Health anxiety or hypochondria is more common than you might imagine. It ranges in severity from those that worry about getting ill, or the health of their families and take many precautions to keep everyone well, to those that can do little else other than worry. Those with severe health anxiety can find that their symptoms completely take over their life. They struggle to go about day to day life because they are so worried that their lifestyle could cause illness.
Often the struggles of health anxiety come about after an illness or injury. It’s only natural for people that have suffered from an illness, especially a serious one, to be worried about becoming unwell again. But, if your anxiety is taking over your life, it’s time to find ways to cope and to manage your fears.
Get Regular Check-Ups
Health anxiety can lead to worry. You might assume the worst at the first sign of even mild illness. But, having anxiety doesn’t mean that you are wrong. Allow yourself regular vision tests, a hearing test, and check-ups with your doctor to take care of your health. If your anxiety is having an adverse effect on your day to day life, you might also want to see a mental health professional for further advice. Speaking to other people about your health, and getting it checked out can help to put your mind at ease, but it can also help to get these thoughts out of your head.
Keep Track of Your Thoughts
If you’ve got health anxiety, you might find that you are thinking about your health all of the time. You might spend hours every day checking your symptoms online, asking others for their opinions or worrying about symptoms that might not exist.
Start keeping a diary of every time you do this. Then, try to reduce how much time you devote to thinking about your health over time. Some people also find that they are able to change their thought process by writing things down. Instead of just writing “I’m worried about headaches,” also write “headaches can be a sign of stress.” Focus on the second, more balanced comment, instead of your fear.
Try to Stick to Your Normal Routine
It’s essential that you carry on as usual, even if you have to push yourself to do things that you are worried about. When you are at home, if you start to worry, call a friend or go out for a walk. Try to keep busy, and carry on as normal as much as possible.
Reduce Your Stress
Stress never helps anxiety. When you are stressed out, everything seems worse. Those headaches that worry you aren’t the only symptoms caused or worsened by stress.
So, find ways to reduce your stress, and you might find that your anxiety levels decrease and your health worries don’t seem as frightening. Many people find that exercise, eating well, getting lots of sleep, talking to friends and relaxing with a good book in a hot bubble bath helps. Looking after yourself better will also give you the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing your best to keep yourself healthy and strong.
Talk To A Therapist
Many people go begin therapy in distress but without awareness of the behaviors and interactions which are causing them pain. Listening closely to clients’ stories while interacting with them, therapists are able to help people identify maladaptive patterns of behavior.
This is the first step towards change and growth. Plus, sometimes it helps to just talk things through.