We’ve all become a little more sensitive about our health because of the pandemic.
That includes following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations of wearing a mask when out in public, handwashing frequently, and maintaining a distance of six feet or more from other people.
But what if you have been experiencing a lot more stress about your health? Have you been checking your temperature constantly, or checking online to research symptoms you can’t explain? Are you spending a lot of energy thinking, and worrying, about your health?
Then you might struggle with health anxiety. Here are five ways that you can cope with health anxiety during the pandemic.
1. Educate Yourself…
First, whenever you are struggling with a fear, it’s helpful to have useful information about that subject. When coping with health anxiety because of the pandemic, that includes understanding the symptoms of COVID-19, as well as current recommendations. According to the CDC, these can include:
- Sore throat
- Body aches/achy muscles.
- Trouble breathing.
- A recent inability to taste or smell.
Knowing these symptoms is not meant to cause more anxiety. Rather, it’s meant to fend off fear. Keep in mind that fear occurs when you don’t understand something or lack knowledge.
2. But Don’t Go Overboard!
On the flip side, spending all of your time researching symptoms and self-diagnosing yourself isn’t helpful either. The internet has been a wonderful tool for disseminating knowledge about the coronavirus to the public. However, there’s a lot of misinformation too, especially when you get into social media platforms.
Don’t use social media as a source for your medical information. In fact, limiting your social media use will be better for your mental health, anyway! Instead, use trusted, verified sources for health information, such as the CDC or the World Health Organization (WHO) to learn what is COVID-19, how it spreads, and for health updates.
3. Focus on Your Self-Care
The ironic thing if you struggle with health anxiety is that you may expend all of this effort to determine whether you are ill, while not taking care of yourself! These include the things that actually make a big difference with your health. For example:
- Eating nutritious foods that include lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Toss out the junk food!
- Exercising frequently.
- Establishing an evening routine that allows you to go to bed at a regular time and get eight hours of sleep.
- Keeping your mind sharp by reading, doing puzzles, etc.
- Spending time outdoors.
These all sound so simple, but they really make a big difference in staying healthy.
4. Practicing Coping Skills
When you have a moment where your health anxiety peaks, it feels as if you are out of control. However, there are skills you can learn which allow you to stay present and in control of your body. That way you can process through the situation and make a more reasonable decision. These include:
- Breathing techniques to keep oxygen flowing into your lungs and also avoid hyperventilating.
- Staying grounded in the present by noting your environment and what you experience through your different senses.
- Practicing meditation where you acknowledge your thoughts but allow them to slip away without hyper-focusing on them.
5. Counseling for Health Anxiety
Finally, any plan for coping with health anxiety should also include counseling and professional support. Health anxiety can be the source of so much stress in your life. There has to be a deeper reason why it’s happening. By participating in counseling, you and your therapist will get to the true reasons why you struggle with health anxiety. Then, you can work toward resolving those issues, and learning how to better cope.
Everyone is more conscious of their health due to the pandemic. But, if you are constantly worried and stressed about your health and getting sick, then you may have anxiety. Some simple life adjustments can help, but therapy will be important too. Find out today how anxiety treatment with Luminous Counseling and Consulting will help, 256-686-9195.