“To create a proper health anxiety treatment plan we must uncover how we got here.” – Dennis Simsek
Imagine thinking that every bodily sensation you feel is a current or upcoming illness. Imagine conversing with others but never truly paying attention because of your over-emphasis on your inner world. Imagine repeated years of never fully feeling like you can ‘let go’ and simply live.
Welcome to the strange world of health anxiety.
It’s a world that can only be understood (and helped in my opinion) by people who’ve gone through it themselves.
Sufferers become so obsessed with their symptoms, intrusive thoughts, and micromanaging every feeling that they deplete themselves physically. It’s no wonder that health anxiety sufferers feel the need to nap just moments upon waking up from an 8 hour sleep. It’s hard work being miserable, I can tell you that by experience.
This cycle of inner fighting, battling to help others understand, and physical depletion came on progressively. As much as you may feel like health anxiety appeared ‘out of the blue’ there were some repeated habits that turned you into the sensitized person you are today. These habits include:
This could be one or a multitude of events that progressively sensitized your nervous system. When the system becomes overwhelmed in this manner 1 of 3 things start happening:
- You remember the event and feeling, you didn’t know what to do with it, so you filled your life up with more and more things to do.
- You store the photo that was taken just prior to the peak of the traumatic event, and lose all feelings.
- The event and feelings move directly to the subconscious mind and body within seconds of the event and you have no memory of it happening. The body remembers, but the mind doesn’t.
What’s taking place in your life right now is that the same brainwave patterns are showing up whenever the memory of the event shows up (unresolved trauma?). Not only that, but any fragment of that memory can also trigger stress chemicals to fire off throughout your body without any conscious thought.
This makes understanding and applying Emotional Reframing within your health anxiety treatment plan that much more important.
As you’ll understand through the video below, this process can bring us tremendous inner relief and upon further reflection we can begin truly letting go of our traumatic past.
- Rejecting – Behaviours that communicate or constitute abandonment of the child such as a refusal to show affection.
- Isolating – Preventing the child from participating in normal opportunities such as social interactions with certain people.
- Terrorizing – Threatening the child with severe or sinister punishment or deliberately creating an environment of fear.
- Ignoring – This is where the caregiver is psychologically unavailable to the child and fails to respond to the child’s behaviour.
- Corrupting – Authority figure behaviour that urges the child to learn false values that reinforce anti social or deviant behavioural patterns such as aggression, criminal acts, or substance abuse.
Core negative beliefs are the beliefs you hold in your subconscious mind that show up as bodily sensations and feelings in the body. As these core beliefs that you identify with show up and you think and act in accordance with them the stronger they become. These core beliefs don’t scream, rather they are subtle most of the time.
Within a proper health anxiety treatment plan must first come the conscious awareness of what these core beliefs are. Upon recognizing what you believe about yourself, others, and the world, we have a solid starting point. When recognizing these core beliefs we must be brutally honest with ourselves. Usually it helps to look in the mirror upon waking up and ask yourself these questions:
- “Who am I?”
- “What do I believe I deserve?”
- “How do I describe other people?”
- “What does my future look like?”
- “What haven’t I let go of from the past?”
Remember, even if you consciously cannot recognize your core beliefs your body is showing you what they are all day long.
If the body is in a parasympathetic state (rested, calm, inner processes are working in harmony) we can rest assured that our nervous system doesn’t deem much of the outside world as threatening. However, if we are highly symptomatic or in constant fight, flight, or freeze we know that at our core we believe something in the outside world may cost us our survival should we attempt to interact with it.
As the video below will reveal, our mindset is everything as we uncover our core beliefs:
Reframing will help to discharge stored energy in the body and place a new meaning over your past. Replacing your core beliefs will bring about a shift towards inner calmness, and responding properly will cement your new identity. I say identity because this truly is a journey of becoming first prior to receiving.
You must BECOME someone else before you can feel like someone else.
Within a proper health anxiety treatment plan comes your ability to think greater than your bodily symptoms of anxiety. CBT does a great job of this as we develop a certain set of skill sets to use in the moment of sensitivity. These skill sets help us to shift from a perception that brings us more discomfort and inner distress, to one that provide us with the ability to become flexible in how we think.
The more options you bring to your awareness as to how to think about your bodily symptoms of anxiety the faster you will heal. This path towards greater thinking doesn’t lead to anxiety symptoms dissipating quickly though. It leads to your ability to become more disinterested by the thoughts that used to send you into a spiral of catastrophic thinking.
Your actions either strengthen your core beliefs or replace them with new ones.
Now that we understand the importance of how we think we must also add behaviours to our health anxiety treatment plan. When thinking about the ‘right’ type of behaviour think about the opposites of what you’re currently doing. A simple tweak in behaviour from constricting your body to letting go would be a good example of a calm awareness mindset and moving in a new empowered direction. A few other examples are:
- Go for a walk in nature rather than sit in your room
- Engage in a conversation with the cafe clerk when all you want to do is run away
- Slow down the speed you do things rather than speeding them up
- Speak with confidence about your progress rather than speaking about your anxiety symptoms
As you can see, within a solid health anxiety treatment plan must come your ability to think and act differently than how you have been. This re-programs the subconscious mind into believing that the threats you faced as a child no longer are present. When safety is projected regularly health anxiety becomes a thing of the past.
Here are some verbal actions that you can begin replacing starting today:
In conclusion, a good health anxiety treatment plan must consider Reframing (cutting the anchors from the past that are holding you back), replacing Core Beliefs starting with the proper mindset daily (calm awareness), as well as replacement perceptions and actions in the moment they are required.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to learn more about all these important aspects of healing health anxiety.
Health anxiety isn’t a life sentence if you don’t want it to be. We can begin learning the lessons that are bodies are looking to teach us and reach a point where we truly feel like a re-birth is happening. So open your heart up to healing and begin following a structure that will bring you to where you deserve to be on the inside, and out.