Here are my top tips to cope with health anxiety:
1. Google - As mentioned in my ten top tips post; do not self diagnose. I know there is a tendency to want to know what's wrong, but please don't. It can lead to the wrong conclusion, and it's highly likely not accurate; it's not a doctor. You'll end up feeling worse and worrying more as a result. It's better to distance yourself from 'Dr. google!'
2. Small Steps - You overcome your fears with a small step at a time. With health anxiety, try and do something you fear every once in a while. For example, when you feel you have stomach cramps - don't use Google. On the other hand, for me; try a food that you would worry that would make you ill. Each step is a step towards winning the battle. Do something you fear would make you ill, and see what happens. Highly likely, nothing will happen.
3. Logic - You are an intelligent human being. You know what will in reality make you ill, and what won't. It just so happens that there is a lack of clarity because of your health anxiety. For example, I feel I am going to be ill every day. But what you have to do is be logical and use your intelligence (easier said than done!) to explain to yourself that you won't be ill. For example, Have you eaten anything funny? No. Are these feelings highly likely from anxiety? Yes. Try and reason with yourself.
4. Focus - My therapist taught me that the more you focus on something, the more you'll notice it. For example, if you focus on your foot for a minute, you'll notice it's quite heavy. In the same way, the more you focus on your stomach cramps and sickness, the worse it will get. Try to think of something else or do something else; sing, dance, talk. Anything to stop your thoughts in their tracks.
5. Past experience - You'll know that from past experience that being ill and having health anxiety are somewhat different; even if it is extremely hard to tell yourself that. The time when you had a stomach bug, will feel different to the symptoms anxiety gives you. Write down your past experiences, as it will help you differentiate between real illness and anxiety induced symptoms.
For the moment, these are my top 5 tips. I may add more in the future. I hope these help you as I know how awful health anxiety can be.