The fear of worldwide health concerns such as viruses and health anxiety dominate social media and news feeds, and it is front and centre even more so right now. The symptoms of health anxiety are becoming more and more well known. The majority of people suffering from health anxiety may find they misinterpret symptoms, and attribute them to something more serious.
Fear of the unknown
Health anxiety isn’t so much about the symptoms you may or may not have, as the way you react and respond to those symptoms. Whether you’re concerned about yourself or your loved ones, excessive or persistent worrying could be a sign of underlying health anxiety. The anticipation of the unexpected can worsen these symptoms; in a time when no one source of advice is offering clear information, this can further the conviction that your health is really on the line.
Why do people experience anxiety over their symptoms?
First and foremost, a desire to be free from illness and to avoid any contagious or infectious conditions is perfectly normal.
The reason this feeling mutates into a mental health condition of its own is due to the person feeling a lack of control and an absence of security that manifests itself as obsessing about potential threats – in this case health threats.
Keeping your health anxiety in check
The first step to managing your health anxiety is to recognise that it is what it is; when your world feels as if it’s spinning out of control, remaining calm will help things slow back down again. Taking steps to stop your anxiety persisting will help it become less all-consuming.
- Google is Not Always the Answer
Especially in times of national worry, it’s easy to think your phone has all the answers. Constantly searching for you or your loved one’s symptoms will have you following an endless route for validation. Stay away from uncertain news sources if you can, and try not to leave anything to interpretation.
- Avoid Constant Reassurance
The more preoccupied you are with something, the more you’ll tend to notice it. Seeking medical advice or reassurance from your loved ones will only soothe your stresses until you’re left alone with your thoughts again. Because of this, avoiding constant reassurance will help to stop you from assigning the wrong meaning to certain situations.
- Remember to Breathe
Uncertainty breeds uncertainty. Taking the time to breathe in deeply, feeling yourself connected to the world and your place in it, reminds you that you are grounded. Try not to preoccupy yourself with potential illness, rule out any physical ailments, and remember your fixations are simply that.
- Possibilities aren’t Probabilities
As part of considering any health condition, it is worth asking first, “is it possible that I have got it?” Dengue Fever is a possibility, that you may have it as others have had it. But unless you are hanging round the swamps of Asia or South America then it is far from probable.
- Distract Yourself
Life is for living and obsessing about another potential risk will not make you any safer than ignoring it. So instead of obsessing, first identify the likelihood of the condition landing on your lap. Dengue Fever is not so likely to happen if you hunt across the Savanna plains of Doncaster but the common cold may be more likely, and the common cold may only offer discomfort and a runny nose for a week or so. One can be ignored whilst the other can be managed, but neither need to be feared. So instead of fearing either, follow the health service advice and then distract yourself by going out and living your life.
An active imagination isn’t always a positive thing. Staying aware of your stressors is essential to managing your health anxiety. Get in touch with Betterminds for training that seeks facts, not fear.