Covid-19 has changed our lives in so many ways. It’s changed how, where, and if we work. It’s created economic concerns, made us fear for our safety and the safety of our loved ones, and brought up feelings of anxiety in even the most level-headed of people. Paranoia and mistrust is on the increase.
For some people a lack of trust in the data regarding the seriousness of the pandemic itself or whether it is even real can be based on a government’s management, what’s shared in the media, the behaviour of others in the outside world, which only confirms their bias, e.g. “I see people hitting the beaches, restaurants, crowding together and not wearing masks so it is not serious. In fact the pandemic is probably false.” Then a conspiracy theory may manifest to install a feeling of certainty in what is uncertain (our future) and invisible (the virus). It is a mechanism to help cope with uncertainty by justifying those negative feelings of mistrust, of having a lack of control, of feeling helpless, by coming up with a theory, despite not having clear evidence to back it up. But our brain is designed to believe in stories that satisfy our emotional needs regardless of whether they are true or not, so there lies the problem…
This is not painting a great picture at all for anyone living in the entrapments of mistrust and an era of misinformation. So how can a therapy such as hypnotherapy help? Hypnotherapy works as a powerful adjunct alongside various psychotherapies such as CBT, counselling, humanistic and analytical therapy. As a hypnotherapist I focus on what outome you are looking for, as opposed to feeding and embedding the issue more. The inner dialogue running around our head dictates how we live our life. So a “I don’t trust anything or anyone anymore” is a very fixed, generalised and agonising mindset which can lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation, while a “Things are a bit weird for everyone to adjust to at the moment. Lots of us are struggling in some way or another” is a wider and more objective perspective.
There’s a saying and it goes like this:
It’s not just an event like this pandemic which triggers feelings of mistrust, but it’s also a combination of our own personal beliefs towards it which influence our mental health and well-being.
What can we do for someone who is suffering? First of all, remind that person we will get through this together and it wil be talked about for decades. You will be part of history. No pandemic goes on forever and fortunately today we have more scientists to work quickly at finding a vaccine. If it weren’t for putting our trust in science we could still be in risk of dying from smallpox today. Secondly, trying times gives us an opportunity to focus on building habits to improve our relationships and resiliency. And one of these habits is building trust. Think about the survivors of environmental disasters and other traumatic experiences (such as 9/11). These experiences can bring people closer together and can build trust and deepen relationships. Sometimes out of the hellish of situations a sense of communal support, bound by a shared experience can go a long way. Afterall, we need supportive relationships in order to survive. So two elements are fundamental to overcome this pandemic – one is a vaccine, and the other is trust, especially on a more global level as we are all effected the world over in some way or another.
What are some habits that we can work on building to help us in this particular moment?
- Mindful hypnotherapy exercises can be used to practice being in the moment and prevent negative rumination. The only experience we are certain of is the present moment. The past has gone and our brain has an ability to distort information that has already happened. And the future is yet to happen so we can only speculate about things that are less certain.
- Finding gratitude and joy in the now is a wonderful habit, spending a few moments saying to yourself, or say out loud, or even journalling daily to rewire the brain from its tendency towards negative bias. “Today I am grateful for…” or “…..makes me happy/….brings me joy.”
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy combined with hypnotherapy (CBH) may be used, for example, to look at the fact that business leaders cannot control the pandemic, nor can they control other external forces beyond their sphere of influence. Therefore, leaders must focus on the areas they can control—such as product and service quality, treating their employees well and protecting them, commitment to behaving ethically and transparently—and infuse their actions in those areas with purpose and integrity. We as individuals cannot control the pandemic either, but we can learn techniques such as self-hypnosis to manage stress, isolation, fear, anxiety to empower us and gain back control, resilience and balance in our mental health and well-being. The more self-hypnosis is practiced, the more powerful it becomes.
- Seek out practical information from trusted sources for basic problem-solving. You can get good quality information online and from credible sources, though I recommend you stick with 1, 2 or 3 major sources to avoid being overwhelmed with too much information, and not believe in everything shared on your Facebook feed.
- Apart from hypnotherapy for managing stress and anxiety, learning self-hypnosis to enhance your immune functioning has plenty of evidence to back it up. Here’s a couple of published articles below:
Gruzelier, J., Champion, A., Fox, P., Rollin, M., McCormack, S., Catalan, P., . . . Henderson, D. (2002). Individual differences in personality, immunology and mood in patients undergoing self-hypnosis training for the successful treatment of a chronic viral illness, HSV-2. Contemporary Hypnosis, 19(4). doi: 10.1002/ch.253
Ruzyla-Smith, P., Barabasz, A., Barabasz, M., & Warner, D. (1995). Effects of hypnosis on the immune response: B-cells, T-cells, helper and suppressor cells. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 38(2), 71-79.
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