You learned about rare but devastating diseases in a book or TV show, and your mind latched onto them. You looked over the symptoms, and suddenly, they began to show up for you. Your mind leaped to the disease in response, and you’re calling your local doctor. Soon, all of your time is consumed by this idea.
This is health anxiety. It’s an agonizing condition that robs you of your time, money, and peace of mind.
It’s extremely difficult to overcome, which is why we’re going to show you how to regain your life before this:
1. Wean off the Need for Reassurance
The very thing you think makes you feel better is keeping this vicious cycle going. You only feel better for a moment, and then the next time you feel an ache or twitch, the anxiety comes back in full force.
The more you go to the doctor’s office or check for symptoms, the more obsessed you’ll become. You’ve checked with your local doctor. They’ve checked you over. They might have an ehr for small practice. It’ll show a clean bill of health. You don’t need to find anything because it isn’t there.
2. Quit Looking For Symptoms
Why did all of these symptoms suddenly show up? It’s simple. They didn’t. Before, you didn’t watch that limb or organ so closely, so you didn’t notice its functions. Now, you’re watching it every single second with undivided attention. Needless to say, you’re going to notice a lot more happening to it than you did before.
If you are looking for something, you are guaranteed to find it. In that sense, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psychosomatic symptoms are a very real thing, and they can cause you endless unnecessary suffering.
3. Find Distractions
When you’re alone with your thoughts, you’ll sink deeper into them.
For many people, it helps to go out with friends. However, you need to avoid the pitfall of shifting the conversation toward your health concerns. Even if you think it makes you feel better, the outing will be over at some point. This will leave you to your own devices.
We also recommend a new hobby. Make it something that requires concentration. The first time you pull yourself out of the obsessive loop for a while, it’ll get easier to do it, because you now have a plan.
4. Retrain Your Mind
Thoughts can become automatic. Luckily, they can also be replaced.
We’ll use health anxiety about a neurodegenerative disease as an example. Any time the sufferer trips over, drops something, or has any involuntary movement, they go straight for the worst-case scenario. “This is it,” they think. “It’s for real this time.”
In retraining their mind, this person would try to say instead, “Well that was a clumsy moment,” or “maybe that muscle needs to be stretched.” The goal is to make the replacement thought become the natural response.
5. Be Patient With Yourself
This won’t be something that comes naturally to you. When thoughts have been allowed to repeat themselves in your mind, they take hold. It would be impossible to count how many times these uncomfortable thoughts have played out on repeat, so one resolution and change of habit won’t be the immediate fix.
Think about when you were learning how to ride a bicycle. You didn’t think you could do it at first, but then, many tries later, something clicked, and you were doing it. We can guarantee you that it will be the same in this case, but it will take time.
There is Hope Still Yet
There is a whole other life outside of health anxiety waiting for you.
It’s going to take a delicate balance between practicing self-compassion and holding yourself accountable. Having this struggle isn’t your fault, but you are the only one who can pull yourself out of this.