The pandemic has introduced us to two curiously interesting types of people; painfully over-cautious and idiotically fearless. While on one side people were consuming winter kadhas in the scorching summer heat, others were attending protests and rallies, rejecting vaccines, and moving around without masks. As I patiently witnessed all this crazy mayhem from the comfort of my home through social media and television news, I sincerely hoped that God beat some sense into them. However, calls from friends and relatives struck hard by bouts of hypochondria didn’t spare me and, reluctantly, I was gingerly drawn into this superfluous phobia. Why couldn’t they understand that prevention wasn’t hard? I was vigilant but not scared, and it was ok.
Hypochondria is an illness anxiety disorder in which a person considers minor discomfort or physical sensation as an indication of something serious. An insignificant rash, slight pain in the stomach, or a small headache can set alarm bells ringing and make him pop pills or consult experts, sometimes multiple times. Remember the health-obsessed germophobic Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory who won’t even shake hands with anyone? Hypochondriacs display some common tell-tale symptoms which make them easy to identify.
- Get constantly nagged with the thought that they’re suffering from some serious health condition or disease.
- Excessively worry about developing diseases that run in the family.
- Check vitals like blood pressure, blood sugar level, oxygen level, etc, or any other signs of disease repeatedly.
- Frequently browse the internet for symptoms of diseases and self-diagnose while avoiding people, activities, and places fearing health risks.
- Negative doctor results don’t assure or satisfy them, and they tend to be distressed no matter what.
- Either make frequent medical appointments or completely avoid medical care fearing the worst.
Hypochondria may relate to physical health but is predominantly a mental health and anxiety issue. It can disrupt a person’s life by hampering his work performance, burden relationships, and affect the normal functioning of daily activities. Thankfully, like other mental health issues, there are easy ways of handling it.
Divert your attention
Whenever a person feels too consumed by negative thoughts of health or sickness, the best way out is to divert attention. Mind you, it isn’t just about diverting attention; it is about productively getting involved in something. Like:
- Cooking – Get innovative by experimenting with new ingredients and flavours and flaunt your creativity with beautiful plating and presentation.
- Gardening – Nature’s touch heals everything. The touch of soil, the sound of water, colours of leaves and flowers induce positivity like nothing else.
- Exercise – Physical effort often deflects attention. Elevated heartbeat, sweating, and the adrenaline rush after a good exercise can be extremely fulfilling.
- Mental activity – If you’re the indoor type, you can keep your mind prolifically active with crossword and other puzzles.
- Cleaning –Rearrange your wardrobe or jewellery box, change the bedsheets or dust away to glory. The good old way of ‘tidying up the home’ never gets old!
Mindfulness means paying close attention to our thoughts, actions and surroundings in a purposeful way. It is often used in therapy and its exercises can be easily incorporated in our day-to-day life as well.
- Mindful seeing – In this exercise, a person must sit by a window or a place that provides a view and observe colours, patterns, or textures. He must be closely observant but not linger and gently pull himself back to it if he gets distracted.
- Mindful listening – This is a group activity where each participant is encouraged to speak while others listen attentively. After the activity, a healthy discussion about personal feelings of empathy, fear, or judgement takes place.
- Mindful breathing – Right from the air touching the tip of the nose to the rise and fall of the chest as one inhales and exhales, it encourages one to consciously feel every breath. It is an engaging process and helps feel gratitude.
- Five Senses exercise – An object is placed in front of a person, say an apple, and he’s asked to explain and understand it by engaging all his five senses. This improves focus and brings unseen things into perspective.
- Guided meditation – Meditation calms the mind and body and is a good way of letting go of negative thoughts. You can reduce hypochondria and anxiety issues with a guided meditation by using free apps or going through YouTube for relevant videos.
Rearrange your thoughts
Thoughts are not facts, period. Positive or negative, they have the ability to influence the way we feel. Just as constant thoughts of distress might inadvertently lead to it, challenging them with positive ones can slay them too. It’s your mind, you must learn to control it somehow.
Hypochondria can be cured with conscious effort and medical treatment if need be. Any war is won first in the mind and then on the battlefield. The current situation has affected us all but we can’t let our guard down or keep being terrified of it. Right?
This post is part of #CauseAChatter with Blogchatter
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon
© This site A Vibrant Palette is the property of Varsha Bagadia. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Varsha Bagadia and A Vibrant Palette with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.