How to Worry Less
The reality: Everyone worries about illness now and then, and as you move into middle age, you’re more likely to have unfamiliar aches and pains.
You’re most vulnerable if: You’ve observed important people in your life becoming ill or overreacting to illness. If you have had a troubled health history, you may be more likely to overthink your health.
What to do: Get a thorough checkup to determine if you’re in good health, and bring any legitimate symptoms to your doctor’s attention. Then focus on the positive things you can do for yourself, like improving your diet and other habits.
It has gone too far when: Your doctor repeatedly assures you that you don’t have the illness you fear and you continue to fret anyway, or you suffer from disease-of-the-month syndrome (you’re convinced you have whatever disease is in the news). In these cases, your fears may be unhealthy, says Taylor. If reasonable measures don’t help and your health worries are taking over your life, seek professional advice. For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy, which seeks to identify and change distorted patterns of thinking, can help people change their faulty thought processes and their responses to bodily sensations.