The internet and health anxiety make a terrible, terrible combination. Beyond reminding yourself over and over again that Google self-diagnoses are not useful and rarely accurate, here are a few steps you can take to combat searching for symptoms and feeding the anxiety:
Exit. Exit. Exit. See that red “x” in the corner of your browser? Click on it. Get away from the internet when you start to feel like you need to look up symptoms. What we are doing by looking up a diagnosis on the web is feeding our anxiety. Anxiety thrives on keeping you under its control and making you think all sorts of negative thoughts. By clicking away from the search for medical symptoms, you are telling the anxiety that you are not going to let it win.
Mindfulness Techniques. Try some guided meditation on one of the handy apps like “HeadSpace,” take a moment of your day and relax. Follow the meditation to notice the breath in your body and the calming sounds of the meditation. Finding time to do this can allow you to put your focus elsewhere and not on looking for symptoms. When you look for symptoms you may start to notice smaller sensations you had not noticed before leading to a preoccupation with bodily sensations which become amplified, which can lead to spiraling into the worry.
Acceptance. Learning to accept that our health is not always in our control is also important. When we accept that sometimes we will get sick and there are treatments in place, we can lead a life without the constant worry that there may be something wrong with us. When we are in constant worry, it affects our day to day life, relationships, work, leisurely activities that you otherwise enjoyed may not have the same pleasure as they used to. Considering what you are missing out on could help you find the motivation to move forward from the worry.
Consider CBT Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is great for treating so many mental health diagnosis. Finding a therapist who is trained in CBT and will help you reframe your worries will be helpful. You can schedule an appointment at Light On Anxiety here.