It seems that everyone around you is getting tested recently. It may have been that a coworker, your roommate or your spouse just tested positive. The news has you scrambling for the nearest testing facility and your worries about the worst possible outcome seem to loom over you as the hours pass by.
In this time of uncertainty, it does not take much to push us over the edge. But when our health may be compromised, then it takes our worries to the next level.
Even if you found the closest testing facility, getting the results especially in Florida may take a few days due to the longer turn around times and the high demand for testing. Waiting for the results may seem never ending, in fact many of your family members may receive the results before you which makes the whole process more difficult to manage. You may be asking yourself the following questions:
Am I going crazy? Why do I think that my life depends on these results?
You are not going crazy. In fact, your response is quite normal to this pandemic. You may be experiencing something known as health anxiety. Health anxiety is a normal response when we think that something bad may happen. It is actually a survival skill that has protected us from real life-threatening situations. Health anxiety takes place when we believe that there is an actual threat to our health which will then result in an anxiety response.
I am really worried that I may give it to someone in my family
While you wait for your results, the recommendation from the CDC is to self-isolate. To the extent that it is possible, stay in one room in your house away from other people until you get your results back. It is recommended that you quarantine for a period of 14 days or until your results arrive.
I can’t stop thinking about it. What should I do?
It is normal to experience catastrophic and repetitive thinking when we feel that our health is at risk. Catastrophic thinking refers to the moments when our mind tends to think about the worst case scenario or catastrophe that can take place and then believe that is actually happening to us.
It happens because our alert system goes into overdrive and it keeps sending signals to our brain that we are in imminent danger. One of the downsides that takes place is that we then tend to overestimate the danger that we are in. This kind of anxiety may feel overwhelming and extremely uncomfortable to most people.
A good way to manage catastrophic thinking is to first become aware of your thoughts and to make sense of how they affect how you feel and what you do.
Next, you can ask yourself the following questions to move your thinking away from extremes to help you consider other options.
- What evidence do I have that supports my worst fear?
- What evidence do I have against my worst fear?
- Are there times when this fear has not been true?
- Do I have this kind of fear when I am feeling OK as opposed to feeling sad, angry or anxious?
- What would I tell someone who was having this kind of fear?
- What may be an alternative, more realistic explanation?
Lastly, using calming statements can help you to keep calm while you wait for the results. These may be helpful statements to consider:
“Until I actually get the results, I have to remember that It’s not happening now”–
It is possible that a positive result may occur in the future but it is not happening now. This phrase may help you see that at this moment you are safe.
“No matter what the results are, I can cope with it”–
This statement reminds you of your own inner strength and resources and it helps you meet the challenges that life may bring to you.
“I am healthy and I have been taking the necessary precautions”–
Reminding yourself of all the steps that you have taken to keep yourself healthy during the pandemic may help you lower the fear that you are feeling now.
If you find that despite trying your best to manage your health anxiety, that your symptoms continue to leave you overwhelmed and in panic, please reach out to one of our experienced counselors who can help you develop an effective strategy to manage these symptoms. We are here to help, give us a call today.
Check out our Services page for more information on how to get started.