Depression and anxiety are on the increase in the UK, with more than 12 million people going to see their GP with some form of mental health issue each year- and many more struggling on without any form of help. For some people, the festive season exacerbates their existing symptoms, and for others, depression and anxiety are quite specific to this time of year, approaching it with dread rather than excitement. When everyone else seems to be getting ready for a merry time with their loved ones, for some people this time of year only worsens their feelings of isolation, depression and loneliness, and for others, the struggle to cope with the pressures associated with having a great time, managing finances, family and all of the associated stressors creates a tremendous feeling of anxiety.

What sorts of things cause this “Holiday Stress/ Anxiety/ Depression”? Well, it depends – these feelings are all individual, and of course what makes one person sad, anxious or depressed may not affect another person at all.

Typical sources of holiday stress can include trying to balance all the demands of family with shopping and the social engagements, unrealistic expectations, financial worries and sometimes bereavement – this can be a very difficult time of year. Sometimes the pressure of being with people (often family) that you would not choose to be with can lead to relationship tension.

There’s been a lot of talk in recent times of environmental factors too, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now well recognised with a variety of light aids to assist this condition, such as light boxes which recreate natural daylight.

So it’s not a great time for those who feel depressed or anxious. Symptoms can range from increased headaches, excessive drinking, comfort eating, insomnia, trouble concentrating, to mood swings, fatigue, tearfulness – while everyone around seems so happy. So what can be done to help?

Hypnotherapy can help by assisting people to overcome negative thinking styles while in a safe, supportive environment. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (SFH) uses practical, modern and well-researched strategies to help people make significant, positive changes in their lives in a relatively short period of time.

SFH therapists look at what the client wants to achieve rather than on the problem(s) that prompted them to seek change. The approach focuses on the present and future and not on the past. This enables the client to identify possible solutions themselves and work towards them. Hypnosis itself reduces anxiety and this is done very simply through relaxation and visualisation, allowing the client to focus on the positive aspects of their lives that encourages a shift in perspective.