Do you suffer from health anxiety?
Before we get into the discussion, let’s define what health anxiety is:
Health Anxiety, sometimes called hypochondria is worrying excessively that you are or may become seriously ill.
I think I’ve always suffered from mild health anxiety. The minute I experienced an illness or feeling or pain that wasn’t “normal” in my books, the first thing I would do is head to Google to research my symptoms to see what “could be” wrong with me. In some cases, Google was right, this of course was after visiting a health professional for validation.
However, ever since my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and breast cancer at such a young age, and ultimately succumbing to both, my health anxiety has skyrocketed. The preoccupation in my mind has increased in severity.
My immediate thought when I am not feeling 100% is: nothing can ever be wrong with me – I have too many people on this earth that I need to be here for!
When you look up symptoms on Google etc, the anxiety can run away with you.
- Is this a severe headache I’m experiencing? Does that mean I have a brain tumour? So and so was recently diagnosed, and they had bad headaches too, that must mean I have it.
- My breast and underarm area on my left side are sore, is that a lump I feel? Do I have breast cancer too? They said it wasn’t genetic. How did Mom have it then? Maybe I do too.
- This lump I have in my stomach which has ultimately been diagnosed twice (once incorrectly) is a hernia. Is it really a hernia or is it a tumour in my stomach? What if it’s stomach cancer?
- Oh my gosh, they are suggesting surgery for this hernia, my mom went into the hospital and never came out, I don’t want my family to go through that again.
The list of questions/worrisome thoughts go on and on…occupying my headspace and ultimately causing me anxiety which then results in additional symptoms such as trembling, “the sweats”, heart palpitations etc. It can be such a vicious cycle.
Imagine all of this happening in addition to “regular” anxiety!
Do you experience some of these symptoms on a regular basis?
Are you wondering how to make it stop?
Well, I don’t know that you can make it stop completely, but I know of ways that have worked for me that can drastically reduce it.
I simply engage in the following healthy behaviours as often as possible!
1) EAT WELL!
If I take a look at our grocery shops over the past 15-18 months a drastic shift has occurred – the amount of natural and healthy foods has increased twofold! We take our time in each aisle, we look at labels, we buy and ultimately cook as much raw food as possible. My Instagram posts are a testament to that haha! We may have a long way to go in this area but have we ever made a ton of headway.
2) GET PHYSICAL!
Walk, cycle, swim, run, jog, go to yoga, join a gym, get outside, MOVE YOUR BODY for a minimum of 30-60 minutes a day! Do things that require you to be moderately active and get your body movin! Sitting disease is real folks and it’s killing us! I personally have joined Orange Theory Fitness with my husband and on days we aren’t working out there, we are walking, going for a run, playing soccer, running around with our son or cycling.
3) PRACTICE SELF CARE!
Take time for YOU, get to know YOU, the more you know about yourself, the more in tune you will be with yourself and your body. It’s ok to be still, relax, and manage your daily stress. Meditate, go to the spa, take the longest bubble bath you can and read a few chapters in that book you’ve been wanting to for ages, and don’t forget to book those fabulous massages people! (this is the advice i need to take most myself)
These are not the only ways to combat health anxiety though! If you feel it’s severe enough, talking to a health professional may help as well. There may be other factors affecting you that are only discovered through additional testing etc.
Oh and how could I forget the biggest tip?
AVOID DR GOOGLE! Sometimes the internet can be bad, bad place. Anything and everything is on the internet, most of it unregulated. Use your local health website for access to resources and links of professionals who may be able to assist you. Don’t start self-medicating an illness you may not even have!
At age 41, I feel the best I have ever felt, thanks to my new routine of practicing the behaviours I listed above. It’s taken some time to get to this point but it’s worth it. It also helps that I surround myself with supportive like-minded individuals. Your circle of influence can affect your own mindset. What are your friends and family doing to maintain their health? What books do they read? What foods are they eating? How are they being physically active?
Stay positive and strong folks, there are always great people available who will lend a hand or an ear, just ask!