If you suffer from health anxiety, it can be really difficult to get some perspective on your life, and worrying about your health issues, real or perceived, can become an all-consuming part of your life.
The good news is, that there are lots of strategies you can employ to help you handle your health anxiety better and stop stressing so much.
1. Do your research
This does not always work, especially if you are basically the worried well, but if you are sick and you do need treatment or surgery, for example, then doing your research so you know what the treatment will be like, how the lighted surgical retractor helps the surgeon see inside you and what effects your medication is likely to have, for example, can often help to give you perspective and show you that things are not so bad as you might have been building them up to be in your head.
2. Put your attention elsewhere
This might seem too simplistic to work, but one tactic that can really help to get your health anxiety under control is simply putting your attention on to something else for a little while.
For example, next time your health anxiety is causing you distress, you could try doing a crossword puzzle or reading a good book, which will take your mind off in a different direction.
Sometimes, all you need to do is break your chain of thought to get your perspective back.
3. Challenge the bad thoughts
Something else that can be surprisingly effective when it comes to health anxiety is simply challenging the negative thoughts you have.
For example, if you have a rash and you start to tell yourself that you must have meningitis and you will probably end up very sick in the hospital.
Stop, take a deep breath and challenge those thoughts. Point out to the bad voice in your head that rashes are pretty common and are more likely to be caused by a minor skin irritation than anything more serious. This will help you to get your perspective back.
Of course, this does not mean you should simply dismiss any health issue you have out of hand; if you think you have a problem you should definitely get it checked out by a doctor, but what you should not do is catastrophize and make a big deal out of something when you really don’t need to.
4. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation can help you train your brain to live in the moment and spend less time worrying, and it is actually very easy to learn.
The more often you practice, the easier it is to stop engaging with negative thoughts and start looking at your life with a more healthy perspective, so it is definitely a useful tool against health anxiety.
Health anxiety can be really tough to live with, but it is totally possible to get a handle on it and live more of your life free from the stress and anxiety it brings, and the above tips will really help you with that.