Do you often lie awake at night, worrying about your health? Are you forever seeing your doctor about one health scare after another, despite staying generally well? If so, you may suffer from hypochondria, or illness anxiety disorder (IAD), to use its new name. While it’s important to be aware of body changes and monitor any that concern you, obsessive anxiety will hamper your lifestyle, and could even make you ill itself. What you need is a safe balance that will free you up to enjoy life to the full, worry-free. Use the simple guidance below to find that perfect balance.
It’s wise to undergo any screening tests available to you, especially those recommended by your doctor. It’s also important to carry out any recommended self-help checks, such as blood pressure, pulse and breast checks, and to keep an eye out for changes in your body generally. But it’s also important to limit these checks to the prescribed time intervals and try not to fret about them in between. If you’ve had the all-clear from a screening test, for instance, shut it out of your mind until the next one, unless you have a specific and viable reason to be concerned. There’s another reason for keeping an interval between checks – you’re more likely to spot any changes in your body if you compare findings after a time lapse, rather than every week or every day. Bear in mind, too, that the skin may become red and tender and the flesh sore and swollen if you keep prodding the area of concern, complicating the matter further.
If you notice a change in your body, don’t jump to the conclusion that you have a serious illness or any health issue at all. Consider all possible causes, including recent activities or situations which could have caused the condition. Chest pains might be the result of recent exercises, for instance, rather than signs of heart disease, and spots could be caused by stings, bites, allergies or bruises, rather than anything more serious. Always look for positive, harmless causes of the changes you notice, and give them a little time to fade before considering any worrying cause, unless you have very good reason for concern.
Minor bodily changes that you can’t explain can be worrying. Even if they are harmless, they may take time to disappear, adding to your anxiety. But it’s perfectly natural for your body to acquire a few harmless marks, bumps and other changes through life, so don’t torture yourself with undue angst about them. Look at the bigger picture – your general health, appetite, energy levels and overall well-being. If you feel reasonably well in yourself and sufficiently energized to keep going with your usual lifestyle, you probably have nothing to worry about, so keep an eye on those changes for a while in case they should develop in any way, but don’t lose sleep over them.
If you are seriously concerned about a change in yourself and a potentially significant cause, see your doctor about it and leave the matter in their hands. If further appointments are needed, you can rest assured that the problem is being dealt with; if not, you can celebrate, but either way, try to switch your mind off the matter unless any action is required of you. Health worries can all too easily infiltrate your life, distracting your concentration, spoiling happy events and interfering with your plans and achievements, so you need to keep it under control. If you must worry, allocate time slots for addressing the matter – say five minutes a day or half an hour a week, until it’s resolved or, if necessary, put in the hands of the experts.
Life is for living, not for fretting through, and that’s important to remember. Keep busy with interests and social activities, and you’ll soon find you’ve little time for health worries. You’ll feel better for not worrying, too, so apart from undergoing recommended checks and keeping a casual eye out, the best thing you can do is relax and enjoy yourself.
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