I’m extremely excited that you’re reading this post on distraction from health anxiety today. Why? Because I want to clear up some confusion i’ve been noticing lately on The Anxiety Guy FaceBook page.
Is Distraction A Tool To Be Mastered In Order To Overcome Health Anxiety?
Many cognitive behavioral therapy teachers use multiple different distraction techniques to take you out of your anxious state. That’s all fine and dandy but there’s one problem here and that is:
Safety Behaviors Don’t Stop Anxiety Disorders! Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and place for them. Such as when you’re about to board an airplane. In this case a safety behavior might be able to help the anxious person control or avoid anxiety, and curb any pre-flight jitters.
While the different kinds of distraction techniques might help you during times where you feel panic and anxiety creeping up, this conditions you to completely rely on these techniques to feel safe. So you can see how this cycle can actually create negative reinforcement in people with health anxiety.
Safety Behaviors Don’t Lead To Long Term Anxiety Control
In my experience helping people overcome health anxiety naturally through the end the anxiety program, I hear a very common story in sufferers. They tell me that when their anxiety therapist solely based their strategy on distraction techniques for health anxiety, it typically led to not working well in most cases, and straight towards the next choice which were Benzodiazepines.
In case of emergency from symptoms of anxiety, using Benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications) are also a form of safety behaviors. Learning not to run to safety behaviors will greatly improve your sense of self-efficacy, and build much needed confidence to face your fears gradually and naturally.
So the question becomes what type of distraction methods help in the long term strategy to overcome health anxiety? For me, it was in the form of taking up a new hobby that completely took me out of the ‘what if’ cycle of panic and anxiety.
Say Hello To Photography
Photography is not a safety behavior, nor is it a CBT safety technique. It’s plain and simply a tool that helped me in the long term to end my health anxiety naturally. I became so involved in the beautiful photos I was taking with my new camera outdoors, that in time I began to turn my focus completely around. I became so intensely passionate about photography that even when I felt my heart palpitations, body zaps, lump in the throat or any other sensations of anxiety lingering in the background, I was too occupied to give them any respect. An unconscious re-conditioning was taking place without me even knowing it.
This Is The Kind Of Distraction That Will Actually Contribute To Growing Confidence Against Health Anxiety! I hope i’ve made it completely clear to you the kinds of distraction that works towards the long term solution for health anxiety, rather than the short term help. Also, your hobby doesn’t neccesarily have to be photography. It can be anything that you’ve given up in order to fully focus on trying to control your sensations of anxiety. It’s time to bring that passion back, it’s time to go through the temporary hardships of turning your focus from your anxiety, to something your future anxiety free self will thank you for.