Overcoming Health Anxiety: Coping with Uncertainty of Recovery
When you are suffering physically or mentally, you're often waiting for healing to manifest. If it takes longer than what you hoped or expected, you may become discouraged. This is natural and normal. I never would blame anyone for wanting to get better quickly. However, sometimes your desire to get better becomes a permanent stance of impatience that can thwart your effort to get better. You can even develop health anxiety about whatever is ailing you. It becomes a cruel paradox where you strive so hard to not feel bad that you make yourself more miserable. Living in the future too much distracts you from what you can do in the moment to make ourselves feel better.
I know a lot of people who have emotional or physical problems, both professionally and personally. I have been in that boat frequently. Struggling with chronic pain and illness is never a fun thing. You may have observed that people who live well and feel better quicker, do not get caught up in how fast their healing takes. They’re not in competition with other people who also suffer to see who gets better fastest and in the best way. You and all of the humans have what is called bioindividuality, which means that you all have unique body chemistries that interact with our emotional and spiritual selves. What works for one person may not work for another.
What not to do about your health anxiety
There are some things, like alcohol and cigarettes, that don’t work for most people to create optimal well-being. Yet there are exceptions to every rule, aren’t there? Some people might do very well on diets with a lot of meat and rich foods, while someone else might feel better eating mostly vegetables and fruit. The point is that if you find something that works for you, it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else who has similar health problems or mental health issues. One diet doesn’t fit all and one health regimen isn’t right for everyone. Therefore, we all need be careful about how we talk about our health, not just for others’ sake but also for our own sake.
Impatience and anger while waiting for healing to manifest
What do I mean by this? When you think of yourself as inadequate because you have a mental or physical condition, or get angry at yourself for not progressing further, it rarely serves you. If it motivates you to action, such as exercising more, eating better, applying ourselves rigorously to what your doctors recommend, then it can help. However, your impatience and anger at yourself usually turns into a self-destructive pattern of self- rebuke and low self-esteem, sometimes even leaving to depression. It’s a fine line to know when impatience may work for you or against you. However, if you are comparing yourself negatively to others who are healing more quickly, I think we can agree that it is working against you. In addition, it becomes unhealthy when you get so bogged down in impatience and anger, that you ignore what you can do in the present moment to improve your well-being.
What to do while you’re waiting for healing to happen
Sometimes there isn’t a lot you can do in the moment, at least from a medical standpoint. You may be taking your medications as prescribed, going to psychotherapy or physical therapy, or eating the way you’re supposed to, but you don’t see the desired results. As a result, the internal work you need to be doing falls by the wayside. What is this internal work? It’s noticing what’s going on right now in our body, mind and spirit. It’s paying attention to how your body moves so you don’t injure it. It may also involve learning about how your mental attitude and notions affect your body.
For example, if you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease or IBS, you may want to work on reducing stress and anxiety, as there is a clear link between the two. You may also want to learn about how your emotions affect your pain level, since depression and pain often go together.
If that sounds too ethereal and abstract, let me break it down for you. You can observe how you’re moving, how you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling emotionally. Then you can use that data to make decisions about how you care for yourself I find that meditation really helps me get in touch with all of this, but you can also use journaling, yoga, Chi gong, Tai Chi, and other practices like this. There are many options to explore and try; I encourage you to explore this, because it is within your control and can be very beneficial to you in your healing.
Getting angry doesn’t necessarily mean you will manifest healing
That is a better use of your time and energy than getting angry at yourself for not being healthier. Anger at ourselves is only useful if it motivates you to protect yourself or energizes you toward finding effective solutions. Please keep this in mind next time you find yourself getting frustrated with yourself for not being healthier, happier, more productive, etc. if you are interested in finding out more, please call me at (661) 575-7135 to make an appointment.