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  • Writer's pictureKyle Ross

How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts about Health

If you'd prefer to watch a video on this topic - it's longer but more detailed.


Introduction


Hello there, my name is Kyle and I'm a certified clinical hypnotherapist and a master NLP practitioner. In today's blog, I'm going to be sharing with you some tips, tricks, strategies, insights, and techniques that you can use to help you manage your intrusive thoughts about health anxiety when they arise. If that sounds good to you, then there's going to be a lot in this blog for you, so I hope you enjoy. Without further ado, let's get started.


Understanding Health Anxiety and Intrusive Thoughts


What is Health Anxiety?


Health anxiety, in essence, is feeling anxious about one's health. It could be being worried about being seriously ill or worrying about underlying and deeper-rooted fears. Anything around health that makes you feel anxious is what health anxiety is.


What are Intrusive Thoughts?


Intrusive thoughts are those thoughts that you don't want to have, and the more you try to not have them, the more they tend to come back. It feels like the brain is on repeat and it can't get these thoughts out of the mind. That's why they're intrusive because they overstay their welcome.


Insights About the Mind


The Mind’s Perception


One thing about the mind that I share with my clients is that the mind does not know the difference between what is good and what is bad; it only knows what is happening in the present moment. You might be asking, what do I mean by this? The mind only knows what is. If you are having an intrusive thought about health anxiety, such as thinking, "I hope I'm not becoming seriously ill," all the mind recognizes is "I hope I'm becoming seriously ill" or "I'm seriously ill." It doesn't hear the "not." The mind only knows what is, and what is good or bad is decided by you. You are not just your thoughts; they are a part of you, not who you are. Knowing this, and knowing that the mind doesn't know the difference between good and bad, we can use this to create some space between the intrusive thoughts and gain further understanding.


What the mind LOVES


Knowing this, and knowing that the mind doesn't know the difference between good and bad, we can use this to create some space between the intrusive thoughts and gain further understanding. The mind loves two things: familiarity and closure. The mind loves familiarity because it's how we've evolved; the brain finds something to do, completes the habit, and repeats it. The mind also loves closure; it wants to complete patterns. Unfortunately, this can contribute to health anxiety and intrusive thoughts because the mind seeks out familiarity and closure more than anything else. Even though you may perceive health anxiety as a bad thing, your mind from an evolutionary point of view is actually doing its job.


Strategies & Insights to Combat Intrusive Thoughts


Interrupt the Pattern


If you can interrupt the pattern and create something new that's familiar, it stops the wheels in their tracks. The brain has to consider something new, giving you more control over having a choice. A CBT technique you can use involves writing down the intrusive thought and then asking yourself five questions:


  • Is this thought true?

  • Is it absolutely true?

  • How does it make me feel?

  • How does it make me act?

  • Take the complete opposite of the intrusive thought and ask yourself if that is true.


The Health Anxiety Cycle


Think of it like a wheel on a bike with three sections: thoughts, feelings (symptoms), and underlying fear. To break the cycle, become curious about the thoughts and symptoms. Change what the symptom means to you. For example, instead of thinking "I'm having a heart attack," change it to "What if it's just heartburn?" or "Maybe I'm just sore from a run."


Change Your Relationship with the Thoughts


Change your interpretation of the thoughts. For example, sing the worrying thought to yourself or shout it out like a commander. This can change the way you think and feel about the thought, breaking the habit and bringing awareness into the present moment.


Think of it like this - the intrusive thoughts glue themselves to a symptom or feeling, when you have them, theres a level of discomfort, and it makes you feel a certain way. When you sing the intrusive thought, or shout it like a commander, you change the experience in a way that changes the feeling that comes with the intrusive thought. Often making them be less intrusive.


Conclusion


Remember, intrusive thoughts are automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). Bringing consciousness and awareness to them can help change the narrative. If you think your way into health anxiety, you can think your way out of it.


Theres some tips, tricks, strategies, and insights to help you overcome your intrusive thoughts about health anxiety. I encourage you to try these techniques and let me know in the comments or on social media how you get on.


If you want to work with a therapist to address deeper layers of health anxiety, I offer a free consultation call where we can discuss a tailored solution for you. If that sounds interesting, there's a link to my booking page here. Otherwise, I hope you found value in this blog and have a great day or evening wherever you are. Take care.

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