Do you struggle with health anxiety? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world face a daily battle with health anxiety disorder (formerly known as hypochondria). If you’re prone to anxiety, your health is one of the easiest things to obsess about because we value life, it’s natural to worry about your health.
But now in the UK, we are facing an unprecedented public health crisis. The reality is that Covid-19 is a scary, I am anxious, my friends, family and neighbours are anxious. Anxiety is a normal, healthy, proportionate response to a global crisis that we are experiencing right now.
With health anxiety people develop an unhelpful preoccupation with their health. A useful definition I once read is: ‘The catastrophic misinterpretation of benign physical symptoms’. For example if you get a tension headache, you start Googling symptoms and become convinced you have a brain tumour. If your heart rate speeds up, because you’re anxious, you are sure you have a heart problem.
If you are suffering from Coronavirus related anxiety things can’t be easy for you right now. Every time watch the news or a Downing Street briefing or look at social media, you are confronted with frightening, doom-laden headlines about this COVID 19 virus that is sweeping through the global population. You, like so many of my clients, must be overwhelmed with anxiety.
You can’t let anxiety dominate your life. You need to take action to help yourself.
First of all BREATHE. When you are anxious, your breathing goes haywire. Basically, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow. This will make you feel dizzy, tight-chested and breathless. Which is not useful, if you’re already worrying about a virus that targets your lungs.
So you need to slow your breathing right down, breathe abdominally, for roughly four seconds in and four seconds out at the same time focus on your belly moving up and down. Do this for at least a minute, more if possible, whenever you need to calm yourself down.
Secondly get some help don’t suffer alone. There are plenty of charities set up to help with health anxiety such as: Anxiety UK, OCD Action, Young Minds.
If you would like help from me, use my contact form to get in touch.
If you are having a tough time right now, know that help is out there for you.