How to Manage Health Anxiety During the Pandemic

September 09, 2020

The world is in an ongoing panic due to the pandemic, and every individual is searching for a way to maintain balance when it comes to their mental peace. At first, people were hopeful and positive about the outcome of quarantine, but after realization hit that the lockdown would not last merely for a couple of weeks or even months, they had no other choice than to try to adjust to the new normal. Of course, the process of adapting to this unusual routine of everyday life is long and difficult, and it might result in mental struggles, one of them being health anxiety.

If you do not know what health anxiety is and if you may have it, ask yourself the following questions and mark your answers:

  • Are you often worried that you might be seriously ill?
  • Are you frequently checking your body or sensations for signs of sickness?
  • Do you avoid certain places or people in fear that you might get sick?
  • Are you questioning the diagnoses of your doctors?
  • When you hear about certain illnesses or diseases, do you get scared that you might also get them in the future?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might be suffering from health anxiety, and the ongoing situation with the virus might fuel your fears even further. Therefore, I want to talk you through 4 easy steps to help you manage health anxiety during our current times.

No Googling

Yes, I know… You’re on high alert about every physical symptom you notice, wondering if your cough in the morning might mean that you are experiencing one of the symptoms of COVID-19. Or maybe the fact that your morning coffee did not taste as strong as it usually does must mean that you will never get your taste back, because, well, that is how the novel coronavirus works…right? To start with, any symptom you are experiencing might come from a completely different reason. You must remember that Google gives you the results of exactly what you are searching for. For instance, if you type in: “Is sneezing a symptom of COVID-19?”, Google might tell you “Yes” loosely based on a few reports, but you will receive the same answer if you type in “Is sneezing a symptom of the common cold?”, which is actually more likely. Of course, it’s always good to have the latest information about the ongoing situation, but when it comes to your health, relying on Google for answers is never a good idea. So, if you are not feeling well, it is always the best to consult your doctor for your peace of mind, and then stay off the internet!

Have a Strict Schedule for the Day

Now let’s talk about taking your mind off of things. Making a schedule for an upcoming day or a whole week can help you stay on track, and it will keep your mind off of unnecessary thoughts. Having a strict schedule of what you must do during the day, and following through with the plan, will not leave time for you to obsess over your health and to pay attention to every little discomfort your body might feel during the day. So, every night before you sleep, get your notebook or phone and write down every little thing you have to do the next day. It does not have to be big things like going to work, or visiting family. You can simply involve small things like a meal plan, doing laundry, or which TV shows you want to binge-watch on Netflix. Following the plan step-by-step will not only ease your uncomfortable thoughts, but also give you a feeling of accomplishment.

Work Out

I know, I know, “pay a visit to the gym” and “drink a lot of water” is something we hear on a daily basis, and it might get somewhat irritating. But working out is not a piece of overused advice for no reason. There are a number of points that can motivate you to get to exercising as soon as you can: During physical activity, your brain releases endorphins (“well-being chemicals”), you will be concentrated on the workout so it will take your mind off of stressing over small things, and you will certainly gain strength and confidence. Keep in mind that exercising can come in many different forms. Going to the gym or running are not the only alternatives to working out. Dancing, swimming, biking, walking, and yoga are also varieties of physical exercise that can be fun AND productive.

Surround Yourself with Loved Ones (Safely)

One of the most depressing things of this whole situation might be the inability to freely socialize. But there is always a solution. You can establish a small group of trustworthy people and safely spend time with them on a daily or weekly basis. A few people who you trust enough to take all safety measures seriously, such as washing hands regularly, wearing a mask, and social distancing, can help ease your anxiety by spending time with you and doing some fun outdoor activities like going on picnics, walking, biking, or even planning a movie night in. That way, you will be less anxious about getting the virus while still socializing, instead of completely isolating yourself from the “hostile environment.”

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