A major concern for majority of people coming into adulthood and older adulthood is their health. Many have developed anxiety about it to the point that it is affecting their daily life.
Below we will explore…
- Health Anxiety Disorder – What it means to have anxiety on health
- Fear of Aging and Death
- Implementing a Healthy Lifestyle
- Overcoming Health Anxiety – Coping mechanism
Anxiety Over Health Issues
Anxiety is healthcare as mentioned in previous article HERE, where taking care of anxiety means taking care of your mind like any other organ.
However, one can have anxiety about their overall physical health apart from any previous mental health issues. When it comes to sickness and disease, illnesses are identified by the organ or tissue they affect.
If somebody has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), it is understood that this disease affects the lungs.
This does not mean that it has to be affecting the heart too, as the heart is a completely different organ. It is not to say that one disease cannot be connected at some point to another disease or body part.
Eventually a person learns that all organs work in unity together to create a functioning human body. Like a car, it needs all parts to function, once you have a check engine light flashing, tire pressure and gasket lights and so forth, are quick to follow.
Anxiety on the other hand co-exists with all other diseases. If not Throughout the disease process, definitely at one point or another the sick individual has felt it. What is anxiety after all? excessive worry.
If the doctor looks at you and informs you that you have cancer, how can you not worry about your health after all? If you already have anxiety and then find yourself sick and learn you are diagnosed with something physical, your anxiety level automatically rises.
Worry is constant, always there for something minuscule, or something serious, depending on how each person interprets it. When overexposed to that worry on a day to day chronic basis, you are predisposing yourself to anxiety.
Health issues are always scary as they toy with anxiety levels. To have any physical diagnosis puts things into perspective and gets us worried about what our future holds living with this new disease.
There is something in peoples minds that automatically connects health issues with the result of death.
Ultimately what scares us when we have abnormal test results, abnormal blood work, and new sicknesses and disease diagnosis is that we are going to weaken, whether immediately or over time, and the end result will be death.
Although this may be true for some diseases, it is not for every disease process necessarily. Even cancer does not take an immediate toll on your health and threaten your life regardless of its severity.
We understand the importance of our health and life, therefore anything that can disrupt it makes us panic. We want our bodies to continue working like a well oiled machine for our entire lives.
With so many life factors to go through and worry about, school, career, kids, etc, health is just something we do not want to add to the list.
Health anxiety appears excessive when all these other natural factors to worry about are occurring. However, health is the only factor that is not excessive.
Health is important and your health determines everything else in your life and how you handle stressful situations. A healthier individual has a stronger mindset.
They have done all the appropriate things to train their mind to be the strongest it can be through proper nutrition, exercise and overall healthy life choices.
A healthy mind and body can better address other life experiences like that school, career, kids just mentioned.
Fear of Aging and Death
Death is always feared and by everyone, regardless of how tough they appear. We are aware we have one life to live and how precious it is.
We are also aware about how quickly it can be taken from us. Death is essentially what we fear when facing a sickness.
By becoming sick in our health, we feel our body is giving out on us, which in turn will result in death. The fear of death is indefinitely is correlated with our anxiety about our health.
Anxiety about health puts things into perspective. You start to envision all the goals and dreams you have had and, things that you were looking forward to in your life, that now have the potential of never happening if death approaches.
When you are young and carefree, you don’t think much of these things as you try to figure yourself out first and foremost, you feel invincible and indestructible.
A young healthy body can most certainly overcome any health issues if they do occur.
Also, bad health choices and lifestyle choices are not immediately evident in our youth. It takes time for these choices to physically develop and create signs and symptoms. Effects are not evident overnight.
As we age these factors start to manifest and truly, when the fear begins on health. If you started eating poorly when you were young with high carb, high sugar foods, the development of diabetes would show as early as 30-40 years of age.
It has taken your body time to fight off the excessive sugars until it couldn’t fight anymore.
Until that little engine we call the pancreas, becomes exhausted and cannot keep up with the demand of insulin in comparison to the consumption of sugar.
Just like when you mentally burn out from doing too much for too long, so does your body.
If you ate poorly from adolescent years and continued to do so because of the minimal health concerns you have had from your eating habits, soon you will learn that the aging body changes based on those choices.
