Treating health anxiety can be difficult, but there are some simple and effective things you can do to get yourself on the road to recovery. What follows are 5 simple tips that you can put into action right now. If you can follow some or all of these tips you’ll be amazed at the difference they can make.
1) Don’t Google Symptoms: If you have health anxiety then you’ll often “Google” your symptoms, looking for reassurance that you don’t have the illness or disease you fear you have. In theory this should work, but it never does.
And that’s because, when you do find something that reassures you, you’ll continue looking until you find something that backs up your fears. This isn’t logical, but it’s the way the mind works if you have health anxiety.
Going “cold turkey” can be hard if you’re a habitual “Googler” of symptoms. If you fit into this category then start to limit the time you spend looking up your symptoms online.
Gradually decrease the time you allow yourself for this, until you’ve stopped doing it altogether! This is one of the most beneficial things you can do if you suffer with health anxiety.
2) Surround Yourself With “Recovery”: Find people on forums and message boards who once suffered with health anxiety and have since gone on to beat it.
Read books by people who’ve beaten health anxiety, and all forms of panic disorder.
We get what we focus on, and if you begin to spend more time thinking about and studying recovery, rather than the health anxiety itself, you’ll find that you begin to move towards recovery yourself, almost without trying.
3) Know When To Keep It To Yourself: One of the biggest frustrations people with health anxiety face is the lack of understanding from friends and family.
The more you try to explain your worries, and the more you try to find reassurance from loved ones that you’re not actually dying, the more they lose patience and the more often an argument begins.
And it’s not your friends and family’s fault – it’s simply impossible to understand health anxiety unless you’ve suffered with it yourself.
So if you feel like you need to talk, or you feel like you need reassurance about one of your symptoms, turn to someone who’s had health anxiety in the past, and not a friend or a family member.
The tension that develops when you continually turn to loved ones is unhealthy for them, for you, and for your health anxiety.
4) Exercise: Exercise has been proven to decrease anxiety in all forms of panic disorder, and especially in health anxiety.
Not only will the exercise distract you from your worries while you’re doing it (thus giving your mind a break from the constant worrying), but the physical activity will get your heart pounding and your blood pumping.
Many of the physical symptoms you suffer due to your health anxiety can be greatly reduced and even eliminated altogether simply by being more active.
5) Get A Good Night’s Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep may be easier said than done, especially for someone who’s suffering with extreme anxiety. But if you can find ways to improve the quality of your sleep you will notice an incredible difference in the way you feel.
One of the worst side effects of anxiety is not being able to sleep, or having unrestful sleep when you do actually manage to drift off.
By overcoming your problems with sleep, many of the other problems associated with all forms of anxiety and panic disorder will disappear.
To get a better night’s sleep, try to make the following new habits:
Go to bed at the same time each time, and wake up at the same time each morning. It’s much easier to get good quality sleep when you stick to a regular sleeping routine.
Don’t do anything stimulating for an hour before you go to bed. No TV, no radio, no exercise, no caffeine, no eating. If you have extreme problems with your sleep, even reading before bed can be too much.
Listen to relaxation CDs while you lie in bed for 10 minutes before you try to sleep. The sounds of rain and the ocean and the forest all work very well in calming the mind.
Have a large drink of water before you go to bed and as soon as you wake up (make sure to go to the bathroom before you get into bed, though. Getting up in the middle of the night to pee is the last thing you need!).
Make following these tips your new goal. If you can stick to some, or preferably all, of these tips you’ll be astonished at the positive change that occurs.