Health Anxiety: How to Take Back Your Life

Health Anxiety: How to Take Back Your Life
by Eliza Hadley Oct, 11 2023

Understanding Health Anxiety

Heads up, my lovely readers, today let's delve into a topic that's close to my heart, a terrifying but little discussed monster in our lives - health anxiety. It's that invisible yet potent fear of an impending health doom that might never come. I can tell you from my experience, health anxiety can tighten its grip around your life, to the point that it can be debilitating. My journey began as a whirl of endless, sleepless nights, filled with worst-case scenarios that the Internet, at 2 am, seemed to happily fuel. Every symptom tsunami began - a headache was a brain tumor, backache screamed kidneys, and don't even get me started on chest pains.

I felt like I'd lost control of my life, drowning in the maelstrom of fear and anxiety. But, like a lighthouse guiding a lost ship, I found ways to navigate through this tumultuous sea and reach calmer waters. I hope, by sharing my experience and strategies to address and manage health anxiety, you can find the courage to take back your life.

Finding The Root Cause

The root of health anxiety is often a misunderstood, yet potential beast — fear. The anticipation of a grim health diagnosis that hasn't happened, but might just be lurking around the corner, consumes one's life. It becomes incessantly crucial to acknowledge this fear, to question it, to investigate it. The beauty of this process is it gradually removes the power it holds over you.

In my case, it took a gentle nudge from Xavier, my lovely support system, who pointed out the alarming amount of time I was spending on the Internet, frantically googling symptoms, instead of enjoying our beautiful daughter, Lilith’s piano recitals or Bella's playful antics. 'Eliza,' he chided, 'There is more to life than the fear of what may not happen.'

Nurturing Positive Thoughts

Once you've acknowledged and explored your fears, the next step is to nurture positive thoughts. Like watering a seed you've planted, fostering a positive mindset can do wonders to your mental health. I learnt that instead of focusing on the worst-case scenario, I had to free my mind and teach it to focus on the more probable and logical causes of a symptom.

For example, a common cold often mimics the worst of symptoms. Instead of allowing my mind to take a downward spiral into fear, I turned my thoughts positive and reasonable explanations. This shift in perspective did wonders for my mental health. It eased my worries substantially and encouraged me to take constructive steps for my wellbeing.

Seeking Help

Reaching out for help is perhaps one of the most crucial and courageous steps in your journey to overcome health anxiety. There's no shame in it. I reached out—first to my spouse and then to professional mental health providers. Therapy provided a safe space where I could share my fears and anxieties.

What I learnt from therapy was that it's not about finding a magical cure. It's about equipping yourself with the tools and strategies to manage anxiety better. My therapist advised me to frequent mindfulness activities, stating that overtime it would train my brain to stay present and not wander into the realm of anxious thoughts. I tried painting, gardening and even baked a banana bread (to which Bella was the happiest witness!).

Limiting Internet Use

The Internet, in this context, could be a double-edged sword. While it is a fantastic source for valid medical information, using it to self-diagnose can lead to increased anxiety. Dr. Google, I found, had an unfortunate habit of turning benign symptoms into a horrific medical condition. I had to limit my usage, and it wasn’t easy. But it was one of the best decisions I have made.

My time was once again my own to spend on things that made me happy rather than what scared me. I walked Bella more frequently, spent quality time with Lilith and Xavier. The anxiety, without its constant fuel, gradually started losing its grip on me. By restricting my unvalidated medical search spree, I discovered the sweetness of living in the moment.

Combating health anxiety is a journey, not a destination. And like every journey, it has its ups and downs. There will be setbacks and victories. But I can assure you, my dears, that every small step is a significant stride towards a fulfilling life dominated by love, laughter, and positivity rather than fear and anxiety. Stay strong, stay positive and remember, you have the power to control your thoughts and consequently, your life.