Your metabolism changes and therefore maybe your body cannot process those same foods as well as it once did.
We can see the affects of aging when we notice these natural wear and tear changes that occur from our lifestyle.
Whether it is putting on weight due to diet, developing wrinkles faster from over exposure to the sun, joint pain and back pain from countless hours spent at work sitting in your office, joint pain from doing laborious work, or the lack of energy simply for everyday tasks that we once had much more of.
This freaks people out, they have seen it with their own parents, family, elders and maybe even laughed at their pain as a child.
You realize now how fast time really does fly by without any stopping or slowing down. You cannot change the aging process and, no amount of Botox or surgery to make you appear younger will actually make you younger on the inside.
Youthfulness is within, it is a mindset. It is how you choose to live your life under your means. It is internal happiness in its truest form.
Implementing A Healthy Lifestyle
Implementing a healthy lifestyle can have tremendous positive affects on your overall health and life satisfaction.
Although aging cannot be stopped along with its negative affects, it can be slowed down through a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise.
A healthy lifestyle can prolong the quality of life. Quality of life is much more important than just adding years to your life. Quality of life matters just like with any product or service.
You can live 10 more years but be bed bound and unable to move freely, suffering and in pain or, you can live a life where you continue to be ambulatory, independent, and mentally stable.
However, implementing a healthy lifestyle takes some work and requires eating certain foods and avoiding others, and doing work that necessarily you don’t want to do.
That is what holds many people back from achieving the most quality out of their life.
Good healthy lifestyle habits to follow for optimal health for the mind, body, and soul include…
- Healthy Eating
- Cardiovascular Exercise
- Weight Training
- Meditation and Mindfulness
- Controlling stressors and stressful factors
Overcoming Health Anxiety
Before implementation tactics to overcome anxiety about health, one must recognize the signs and symptoms first.
Anxiety symptoms are consistent regardless of what the trigger may be. However, some specific indicators for anxiety about health can include the following.
- Frequent flyer, frequent doctor visits
- Do not believe medical professional’s opinion, consistently believing they “missed” something
- Continuously believing test results are showing false positives or false negatives
- Wrapped in the idea that you are sick, disregarding good physical health
- Feeling like something is constantly off
- Constantly googling symptoms and diseases and then self diagnosing
- Overthinking symptoms and convincing yourself that you have them
- Worrying about the health of loved ones
- Developing scenarios in your mind and worrying about what the future holds
If Any of these symptoms are present for you, you most definitely have developed an anxiety about your health.
This anxiety needs to be addressed like any other anxiety, where you need to take care of your mind through various coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms can be found HERE.
Take Care of Your Mind
The focus here and the most important thing to remember is to take care of your mind. When you take care of your mind then the body can follow.
Your mindset will determine your overall health. If you are staying motivated, disciplined in achieving goals, and focusing on factors to determine your overall happiness, then the body will follow.
When you speak to anyone that has lived past the age of 100 and ask them “how did you do it?,” they never have a thorough answer but something rather nonchalant such as “I just lived my life.”
This shows they have achieved their internal happiness within and accepted their life for what it is through mindset and decreasing anxiety levels.
That healthy mindset is then what motivated them to continue making healthy lifestyle choices even if it is subconsciously.
When you feel good you want to do things that make you continue to feel good. Exercise promotes the production of happy and feel good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.
Healthy eating promotes a healthy body function and fuel in order for the body to engage in physical activity and keep the mind clear.
Again back to the car analogy, the nutritious food is the gas for the car and exercise is the engine that keeps the car running.
You cannot have a functioning car without either of these factors. The third factor to actually get the car moving is the driver, and the driver is your healthy mindset.
A healthy mindset is the driver that is driving that car. If they are focused on the road and safety, they are able to go where ever they please. Much like in life, if anxiety is controlled and stress, then you can stay focused on your goals and dreams rather than dwell in negativity and poor habits.
Continue to distress and manage anxiety symptoms and your anxiety about health or anything else for that matter will decrease. You have to take control of your life and your emotions.
Only you have the power to do so with appropriate helpful techniques like discussed HERE.