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How to Break the Cycle of Health Anxiety: 3 Helpful Tips

Are you often worried about your health?

You might feel slight discomfort in your body and your mind starts to go wild. All the scary thoughts pop up in your head. 

You start to feel anxious, panic, and in deep worry.

You are not the only one.

All these anxious thoughts revolving around health fall under the same category of health anxiety.

Health anxiety (or hypochondria) is when you spend so much time worrying you’re ill, or about getting ill, that it starts to heavily impact your daily life.

You feel extreme distress about your condition and are constantly in the fear of something worse is going to happen.

When you went to see a doctor and get a health checkup, there seems to be nothing wrong with you at all.

But you are skeptical about the negative results. You came back home, and start to doubt that maybe the problem lies in another part of the body. 

Since you don’t have any professionals next to you, you start to Google, and… now, with all the medical terms and illnesses bombarded at you. You start to see yourself matching the symptoms.

Your anxiety just heightened to a new level.

You just fell into the vicious cycle of health anxiety.

How did the cycle form?

infographic on how to break the cycle of health anxiety

From the illustration above, we can see how having emotional distress from the start trigger the whole loop of obsessional behaviors and thoughts.

Why did the cycle form?

Let’s examine based on the above illustration how the cycle is formed.

1. Long-accumulated Emotional Distress

Some of our daily lifestyles or mindset could fall into this category. For instance, some of us who are more introverted would tend to be less focused on the external environment, but on our own bodies and feelings.

Or some of us are more sensitive towards any discomfort or sensations on the body which trigger the alarm.

Or you have been living in a stressful state for a while and probably haven’t been resting well. Lacking rest or self-care would also make you feel less confident about your health and overall wellbeing.

Either of the scenarios would make us feel emotional distress and tend to pay attention to any discomfort or slight difference happening in the body.

2. Cognitive Bias

We tend to have a cognitive bias when searching online and looking for answers. People have a natural tendency to think that a vague description applies to themselves.

Especially when we are searching online for our symptoms, we are likely to see similar symptoms and instantly feel that they match our conditions. 

Once we see something that is fitting, our fear is going to enlarge.

How to break the cycle of health anxiety?

Let’s first start with what NOT to do:

1. Stop Searching Online For the Answer

If you are feeling unwell and it’s bothering you, go for a medical checkup.

Trust the doctor and science. If you are suspecting the results, talk to the doctor about your potential concerns.

2. Learn to Relax

We can see from the cycle that the trigger is a long-term accumulation of negative emotions and a stressful lifestyle.

You need to learn to relax and let your negative emotions find a way out.

Too much negative emotions accumulating will lead to you getting burned out and also fuel potential mental health concerns. Regardless of how busy you are, mental health should be a priority.

Meditation, journaling, and exercising are all good ways to destress. You can also do these few relaxation exercises in between your hectic schedule.

3. Change A Lifestyle

Instead of worrying about your health, direct your attention to self-enhancement activities.

For instance, do some cardio exercise or have a more regular sleep schedule.

Re-examine your lifestyle.

Did you get sufficient sunlight daily?

Did you have enough rest?

Did you have a balanced meal?

Are you drinking plenty of water?

Did you have some exercise daily?

Put your attention and energy into building a new healthy lifestyle and self-care routine.

If you start to divert your attention to these activities, both your mental and physical well-being will see a drastic improvement.

When you caught yourself worrying about your health and start checking online again, remember the 3 tips today and start to practice them. Nothing is as bad as it seems.

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