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Keeping Your Anxiety In Check At The Doctors Office

When you’re struggling with anxiety issues, even the most basic of day to day tasks can be difficult. But when you’re trying to do things that are already hard, your anxiety can make them almost impossible. Nobody likes going to the doctor and it’s always going to make you a little nervous, especially if you’re looking for advice on a sensitive or very personal problem. For people with anxiety, those worries are magnified tenfold and the idea of going to the doctor can be terrifying.

The problem is, neglecting visits to the doctor could put your physical health at risk and worrying about your health issues will only make your anxiety worse. It’ll create a spiral and both your mental and physical health will suffer. That’s why it’s important that you try to overcome those anxieties around going to the doctor and, although that’s going to be hard, there are some things you need to remember and some techniques that you can try.

Understand Your Anxiety

The first step to overcoming your worries about seeing a doctor is understanding where they come from in the first place. For some people, spending a long time in the waiting room is the problem. The idea of sitting in an unfamiliar location surrounded by strangers, all of whom are ill, might bring on a lot of anxiety. The long wait also gives you more time to dwell on what might be wrong and what the doctor might say to you once you get in there. If you’re worried about the wait, try asking when the quietest times for an appointment are when you call up. Unfortunately, most surgeries are busy the majority of the time but you can still go during the day when more people are likely to be at work. You should also make sure to arrive just before the time of your appointment to cut down the amount of time you spend in the waiting room.

Asking for the time off work can be a reason for anxiety around a trip to the doctors as well. If you’re worried that you’re going to have to reveal the details of the problem to your boss, or that they might say no, you should keep in mind that you have a legal right to time off work to see a doctor. You aren’t obliged to tell them the reason for it, and you’ll only be taking the morning or afternoon off work. Unless your boss is completely awful, they aren’t likely to have a problem with it. If you’re especially worried, you can offer to stay late the next day to make up for it. That way, you won’t be missing any hours and your boss will be fine with it.

Another common source of anxiety is feelings of embarrassment around the problem itself, which brings us on to our next point.  

Remember That Doctors Won’t Judge

It’s always embarrassing if you’re going to see a doctor about a sensitive subject like sexual health information because there is still a lot of unnecessary stigma around those things. The worry is that you’ll be embarrassed and the doctor will be judging you for being sexually active or they may think badly of you if you’ve made a mistake with contraception etc. But the thing to remember is that doctors are not the kinds of people that are judgmental or conservative about sex. They understand more than anybody that it’s a natural part of life and their only concern is making sure that you are safe and in good health. The other thing to keep in mind is that most GP’s have been doing this for a long time and they see a lot of patients every single day. Whatever your problem is, you can be pretty sure that they’ve seen it a thousand times before and they’ve probably seen much worse. A health issue that you think is unusual or embarrassing is probably just a routine thing for them.

Doctor-patient confidentiality is the most important concern in the medical profession and any doctor found to be breaking it is likely to lose their license immediately. Whatever you say in that room, unless it’s something deemed to be a serious police matter, stays between you and them. Nobody else will ever find out what is discussed in that room unless you tell them yourself, so you don’t need to worry about being embarrassed in front of your friends and family.

Let The Surgery Know

Doctors have a lot of experience dealing with mental health issues so they will completely understand if you let them know about your concerns when you make the appointment. It’s a difficult conversation for you to have initially but they will be sympathetic to your situation and do what they can to make the whole process easier for you, whether that be cutting down the amount of time that you’re made to wait, or allowing you a bit of extra time on your appointment to meet the doctor and be comfortable with them before they examine you. They’re there to help you deal with all of your health problems, whether they’re physical or mental.

Take Somebody With You

This might sound like something you don’t want to do, especially if one of your main concerns is people finding out about a sensitive health problem that you’re having. But having somebody that you trust go along with you can really help you to stay calm. If you don’t want them to know what it is that you’re going to the doctor for, that’s fine. You can just tell them that you need to go and you’re anxious about it, but you don’t want to tell them what the problem is. They’ll understand and they’ll be willing to help you. Doctors are very accommodating when it comes to having friends and family come in with you so if you aren’t worried about the nature of the problem itself, just the experience of seeing the doctor, you can always have somebody there during the examination to help calm your nerves.

Distract Yourself

When you’re sat in the doctor's office, thinking about what’s going to happen once you get back there, you’re going to get more and more anxious about it. The key to keeping those anxieties under control is to distract yourself from the situation until it’s time to be seen. You can do that in any way that you like. Bring some headphones and listen to relaxing music or bring a puzzle or a crossword to do. Read a book, do some knitting, play games on your phone. Whatever activity calms you and takes your mind off things, bring it along so you can do it in the waiting room. It’ll stop you from fixating on the potential outcome of the visit and it’ll make the wait time go a lot faster as well.

Stress Management Techniques

Even if you bring something to occupy yourself, you won’t be able to remove yourself from the situation completely. If your anxiety gets too bad, you might be tempted to get up and leave. While you might feel better for getting out of a place that’s causing you so much worry, it’ll only increase your anxiety later on because you still need to go to the doctor and you’ll be upset with yourself for leaving like that. When things start to get too much, you need to use techniques to calm yourself and control your anxiety until it’s time for the doctor to see you.

Controlled breathing techniques are a good way to stay calm. Breathe deeply and hold it while you count to 3 and then exhale for another 3 seconds. Repeat this over and over and focus on the breathing. It’ll help you to calm down and shut out the situation that’s causing you to worry in the first place.

Exercise First

Exercise has proven incredibly effective for reducing the effects of anxiety and depression which is why doctors all recommend it. It releases endorphins and reduces stress hormones which can help you to keep your anxiety under control. On the morning of your visit to the doctor’s, you’re likely to be experiencing a lot of anxiety. If you leave it, it will only build the closer you get to the surgery. Consider going for a run or even doing an exercise video at home right before you go, it’ll leave you feeling refreshed and hopefully get rid of some of your anxiety for a while, making the whole process a lot easier for you.

You’re never going to get rid of that anxiety completely, it’s always going to be hard but that’s okay. What you’ve got to remember is that things will only get worse if you keep putting that visit off. Your anxiety around your health will only get worse and you put your physical health at risk as well by neglecting a visit to the doctor.

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