Health anxiety, which used to be called hypochondriasis, is where people have an overwhelming fear or conviction that they have symptoms of a serious illness, such as cancer. Around five to ten thousand people in Cornwall will have this problem.
Life is a journey with ups and downs. But our brains tend to focus on the downs. That’s because we have evolved to spot potential danger. So we see the downs more quickly and think longer and harder about them.
Interestingly, psychological research tells us that we can develop some habits that train our brains to become better at noticing the positives in our life. Here are three two-minute exercises to practice, as described by Harvard psychologist, Shawn Achor.
Anxiety problems affect one in ten of us, and can play havoc with living a normal life. So, it isn’t a surprise to hear that many people with anxiety problems are worried that they may pass this problem onto their children. They know only too well the distress it causes, and the last thing they want is to see their children ‘copying’ their fears. Unfortunately, this fear is grounded in reality. Sadly, more than half of anxiety sufferers go on to have children who develop similar difficulties.
We often hear about acts of forgiveness on the news. Some extraordinary people proclaim forgiveness for others who have committed heinous crimes against them. Forgiveness appears to be a noble and deeply moral thing to do. And then there’s also a lot of psychological research saying that forgiveness is associated with better physical and mental health and lower levels of depression. Which is all fine and dandy until you have someone you personally have to forgive!
“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world”. This famous line from the Desiderata illustrates the fairly obvious point that the world can be seen in positive or negative ways. Which one do you tend to focus on? Well, many of us often tend to focus on the negative. So, ask someone how they are and they will often tell you how busy they are, or how tired they are, or their latest crisis.
Research has shown that the first three minutes of conversation with your partner will pretty much guarantee how it will end. Start off with all guns blazing and you are likely to have a pretty heated argument that is destined to end badly. Psychologists call this a “Harsh Startup”. In the harsh start-up we go from nought to sixty in five seconds flat and it generally involves some sort of criticism or sarcasm.
According to a national report published last week by the Scientific Advisory Body on Nutrition, a great many of us have worryingly low levels of Vitamin D. This is a problem for one in five adults and one in six children. Vitamin D has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Low levels are associated with a number of physical conditions, including cardio-vascular problems, obesity, cancer and osteoporosis. It is also starting to become linked with depression, although at the moment we aren't sure if low levels of Vitamin D are a cause or an effect of being depressed.
We all know, but tend to forget, that just because we are not sick or ill, this does not mean that we are physically fit and healthy. It’s exactly the same when it comes to our mental health. Having good mental health usually involves having the resilience to deal with life’s slings and arrows, and to experience a sense of purpose and positive well-being. Psychologists call this positive state of mental well-being ‘thriving’ or ‘flourishing’.