We live in a complex, fast-paced environment that throws increasing pressures and stressors at an individual every day. In turn, it makes way for several illnesses. In addition, a sedentary lifestyle and the constant race to the top bring in more stress and anxiety that, in turn, cause health issues.
These conditions trigger a constant fear about your health. If you are dealing with such health-related anxiety issues, be assured that you can lead a happy life by following these simple tips.1
Ways To Overcome Health-Related Anxiety
1. Face Your Fears
Facing your fears and not avoiding them is important to overcome the fears and to reduce the trigger stimuli. For example, someone whose parent has succumbed to cancer would worry about dying of cancer themselves. Worrying about illnesses, concern about pain, and experience of bodily sensations in relation to the symptoms of a disease you fear about are all related to health anxiety. In more severe cases, it may lead to the fear of death, which is called thanatophobia. A psychological consultation can help you in this situation.2
One of the most powerful ways to deal with anxiety is to directly face the fears in a planned way. Therapeutic attention and exposure yourself to the memories and feelings associated with the loss of a dear one due to health issues, which might have triggered the fear, are an effective treatment option. You can accept the fear by calmly facing the reality that the symptoms are a part of life and it is best to move on with life in spite of it all.3
2. Increase Your Self-Control Skills
Fear of health issues induces an anxiety about losing self-control. You will also feel that your personal domain is threatened and feel a threat to your self-esteem. You start to feel that you may lose your reputation and get negatively evaluated by others.4
Understanding how your self-esteem can be developed and working on it can bring about a big change in decreasing anxiety levels. Increasing your self-control skills and not being alone all the time help in lowering anxiety and fear. Exercises like Yoga and meditation can increase your self-control potential.5
3. Try Psychotherapy And Medication
Early identification and treatment can save you from unnecessary suffering associated with a heightened fear of illnesses. Treatment at an early stage can curb the issues before they become serious and untreatable. By doing so, you will also be avoiding unnecessary treatments that come with a load of detrimental side effects at a later point in time.
Cognitive therapy and behavioral stress management treatments can alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms:
- Cognitive therapy is more beneficial to modify any negative thoughts in a constructive way, with the knowledge of your specific symptomatic behavior.
- Behavioral therapy decreases the problematic behavior and teaches new skills to keep yourself away from the anxiety triggers.
Stress management can greatly help in reducing the stress usually associated with anxiety. If you think that your anxiety is getting out of control, you can consult a medical practitioner specialized in anxiety-related disorders. You might be prescribed antipsychotic drugs to treat insomnia and severe anxiety issues. With these treatments, you can return to your normal life and focus your energy on healthy behaviors like diet and exercise.6
4. Increase Your Mindfulness
Being mindful helps reduce the likelihood of depression factors and the symptoms of anxiety. It focuses on your attention to the physical realities of the present and on the fact that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting. With more practice, you realize what is happening in the present moment and notice your mind’s regular commentary, but you learn to not act on it. It also helps you to accept your thoughts and feelings and to let them go.
In general, with mindfulness, you pay attention to the thoughts related to health anxiety without acting on them. Modifying your breathing pattern has much to do with controlling your anxiety attacks.
How To Respond To Anxiety Attacks
You normally breathe more quickly and deeply when in an attack. The best way to improve your breathing in such situations is to go for a walk up and down the stairs, walk with a pet, or indulge in any activity that keeps you involved. Do not sit or lie down in reaction to an anxiety attack. Phased deep breathing exercises like the Pranayama can help as well.
Learning to relax your muscles during panic attacks can be used in stress management and to treat anxiety-related issues like insomnia, headaches, anger, and pain. Relaxation exercises include easing the muscle groups one by one and proceeding to relax all of the body’s muscles together at once. This latter bit you will master with experience.7
5. Seek Social Support
Taking help from a network of friends or a closed one can reduce the risk of anxiety issues. By spending more time with other people and indulging in activities that you find enjoyable, you can reduce the amount of energy you spend on thinking about health issues. Communicate effectively if you wish to share your experiences with the person you confide in.
Confiding in others will make you feel relieved and steer you toward a more constructive behavior. So, move out and socialize with your friends and family to get rid of your negative thoughts and live a happy life.8
|↑1||Abramowitz, Jonathan S. and Braddock, Autumn. “Psychological Treatment of Health Anxiety and Hypochondriasis: A Biopsychosocial Approach.” Hogrefe Publishing, 2008.|
|↑2||Starcevic, Vladan and Noyes, Russell. “Hypochondriasis and Health Anxiety: A Guide for Clinicians.” Oxford University Press, 2014.|
|↑3||Furer, Patricia, Walker, John R. and Stein, Murray B. “Treating Health Anxiety and Fear of Death: A Practitioner’s Guide.” Springer Science & Business Media, 2007.|
|↑4||Dryden, Windy. “Manage Anxiety Through CBT: Teach Yourself.” Hachette UK, 2011.|
|↑5||Hamama, Rachel, Tammie Ronen, and Rena Feigin. “Self-control, anxiety, and loneliness in siblings of children with cancer.” Social work in health care31, no. 1 (2000): 63-83.|
|↑6||Simpson, Helen Blair and Neria, Yuval and Fernandez, Roberto Lewis and Schneier, Franklin. “Anxiety Disorders: Theory, Research and Clinical Perspectives.” Cambridge University Press, 2010.|
|↑7||Owens, Katherine and Antony, Martin M. “Overcoming Health Anxiety: Letting Go of Your Fear of Illness.” New Harbinger Publications, 2011.|
|↑8||Veale, David and Willson, Rob. “Overcoming Health Anxiety: A Books on Prescription Title.” Hachette UK, 2009.|