Do you constantly worry about your health? Are you afraid that something terrible will happen to you or that you are currently experiencing a physical illness? Do you seek reassurance from people around you? If this description reminds you of yourself, you might facing Health Anxiety. In the United Kingdom, Health Anxiety is often considered as a sub-category of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). People usually worry about potential illnesses and their risk to develop one, and they preoccupy themselves with their body sensations, while trying to give a meaning to them. The strategies below can be useful ways of coping with these thoughts.
#Tip 1: Self-monitoring
By trying to monitor your reactions and your thoughts, you might be able to recognise your anxiety itself. Usually health anxiety is underdiagnosed, so it is very important to see if your fear of getting ill is irrational. Firstly, you can write down your thoughts on a diary in order to keep a track of them and any compulsive behaviours that may accompany them, such as checking your body for physical symptoms or search information for physical health illnesses.
#Tip 2: Challenge your own thoughts
Coming from Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), after identifying all of your dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs, you could try to challenge them and turn them into functional and more positive ones. Consequently, you can start by finding evidence which contradicts your negative thoughts about health, asking for a friendly advice and get to know a different perspective from a person you trust or even by doing a pros and cons list to explore further your way of thinking – what is there to gain and what is there to lose?
#Tip 3: Gradually reduce your behaviours
Health anxiety is accompanied by many different behaviours which are unhelpful and usually they assist this vicious cycle of emotions, thoughts and behaviours to go on and on. These include (1) checking, mostly your body sensations and symptoms, (2) information seeking regarding health illness, (3) avoidance of certain situations in relation to health, such as exposure to hospitals or public transportation and (4) reassurance seeking by your doctor or friends that nothing is wrong with your health. After identifying your dysfunctional thoughts and challenging them, you can try to gradually reduce those behaviours, which come as byproducts.
#Tip 4: Engage to activities
Keep your mind and your body busy. You can find many ways to distract yourself from your own thoughts. When you find yourself worry or in need of checking your body, get busy with something else. A few good suggestions include a relaxing walk, exercising, a meaningful conversation with a friend, or anything particular you could enjoy. In general, is essential to start engaging in normal activities, which otherwise would avoid because of your health anxiety.
#Tip 5: Relax…take it easy!
Try to relax and be aware of the present moment instead of focusing on what will happen in the future. Relaxation can be succeeded through different techniques, such
as taking a deep breath, counting backwards, or even meditation and mindfulness. If you turn your attention to the present, you will probably calm yourself down and feel better.
#Tip 6: Turn your attention elsewhere
Your focus on particular parts of your bodies could be your trigger for all of your worrying thoughts related to your health. Try to turn your attention away from your body. Enhance your attention skills and try to notice where your attention is turned on. You could start taking control over this through meditation or mindfulness and practice it with related exercises.
The International Psychology Clinic: Private Psychologists in London
For more information about how to handle your health anxiety, book a Consultation with one of our Therapists. We offer effective and up to date Health Anxiety Counselling at our Therapy Clinics in Central London, Therapy Clinics for Expats in Italy and Online Therapy worldwide. Browse our London-based Therapists and Italy-based Therapists profile pages now to find yours.