I've been seeing a lot of posts about health anxiety lately so I thought it might be worth (hopefully!) trying to create a masterpost where we can share all of our tips, ideas and coping strategies to how to get through our health anxiety.
This can include anything from - nothing is physically wrong with me but I feel like it is - to - I have one condition that's okay but it feels like it's getting worse - to - my anxiety makes me feel like I'm having a heart attack (or something else) and I can't let go of it. Or anything in between!
This is also a post for people who are unsure whether there is something else going on or they are confident in that it's all weird manifestations of anxiety.
Anyways, here are my tips :
- Write things down. Having that physical record of symptoms both get's it out of my head, helps me find patterns (i.e. is it worse when this happens) and helps the Doctor see the trends over time.
- Try to not go Doctor shopping and not look at things on the internet. I think a good Doctor is one who is able to give you all the information 'I want to order x test because y' or 'I don't feel like x test is needed because of y'. I also know that if I were to bring in something from the Internet they aren't going to judge me and instead take me (and my worries seriously) and look at it all logically.
- Try and find things that help you relax. I personally like colouring, walking the dog, reading and going on Pinterest. But I think it's about finding out what works for you personally.
- Learn to breathe. Our anxiety systems are in flight or flight mode - so being able to really breathe deeply can already start to help.
- Learn about anxiety. It blew my mind that anxiety in my head could be the reason that something in my stomach was haywire - so being able to make those connections can help.
- Try to challenge our thoughts. A lot of this comes down to CBT (a type of therapy) which is about identifying some of those thoughts and beliefs that aren't always true. When our body screams 'ahhh it must be cancer' we must challenge it and ask why? Where is the evidence? How do we know this is true? One of my favourite metaphors with this is to pretend you are a lawyer in a courtroom. Anxiety screams it's head off but has no logic - a little bit like a 3 year old :P
I hope this helps! Please feel free to add to it and share what's working for you. We're all in this together even when it can feel so isolating.