Do you suffer from health anxiety? Is it true that whatever strange and new bodily sensation or symptom ramps up your anxiety, believing it must be a significant problem? Are you always concerned that, even if your doctors assure you everything is fine, something unknown and undetected is developing inside you and slowly turning into something else?
Do you frequently participate in bodily checks, such as your heart rate or sensations in various parts of your body in search of assurance that everything is OK? Are you spending a significant amount of time surfing the web for symptoms, and researching medical conditions that you may or may not have? If this is the case, you may be suffering from unhealthy health anxiety or one of its variants: health-focused anxiety – which can cause a lot of worry and frustration.
Although it is never a bad idea to check in with your doctor now and then (get that annual physical!) or to perform health screenings as advised, excessive checking and assurance-seeking might be making your anxiety worse rather than providing the much-needed comfort you are searching for from some of your habits.
Here are some habits you should stop doing (or at least do less of) if you have health anxiety, along with some healthier coping options.
Try to limit your checking and reassurance-seeking behaviors as much as possible.
A thorough checkup consists of several components, including looking for new moles or bumps, weighing yourself or measuring different parts of your body, monitoring your pulse or blood pressure, asking family members or health professionals about your symptoms, and posting questions online for opinions about the health problems you may be experiencing. When done as the medical community advises, keeping an eye on your body and looking for any unusual signs and symptoms may be beneficial and healthy, but most health anxiety checking is usually excessive and pointless.
We Google symptoms to obtain assurance, unaware that such behavior increases and reinforces our anxiety.
Do not get caught up in the minutiae of your fitness watch.
If you use a Fitbit, an Apple watch, or any other health monitoring wrist gadget, get rid of it if you find yourself constantly checking different metrics such as your heart rate, heart rate variability, or ECG results. This sort of behavior is similar to that of googling ailments; it keeps us overly inwardly focused and increases anxiety.
Every new and unusual physical symptom should not be taken as a warning.
Our bodies are strange. Occasionally, everyone experiences odd aches and pains. It is natural, and they usually pass after a while. These things happen to the average person, but not to the same extent since they are not as internally focused.
It is difficult to quit habits. It will be unpleasant, especially at first. What you will discover over time is that stopping these activities frees you from the health anxiety trap that keeps you from fully living your life.
It is essential to replace outdated habits with new ones. Instead of performing the four actions listed above, consider doing the following.
See your Physician
If you have been avoiding it, get your annual checkup, follow all of your doctor’s orders, and perform the suggested tests. However, it is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions rather than what your anxiety is dictating for you to check. If you think something terrible may be wrong, see a doctor right away, but try to recognize when you are just seeking short-term comfort and relief. The comfort will pass quickly, and before you know it, you will be onto the next thing.
Talk to a professional
Seek out a therapist specializing in anxiety disorders and has extensive experience treating health anxiety. A therapist may assist you in better understanding your health anxiety and teaching you some healthier coping mechanisms for managing it. You will also benefit from the instructor’s feedback and help you figure out how you got here and what is causing your anxiety. A therapist can assist you in making progress by overcoming health anxiety.
Some Anxiety is normal
Humans, like other species, have a basic instinct to survive. This is especially true because many people are not aware of their health or do not interest in it. When we are worried about our health and well-being,
You may tolerate and accept a certain amount of uncertainty if you are willing to embrace it.
The only thing that would likely help you overcome your health anxiety is knowing that your risk of developing future health problems is zero – and this is not going to happen. You will discover that as you begin to accept and tolerate some level of risk above zero, you will shift from anxious thinking into a life of your design.
Consider how many times you have been incorrect about your anxious thoughts. How many times have you had these anxious thoughts and doubts before? Moreover, how many times have you been wrong about your worst-case assumptions? You have probably been incorrect about most, if not all, of them since you started reading this. Allow that to sink in for a moment.
Take your attention away from yourself and focus it on something else. An excessively intense internal focus is another characteristic of health anxiety. Try to shift from an internal to an outward focus while thinking about yourself, scanning your body, or engaging with anxious ideas. Do something fun. Make a call, go for a stroll, read a book, and engage with the world. Distraction is a useful tool in combating intrusive anxiety-provoking thoughts.
Following these suggestions will help you slowly disentangle from chronic anxious thoughts related to your health. Begin by connecting with a therapist who understands your situation and building momentum. We can assist you with your queries and concerns so that you are not trapped in this mindset.