Understanding Health Anxiety
As an avid health enthusiast, I understand that not everything about health is all sunshine and roses. On many occasions, Desmond, my husband, and I have discussed our worries about our health. And I have learned there is a term for this - health anxiety. It's a very human thing, isn't it? We are all conscious beings, hyperaware of our fragile mortality. And sometimes, that consciousness can lead some of us down a rabbit hole of fear and dread regarding our health status. Health anxiety, much like its cousin, generalized anxiety disorder, is a very real mental health condition and is not something to be treated lightly. It's not just about being a hypochondriac. It’s about living under a dark cloud of constant fear that you’re seriously ill, despite medical reassurances.
Acknowledging Health Anxiety: The First Step to Healing
Acknowledging health anxiety is the first step to healing. It takes courage to face up to it. Remember one evening, Desmond and I sat on the porch, watching our kids, Harlow and Lennox, play in the garden. That's when I first shared my fears about health anxiety. Desmond was an absolute gem, listening and offering his advice - to seek help, and that it's okay to ask for it.
Most people with health anxiety tend to deny it, pushing their feelings aside, because they fear judgment from others. Others might deny it because they worry that it confirms their worst fears. But take it from someone who's been there - refusing to acknowledge your health anxiety isn't doing you any favors at all. In reality, acknowledging that you have a problem is the first significant step towards overcoming health anxiety.
Transforming Fear into Strength
Fears are much like putty. Much like Desmond's infamous 'blueberry pancakes', they can be mushy, messy, and unimpressive when done wrong, but also incredibly satisfying and sturdy when done right. What if I told you that you could harness your fear and use it as a tool to fortify yourself? You see, anxiety isn't necessarily bad. It's your body's way of signaling that something needs your attention. In our case, it's our mental health that needs love and care.
Your fear, when honed and controlled, can help you develop resilience, empathy, and strength. Imagine the fear as a barbell at the gym. It's heavy and difficult to lift at first, but with consistent effort, it becomes more manageable over time, and it strengthens your resolve too. You become more resilient, stronger in your convictions, and more proficient in handling your fears. You begin to fear less and conquer more.
Remain Active: Your Body Will Thank You
Exercise is an amazing natural tonic for many health issues, and it most certainly applies to health anxiety. Engaging in physical activities such as running, cycling or even activities that are not traditionally viewed as exercise like gardening or cleaning can help reduce your anxiety.
It is scientifically proven, that exercise aids in the reduction of anxiety by boosting your endorphin levels, also known as the feel-good chemicals. An enjoyable bout of fitness not only works to pop the tense balloon that is health anxiety, but it also ensures that balloon takes a good, long while to inflate back. A cherry on top is that exercising also contributes to improved overall health, thus reducing your chances of falling ill, which in turn lowers your health anxiety.
Nutrition and Health Anxiety: Food for Thought
What you feed your body impacts how you feel, both physically and emotionally. So, if you're dealing with health anxiety, it'd be wise to scrutinize what's on your plate. A balanced diet can make a world of difference to how you experience and manage your anxiety.
Eating healthy doesn't have to be a chore, and desserts needn't always be a guilt-riddled affair. Desmond and I take turns in cooking healthy, balanced meals for our family. We try to incorporate all food groups, emphasizing lean meats, leafy greens, and vibrant, fruits and veggies, while having fun with our meals.
Meditation: The Power of the Mind
Meditation can be an incredibly powerful tool in managing health anxiety. Just imagine a moment, taking deep breaths, your heartbeat falling in rhythm with the world around you, and all your worries just melting away! If you haven’t tried meditating yet, you're missing out!
Not only does meditation bring an immediate feeling of calm, but it also helps strengthen your mind's resilience against anxiety in the long term. Overwhelmed by the thought of starting your meditation journey? Don't worry - there are fantastic resources online that offer guidance and mindfulness exercises for beginners.
Final Words: The Path Ahead
Health anxiety, like many other forms of anxiety, can feel like a heavy load to carry, like you're being dragged along in a fast-paced world while your feet are stuck in concrete. You're not alone in this. Remember that it's okay to seek help, be it from professional counselors or your support network. With the right mindset, tools, and hand-in-hand with your loved ones (human or pet!), you can turn your fear into strength and conquer health anxiety.
Today, I still sometimes catch myself spiralling in my thoughts about well-being. I recall all the doctor visits, the restless nights, and the constant fear. But now, I have better coping mechanisms, a supportive family, and yes, a healthier and stronger perspective towards any health concerns, real or perceived. I hope this article would offer consolations for someone else suffering and to let them know they're not in isolation. After all, 'Health Anxiety' is not a verdict, it's just two words, and you are so much more than that!