Disclaimer: these are tips for people who have been diagnosed with health anxiety and are not suffering from anything else.
I’ve been suffering from health anxiety for years and years and here are a few things I try to do to keep it under control. Mind you, this isn’t a miracle cure to anything, but it prevents me from spinning out of control (I think).
- Try to make a daily list of all the symptoms that you are experiencing and don’t censor yourself. Just write everything down and be consistent. If you’re anything like me, your symptoms will change almost on a daily basis. My chest pain will usually transform into a feeling of tight throat when I manage to convince myself that I’m actually not going to die of a heart attack. That way, I can focus on my throat cancer. The list will help you realise that your symptoms don’t really make any sense.
- Instead of just googling a particular symptom that’s bothering you, google “your symptom + anxiety.” You’ll soon realise that your headache is more likely a manifestation of your anxiety than of a brain tumour.
- This one is the hardest for me but: trust your GP and be completely honest with them. I’ve noticed that sometimes when I tell my GP about my symptoms, I don’t fully disclose that I’ve been feeling anxious lately or I’ll omit to talk about more realistic symptoms that might make her suspect that I’m anxious. Health anxiety can make me manipulative and sometimes I’ll just tell doctors what I think they need to hear to confirm that I’m about to die. Bad move.
- Call its bluff. Think you’re having a heart attack from the 17th time today? Well, this time, just lay there and see what happens. Nothing happens? Exactly. Anxiety talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. It’s not that powerful. Don’t look up to it.
- Read blog posts or forum threads about health anxiety so that you can see that there are literally millions of us. This isn’t some kind of weird or rare mental disease, it’s actually quite common and boring 🙂 It’s comforting to see that many other people experience those super dark and dirty twists of the mind. You are not alone.
- In the same vein as the previous tip, try to Google how beneficial the things you do are. Let me explain: if you take magnesium supplements or like to eat a certain type of fruit or nut, just look them up on Google and see how good they are for your health. Hopefully, it’ll help you think that not everything you do is life-threatening.
- Try to keep some sense of perspective and humour about your health anxiety. Being able to laugh about it (even if it’s days later) gives it less power.
- Eat healthier (I don’t do it, but I know it works) and work out (ditto).
- GO SEE A THERAPIST.
If you suffer from panic attacks, I’ve also written a post giving tips on how to stop them.
I hope this helps.
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