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Anxious About Your Health

Are you anxious about your health? Many of us are.
We want to live life to the full and make the most out of each day. Deep down we know that we matter. We’re here for a purpose and our lives have a significance far beyond what we can fully grasp. But sometimes health concerns threaten to derail us and suck the joy out of life.
Every day we get older, and things aren’t the way they used to be. Healthcare is changing rapidly, and we wonder how much more change is down the road. What will happen? Will we be taken care of? How are we going to afford all of this?
On top of this, we live in an anxious world. Some sociologists are calling this “the new age of anxiety.” Fear and uncertainty are everywhere. The sheer amount of information flooding in upon us is enough to elevate our blood pressure.
So we have reason to be anxious, and anxiety is a powerful thing. Sometimes it strikes suddenly and without warning. Other times it sits patiently on our shoulder, waiting for an opportunity to flex its muscles and hijack our emotions. It can darken the most beautiful of days.
Anxiety itself has become a health condition.
How do we deal with it? What can we do?
First, we need to be honest about our anxiety.
Typically, we go into avoidance mode. We try to run from anxiety by ignoring it, but it stubbornly refuses to be buried. It ricochets around inside us, creating all kinds of havoc. It seems determined to be expressed, one way or another.
Unfortunately, many of us equate anxiety with weakness. We like to appear confident and self-assured, and that nagging internal nervousness can be, well, embarrassing. Anxiety is a natural physical-emotional response to certain stressors. We all get anxious.
What if we faced it instead? Simply saying, “I feel anxious,” can be very positive. Accepting what we’re feeling can help take the edge off. Trying to not be anxious only fuels the fire and increases the anxiety.
We need to be patient with ourselves as we deal with challenging stressors in life. Part of being kind to ourselves is recognizing and accepting when we’re anxious.
Second, we need to take action.
Wondering what to do often increases anxiety, while simply doing something constructive can ease it.
There are a number of ways we can take action. Meditating on a helpful, positive thought can slow the mental spinning anxiety often generates. Faith can play a large role, as many handle worry with prayer or a comforting religious ritual.
We can reach out to someone – a family member, friend, or mentor. Engaging with other people is often a quick way to unplug the fear. Some people simply acknowledge they’re anxious and then move on by doing something they enjoy.
Taking action helps derail the anxiety train and move us toward what we all want – peace of mind.
Third, we need to involve someone who has the power to help us.
When it comes to our health, this is most likely a health care professional such as a doctor, nurse, nutritionist, or counselor. Reaching out to a professional we trust and asking the questions that are plaguing us can bring an enormous amount of relief. This takes courage and persistence, but it’s worth it.
If the issue is less serious, a friend or relative whom we greatly respect can help bring perspective when our emotions get out-of-whack. We all have trouble seeing ourselves and situations accurately. Getting the input of those who know and care about us can have a huge, positive impact.
Many times all we need is reassurance. But when something needs to be done, we need someone who can help us develop a plan of care and decide what to do next. Trying to figure it out alone is a sure prescription for increased anxiety.
So the next time you find yourself anxious about your health, try these three steps:
1. Be honest and accept that you’re feeling anxious.
2. Take some form of simple action.
3. Involve someone who has the power to help you.
And remember, you’re not alone. We’re in this together, and together we can handle it. Peace of mind is right around the corner.

Gary Roe is a chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. You can contact him at groe@hospicebrazosvalley.org or visit www.garyroe.com.