There comes a time in everyone’s life that they become overanxious about their health. Maybe it is after the death of a loved one or even after the trauma of a pandemic when we were worried about the death of family or friends or even ourselves. There are loads of ways to feed this compulsion since during the last 2 years the media and social media had the wits scared out of us with graphic stories of sadness. Internet access means we have access to ‘Googling’ our symptoms, which just heightens our anxiety. Planting a seed of fear which grows and grows, click by click.
In the old days people with health anxiety were referred to as hypochondriacs but nowadays the NHS look at health anxiety as a very real fear. It is more than the normal fear that all of us have as health anxiety is when people spend so much time worrying that they can get physically unwell, and fear starts to take over their lives. It is an irrational fear that really can’t be controlled. Early warning signs are constant worry about health or asking people for assurance that you aren’t ill. It has no respect for age or social class. ‘ A man’s heart weighs him down but a good word makes him glad’. Proverbs 12:25. All of it results in taking the joy out of life and it can ruin relationships or working lives with thoughts like what if I have a serious illness and what if the doctor missed something?
It is normal to have a constructive health concern. You are caring for the body God gave you, but scripture encourages us ‘not to be anxious about anything’ Phil 4:6 and ‘to cast all our anxieties on Him because he cares for you’, 1 Peter 5:7. All this takes a sense of letting go and looking to God to take our worries away. As Colossians says, ‘set your affection on the things above not on the things on earth’. Remember God has every hair on our head counted and loves us unconditionally and beyond compare.
The surrendering of our problems particularly if we are haunted by health anxiety is a journey. It is good to know that if we change our pattern of life, we can feel better. The powerful role of God’s love encourages us to live a fearless, healthy and wholesome life, there has to be a point of surrender. If you suffer from health anxiety, then you are not alone and the percentage is rising particularly among those working from home and with access to online resources which feed their fear. If you think you are one of the well and worried then, let God in, let family and health professionals in and above all, stop ‘Googling’. Call into the Cathedral, light a candle and spend a little time with God.
The SMA Novena in honour of St Therese of the Child Jesus will be open to the public in Dromantine. The Novena begins on Friday 23rd September to Saturday 1st October. Masses and Novena prayers at 10.00am and 7.30pm