Health anxiety is something that affects the majority of people at some point in their lives. We suddenly get a taste of our mortality, and it plays on our minds. What if our bodies fail? What if there is something dreadfully wrong going on just under the surface?
There are plenty of signs that you have health anxiety. These include:
- Becoming frightened easily about your health
- Constantly feeling stressed about your health, particularly in situations where it is at risk (such as breathing in second-hand smoke)
- Avoid places or people who may pose health risks
- Worrying about body sensations and fear that they may trigger a health problem
- Regularly making doctors’ appointments, or changing doctors to get tests and diagnoses
- Checking your body continuously for signs of serious medical conditions
- Experiencing disruptions at work, in your relationships, or during everyday life because of worrying about your various medical conditions
Unfortunately, health anxiety can lead to a host of unwanted side effects in your life. For instance, it might disrupt your relationships with the people around you, limit how you use your body, and lead to health complications. Worrying all the time is stressful and, ironically, puts you at a higher risk of disease.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to fight back against health anxiety. Here’s what you need to do:
Question Your Anxious Thoughts
Instead of just accepting your anxious thoughts uncritically, make a conscious effort to question them. Ask if they really make sense and why it is that most people seem perfectly content in their health, despite the risks that they face.
Once you begin questioning yourself, you can then begin to find real answers for why you feel the way you do. If your ear keeps popping, it doesn’t mean you have cancer or you’re going deaf. It could just be because you went swimming earlier in the day.
Stay In The Present Moment
Why do all spiritual leaders encourage people to live presently? It’s because it works. When you aren’t worrying about the past and future, life becomes more blissful and enjoyable.
Sticking in the present moment requires a change in thinking. Instead of allowing the mind to worry about all the health problems that you might have in the future, you concentrate entirely on the things that you can do right now. When you experience present sensations and forget about what might happen tomorrow, you find that life becomes tremendously more enjoyable.
Engage In Positive Habits Proven To Support Your Health
If you drink, smoke, eat junk, neglect sleep, and feel stressed all the time, then worrying about your health is justified. But if you avoid alcohol, quit cigarettes, sleep seven to eight hours, and relax throughout life, you really don’t have much to fear. Adopting the full suite of lifestyle changes dramatically reduces your risk of developing serious diseases. In fact, you may not have to worry about your health until much later in life.
Yoga, meditation, and other techniques can help tremendously.
Know Your Triggers
Some people have health anxiety triggers. These then lead to cycles of thought which produce emotional pain.
Once cycles of fear get going, they can be hard to stop. However, if you can identify your triggers, you can avoid your mind taking off in the wrong direction altogether.
For instance, you might want to avoid the news (as it is always digging up stories about how things in our environment are damaging our health). You might also want to skip regular checkups, as these can be a source of anxiety in themselves.
If a trigger occurs, you can do something that encourages your continued health and well-being. For instance, you could hit the gym or call a friend. These activities help prevent the brain from getting stuck in a fear loop, putting you in more control of how you respond.
Self-checking is a common phenomenon among people with health anxiety. They constantly examine themselves or get a doctor to do it for them. Unfortunately, it often just makes health anxiety even worse. The average person has no capacity to diagnose themselves accurately.
Again, the trick here is to change your coping strategies. If self-checking is your habit right now, replace it with something else. Try listening to music or enjoying an aromatherapy session instead of constantly fearing what might happen next. This way, you start training your brain not to accept self-checking strategies, letting you move forward with your life.