Welcome to the third post in my “Surviving the Pandemic” blog post series.
This series features posts about the current issues facing lots of us during the recent pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. If you’ve missed the previous posts in this series, check out my post about online learning, and a few tips and tricks to staying “social“.
Today I want to talk about health anxiety- considering what it is, and just how we can make sure we’re looking out for our mental and physical health during these tough times.
I’d like to provide a disclaimer here and say that I am not medical and there is no medical backing behind this post- a lot of it is common-sense, personal experience, or informed by recent research 🙂
What is Health Anxiety?
Health anxiety is a constant preoccupation with your health, such as anxiety about whether you have an illness or condition, or worrying about falling ill. This can be a low-level worry, or it can turn into something more dangerous that may take over someone’s life.
Is Health Anxiety On the Rise?
I read a very interesting article recently about the increase in health anxiety among young people since the start of the pandemic- and a large part of this is due to the rise in conversation about our physical and mental health due to coronavirus. Every little rash or cough is suddenly terrifying to a lot of us- and I can definitely see the correlation between the pandemic and health anxiety.
Everything in the news seems to be about our health- whether it’s the vaccine, the virus itself, or how we’re building our immune system to stay healthy. So it’s not surprising there’s been an increase in health anxiety during the current situation, and it can feel hard to escape the worry of illness during these difficult times.
Tips to Look After Your Physical Health
Health anxiety doesn’t help anyone. Getting obsessed about your health when there’s no need to isn’t going to help your mental health- and stress can even make some symptoms worse.
During the pandemic, there’s so little we can control- especially when it comes to our physical health. And this lack of control doesn’t help anxiety, or worries about illness.
So below I’ve put together 5 simple things you can do to look after yourself during the pandemic- and hopefully help reduce anxiety a little during these tough times
Early on in the pandemic, there were questions about whether vitamin D could help prevent coronavirus. Now this has all been confirmed as speculation at this point, but taking vitamin D has so many benefits for your body and immune system- and if you live in the UK then chances are you’re not getting enough during the winter months.
As with all vitamin supplements, it’s hard to tell how much difference they are making to your overall health, but I like having control over a small part of my health- and I recommend checking out different supplements for your different needs. You can also get vitamin D from the sun and certain foods- but it’s often a hard vitamin to get naturally.
Exercise and Good Food
Eating well definitely doesn’t mean eating healthy all the time- but it’s a great idea to keep your immune system strong by eating healthily when you can- as well as including the occasional treat! During lockdown I’ve tried to take a more active role in my health, doing regular exercise and making conscious choices about what I’m eating.
While it’s perfectly natural to comfort eat or indulge, I also think it’s important to think about what we’re putting in our bodies at the moment- and make sure our immune systems are in a strong position to fight any viruses or infections that might come along.
Staying active is also super important, and staying fit and active can help speed along recovery if you do fall ill.
Improve Your Gut Health
I’ve recently taken steps to improve my gut health, and eating a good amount of probiotics and regulating your gut bacteria can help your digestion and keep your body balanced and healthy- both mentally and physically.
You can manage your gut health by eating foods such as yogurt, fibre, or even taking a probiotic or digestive supplement.
Wash your hands!
I think we’ve all started washing our hands a little more since the start of the pandemic, and it’s one of the easiest ways to look out for your physical health and keep yourself protected during these tough times.
As a rule, try to wash your hands everytime you come back into your house, and use hand sanitiser when you’re out and about.
As things start to open more in the next couple of months, we need to keep protecting ourselves and others- so don’t forget to wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and keep your distance from others.
Speak to a GP
If there’s something that’s bothering you, sometimes a conversation with the GP can put your mind at rest- and double-check whether there is anything to worry about.
I find the NHS website very reassuring for small niggles or worries, and it is the best place to find simple, accurate advice. Do not search symptoms online unless you are using a reputable website such as this, and remember that most things can be treated or or managed if it comes to that!
Stay tuned for the final post in this series, a positive post about hope for the future! How can we start to look forward to things again? Where is there hope for the future? Can we find any positives from this situation?
Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Happy reading x