WHAT IS IT?
Health Anxiety is when you spend so much time worrying that you are ill or that you are becoming ill, it starts to take over your life.
- Constantly worrying about your health
- Frequently checking your body for signs of illness such as lumps, tingling or pain
- Always asking people for reassurance that you’re not ill
- Obsessively looking at health information on the internet or in the media
- Worrying that a doctor or medical tests may have missed something
- Avoiding anything to do with serious illness, such as medical TV programmes
- Act as if you are ill (eg avoiding physical activity)
- Mistaking the fact that anxiety itself can cause symptoms such as headaches or racing heartbeat and taking these as signs of illness
Managing your HEALTH ANXIETY
Keep a diary
- note how often you check your body, ask people for reassurance, or look at health information – try to gradually reduce how often you do these things over a week
- Challenge your thoughts – draw a table with 2 columns. Write your health worries in the 1st column, then more balanced thoughts in the 2nd. For example, in the 1st column you may write, “I’m worried about these headaches” and in the 2nd, “Headaches can often be a sign of stress”
Keep busy with other things
- when you get the urge to check your body, for example, distract yourself by going for a walk or calling a friend
Get back to normal activities
- try to gradually start doing things you’ve been avoiding because of your health worries, such as sports or socialising
Try to relax
- Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds.