Reasons Not to Worry About Your Health
I’ve written about health anxiety in previous posts. For example, I’ve asked do you suffer from health anxiety? I’ve mentioned the signs and symptoms of health anxiety and the causes of health anxiety and even the way health anxiety affects everyone. But in this post I want to touch on some of the deeply held beliefs that can lead to health anxieties and the ways in which worry plays a part.
Various deep-seated beliefs play a substantial role in maintaining health anxieties. If you believe you’re a sufferer you might care to consider which of the common one’s I’m about to mention sound familiar. First there’s the issue of uncertainty. It goes along the lines of 'I’m probably ill if I can’t be completely certain I’m well.' This rather neatly coincides with another belief, which is ‘unless some fairly extensive tests are undertaken I’ll never be truly certain I’m not ill.’ But as a health anxiety sufferer this will never be enough precisely because the issue of uncertainty remains.
Because we know medicine is fallible we also know there are certain possible outcomes for any clinical investigation. If everything works as it should a test should prove that either you have or don’t have a problem. Of course we all know it doesn’t always work that way. There is always the possibility of a ‘false positive’ in which we’re told we have a problem when actually we don’t, or, a ‘false negative’ in which we’re told there’s no problem when actually there is. People with health anxiety invariably lean towards false negatives. A visit to the doctor may reassure them for a few days but then the doubts creep in. A blood test or some other form of examination may consistently show negative but a lingering doubt exists that the result isn’t revealing the truth, or perhaps the wrong test is being used.
Concern about your health is perfectly normal but people with health anxiety believe it may be dangerous not to worry. Worry provides the illusion of control but the amount of time spent worrying is often extensive and ultimately pointless. So, one of the reasons not to worry about health includes the fact that so much time is wasted on the fact that you can never, ever, be completely certain that you are perfectly healthy. Imagine if you weren’t spending all this time worrying – all the other things you could be doing with your life.
This is all about challenging yourself to see the downside of worry. I know there are certain apparent advantages to worrying, but they are usually short-lived. For example, when you worry about some aspect of health you visit the doctor, or perhaps you seek reassurance from someone. In both examples these may provide short-term relief but that’s it. The effect of repeatedly seeing someone or asking for reassurance is they find it tiresome and you are no further forward. In the long term it is better to consciously reduce the times you visit or ask for reassurance. You’ll find this an effort the first time, but over time, it will make you feel less worried and anxious.