Brexhaustion: Long, grinding Brexit is stressing people out

Fatigue and stress caused by three years of conflict has prompted new terms: Brexhaustion or Strexit

Elly Wright, a Dutch painter who has lived in Britain for 51 years, poses for photographs next to one of her paintings at her home in Epsom, on the south west edge of London, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Elly Wright can’t sleep through the night.

The Dutch native, who has lived in Britain for 51 years, keeps thinking about the black boots of Nazi soldiers marching by her basement window as they brought Jews to a nearby camp in her homeland. The flashbacks have been triggered by Britain’s heated debate over leaving the European Union, which has brought division, strife and fear of foreigners. The 77-year-old painter says it has shattered her sense of belonging.

READ MORE: What next? A new delay could prolong UK’s Brexit agony

“(Britain) is my home,” Wright said quietly. “That is being taken away from me.”

Wright isn’t alone in her angst. The acrimony over Brexit, which has reached fever pitch as deadlines come and go while politicians squabble, is affecting the mental wellbeing of people from Belfast to Brighton.

Job uncertainty. Visa worries. Confrontational conversations between family members or friends with opposing views on Brexit. The fatigue and stress caused by three years of conflict has spawned new terms: Brexhaustion or Strexit.

“It’s a civil war,” said Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology at Manchester Business School. “What the country is going through is not a war with Europe. It’s not us against them. It’s internal.”

Just when some thought a conclusion could be drawn, Britain’s departure was delayed by six months at an emergency EU summit this week. Whether in favour of exit or hoping to stay, the long argument just got longer, and, for many more stressful.

Some have taken note of the trend. Online meditation provider Headspace has added bespoke meditations to help people manage Brexit stress, addressing issues such as having difficult conversations and what to do when you feel overwhelmed. Mike Ward, a London-based therapist who specializes in treating anxiety, estimates that some 40% of his patients now bring up Brexit-related issues, while cognitive-behavioural clinical hypnotherapist Becca Teers says many of her clients struggle with their lack of control over how Brexit might affect them.

Researchers at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, found that the “subjective well-being,” or happiness, of Britons has declined since the 2016 referendum — regardless of a person’s position on Brexit. The researchers believe this is because those in favour of remaining in the EU are upset with the outcome, and those who want to leave are unhappy with how politicians are handling the process.

The study was based on an analysis of the Eurobarometer surveys conducted every year that ask 1,000 people in each EU country about the economic outlook, their job prospects and issues ranging from terrorism to immigration and climate change.

Business consultant BritainThinks asked focus groups to name a song that encapsulated their emotions about Brexit. Their answer: the theme song from the classic horror movie “The Exorcist.” And that question was asked before the EU stretched the deadline to Oct. 31, Halloween.

“People consistently tell us how worried (Brexit) makes them feel,” said Tom Clarkson, research director at BritainThinks. “It’s just pessimistic mood music in the background.”

Brexit has been a major story in Britain since before the June 2016 referendum, as the country tries to unpick the legal and economic ties that have bound it to the EU for over 40 years. Things have ramped up since December as Parliament repeatedly rejected a withdrawal agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May, raising the prospect of a chaotic no-deal exit that could have devastating effects on the economy.

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Second dump site of Dungeness crab discovered

DFO confident new site related to April 2 dump of 250 more crab

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Nisga’a leader named UNBC chancellor

Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell is the first Indigenous leader to assume the role

On The Wing: Hazy seas and dead Krill

Large die-off of krill in Delkatla Bay

QC food bank needs cash

Feed the People program shuts down for month of May

Canada privacy watchdog taking Facebook to court

If the court application is successful, it could lead to modest fines and an order for Facebook to revamp its privacy

One million recyclable bottles “lost” daily in B.C., foundation says

387 million beverage containers didn’t make it back into the province’s regulated deposit refund system in 2017

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

RCMP arrest B.C. man following threatening Vaisakhi Facebook post

Post made reference to pressure cooker bomb at massive Surrey parade

Northern B.C. high school student reaches 100,000 followers on YouTube

Voice actor, animator, Jericho Fortune has more than 30-million views on his channel GTAGAMER222

Most Read