Nowadays, the impact of anxiety disorders on individuals’ well-being is both pervasive and profound. Among the array of anxiety disorders, health anxiety stands out as a particularly challenging condition. It is characterised by excessive worry and preoccupation with one’s health, often leading individuals to interpret normal bodily sensations as alarming symptoms of severe illnesses. These health anxiety disorders can manifest at any point in a person’s life but frequently emerge before the age of 30, affecting a substantial portion of the adult population, with estimates ranging from 5% to 7%. As the burden of health anxiety continues to grow, the need for effective resources to help those afflicted is undeniable.
In this review, we will explore The Health Anxiety Workbook by Taylor M. Ham. This book is an invaluable resource for confronting the complex issue of health anxiety head-on.
Taylor M. Ham, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and holds a Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP) certification.
Her dedication lies in assisting clients in achieving their optimal well-being and cultivating harmonious, meaningful connections with their loved ones. Taylor firmly advocates for the profound impact of self-awareness and mindfulness, aspiring to contribute towards creating a more improved and anxiety-reducing world.
What is the book about?
The Health Anxiety Workbook by Taylor M. Ham offers a practical and insightful guide for those dealing with excessive health-related concerns that disrupt their peace and well-being. Through this workbook, readers will delve into the origins of extreme health anxieties and discover effective techniques to regain control over their lives.
The book employs a variety of journaling prompts and activities to help individuals manage stress, overcome intrusive thoughts, and develop a more positive perspective on their health and bodies. Taylor M. Ham draws upon cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a widely respected approach in health anxiety treatment, as well as mindfulness practices and other evidence-based methods.
Readers will find comfort in knowing they are not alone, as the book includes real-life anecdotes from people who have successfully overcome health anxiety using the strategies outlined within. With the structure and expertise of a therapeutic treatment plan, The Health Anxiety Workbook offers a path to breaking free from excessive health-related worries and achieving a greater sense of peace and happiness.
Table of contents
- CHAPTER 1: Understanding Health Anxiety
- CHAPTER 2: Reducing Your Health Worries
- CHAPTER 3: Examining and Changing Your Thoughts
- CHAPTER 4: Understanding What Your Body Is Telling You
- CHAPTER 5: Overcoming Anxious Behavior Patterns
- CHAPTER 6: Practicing Self-Care
- CHAPTER 7: Keeping Up the Momentum
- About the Author
Three key takeaways from The Health Anxiety Workbook
1You can regain control and peace of mind using mindfulness practice
"A 2020 study in Nature Communications found that human brains produce an estimated 6,200 thoughts per day… Some thoughts, though, are so upsetting that they demand all of your attention. These intrusive thoughts may catch you off guard, like an unexpected trapdoor, and activate your fight-or-flight response."
In dealing with intrusive thoughts, it is essential to recognise that these thoughts are a common part of daily life, with our brains generating thousands of them daily. For individuals with health anxiety, these intrusive thoughts can trigger a false alarm, activating the fight-or-flight response even when there’s no real danger. To address these thoughts, it’s crucial to acknowledge them without letting them take control. One helpful mindfulness practice is ‘Leaves on a Stream,’ where you visualise placing your thoughts on leaves and watching them float away like leaves in a stream. Consistent practice of this technique can help you detach from intrusive thoughts and regain control over your mental well-being.
2By asking yourself ‘What am I feeling?’, you can navigate bodily sensations and manage related worries
Our bodies naturally produce various physical sensations throughout the day, and it’s normal to experience a range of feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant. However, for individuals dealing with health anxiety, the excessive focus on these bodily sensations can lead to worries and misinterpretations. This heightened attention to physical experiences can cause even commonplace sensations to become perceived as threats, amplifying anxiety.
To address this issue, the author provides a range of exercises that aim to help readers identify the origin of physical sensation. ‘What Is This I’m Feeling?’ provides a checklist of common bodily sensations that individuals may have experienced and encourages them to mark any symptom that has caused them concern. It underscores that these sensations can sometimes resemble symptoms of anxiety-provoking medical conditions found through online searches. However, it also highlights that these same sensations are often associated with everyday bodily functions, stress, and anxiety. The key message is that seeking medical evaluation is the initial step to rule out any underlying health issues. Once a medical professional confirms good physical health, individuals can then consider the possibility that stress or anxiety may be contributing to their physical sensations.
3Self-care plays a big part in our ability to regain control over anxiety
Health anxiety often shifts our focus away from the present moment, replacing it with a perception of reality that is more threatening and uncontrollable. This mindset is driven by an ‘external locus of control,’ where individuals feel that external factors largely dictate the outcomes in their lives, leading to higher rates of anxiety and depression. In contrast, an ‘internal locus of control’ empowers individuals to believe in their ability to influence their life circumstances, making them better equipped to manage stress and adapt.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals regain control over their anxious thoughts and feelings by shifting their locus of control inward, ultimately enhancing their ability to cope with anxiety. Self-care, a fundamental aspect of well-being, plays a vital role in this process. While self-care may have trendy associations, it is essentially about preserving one’s health and well-being by identifying personal needs and taking steps to meet them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care, and simple practices, such as getting adequate sleep, setting boundaries, engaging in hobbies, and maintaining routines, can have a profound impact on mental health.
Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews
The book’s clarity and simplicity make complex concepts easy to grasp, aided by visual aids and exercises with clear instructions.
Real-life stories from individuals who have successfully dealt with health anxiety add a relatable and encouraging dimension to the book.
The inclusion of practical exercises and activities in the book enhances the learning experience, making it more interactive and actionable.
The main emphasis of the book lies in providing techniques to conquer health anxiety. Those who seek a deeper exploration of the scientific aspects of anxiety might not find this book as relevant.
Best quotes from The Health Anxiety Workbook
“Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment that has proven effective in treating health anxiety. Whether you work on your own or with a therapist, CBT can help you identify and challenge problematic thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more helpful alternatives.”
“Your thoughts create your emotions; therefore, your emotions cannot prove that your thoughts are accurate. Unpleasant feelings merely indicate that you are thinking something negative and believing it.”
“Routine itself can be an important form of self-care. Many people felt the influence of a disrupted routine on their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. With offices closed and social options limited, I observed that many of my clients were suddenly experiencing physical and emotional dysregulation, even if they had never struggled with anxiety before. Interestingly, other clients found that the radical lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic gave them space to practice the self-care they needed to support their physical and emotional health.”
Taylor M. Ham’s The Health Anxiety Workbook provides practical tools and exercises to regain control over health anxiety. With a clear and accessible writing style, this workbook demystifies complex concepts, making them easy to understand with the help of visual aids and well-structured exercises. Real-life stories from those who have conquered health anxiety add a relatable dimension to the book, inspiring hope and confidence.
Overall, this workbook is an essential guide for anyone looking to manage their health anxiety and achieve greater peace and happiness in their lives.
Where to buy
You may purchase The Health Anxiety Workbook on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.
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