As the pandemic rumbles on, more of us are turning to unhelpful behaviours to cope. Here we explore how hypnotherapy could make long-lasting change
There’s no sugar-coating it – life has changed in the last couple of years. While we may have moments of forgetting about the pandemic, when we step outside and see people wearing masks, switch on the news, or realise we’re out of lateral flow tests, we’re reminded again of our new normal.
All of us have experienced a sense of loss, and some more than others. Coping with these emotions isn’t something any of us were prepared for so it’s not surprising some turned to less than healthy behaviours. Vices like drinking, smoking and gambling have become a crutch for some and with services across the country stretched, getting support hasn’t been easy.
With traditional routes to support unavailable, some have sought alternative approaches like hypnotherapy. Working at a subconscious level, the aim of hypnotherapy is to make deep changes to our responses, encouraging us to choose something more helpful to help us cope with the stress and anxiety we experience. Let’s take a look at some of the behaviours we can change with hypnotherapy.
A study published in the journal Addiction and funded by Cancer Research UK revealed the number of 18-34 year-olds in England who smoke increased by a staggering 25% in the first lockdown. Whether triggered by boredom or stress, smoking seems to be a vice we’re continuing to turn towards, despite the known health risks.
Hypnotherapy for quitting smoking has been hailed as an effective treatment by many, with some suggesting you could quit with just one session. Speaking on our podcast I Am. I Have, hypnotherapist Fiona Lamb explains how it works.
With pubs and clubs closed during various lockdowns, our drinking habits have changed, with more of us drinking at home. Having the odd glass of wine at the end of a stressful day isn’t necessarily cause for concern but statistics show that, as a nation, our drinking habits are concerning.
According to Public Health England, there has been an almost 59% increase in people saying they drink at higher risk levels (around 50 units of alcohol a week for men, and 35 for women). Deaths from alcohol also rose 19% in 2020 compared with the previous year, the Office for National Statistics revealed.
If you’re worried about your relationship with alcohol, hypnotherapy can help to change the thought patterns that lead to drinking, supporting an alternative reaction to stress. This approach alone may be enough or you may find it helpful to combine this with talk therapy or peer support groups for accountability.
Findings from drug law expertise organisation Release’s Coronavirus Drug Purchases Impact Survey in 2020 found that more respondents said their drug use had increased, rather than decreased or stayed the same since the pandemic started. They also found that seven out of 10 drug purchases were of cannabis, indicating that this is becoming a go-to drug for many to cope with anxiety, stress and even boredom.
As with other addictions, hypnotherapy for drug addiction can be effective here.
“Hypnosis can help not only to curb the withdrawal that many feel once they have given up marijuana but also in addressing the physical habits and mental state that is now being missed by the brain. Hypnosis works by sending messages to the conscious and subconscious parts of the brain, resulting in changes to the automatic stimulus that the addictive elements of marijuana bring,” Hypnotherapist Biodun Ogunyemi explains.
While casinos and betting shops closed during lockdowns, those who liked to gamble took to their computers and phones. Used as a form of escapism and – let’s be honest – a way to fill the time, gambling became a habit for some. According to GamCare, the national gambling helpline, the pandemic saw the sharpest ever rise in women seeking help for their gambling addictions.
Hypnotherapy for gambling seeks to change the negative behaviours associated with your addiction. It uses the power of suggestion to change the way you react to stress, so you no longer see gambling as a form of stress relief.
A lot of us have recognised and spoken about the feelings of stress and anxiety we’ve experienced throughout the pandemic, but there’s another emotion not getting as much air time – anger.
Anger at what we’ve lost, anger at other people’s behaviours and, yes, anger at the people in charge. Some of us have found this difficult to manage, leading to outbursts and damaged relationships.
Hypnotherapy for anger is once again about changing your response behaviour. Using relaxation techniques and suggestions, your hypnotherapist will help to change your response to anger triggers to something more useful.
What to do if you’re worried about someone else
If you’re noticing someone you care about leaning on unhealthy vices to cope, it can be tough to know what to do. Offering them a listening ear is a great place to start, asking them if they want to talk about how they’re feeling and listening without judgement. You may also want to signpost them to professional support, whether that’s through a charity helpline, their GP or a private therapist or hypnotherapist.
If they aren’t ready to talk, that’s OK. Remind them you are there for them whenever they’re ready. Remember to take care of yourself too, worrying about a loved one can take its toll and it’s important to stay well yourself.
If you’re ready to make a change, you can use Hypnotherapy Directory to find a hypnotherapist.