental Health) and you can get a copy of my Stress Relief Hypnosis Download to support you.

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