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Healthcare Phobia, and 3 Ways to Overcome it

Healthcare Phobia, and 3 Ways to Overcome it

Keeping in check with proper healthcare is vital to long lasting good health. Yet fear and phobia of healthcare is quite common among many people. Whether it’s a yearly routine check-up with your general practitioner, a regular dental check-up, or going in for an examination on any abnormal symptoms that have just been discovered, it’s important to overcome this phobia and make it a point to visit your doctor to prevent a long-term future illness.

Unfortunately, healthcare phobia, or the correct medical term ‘Tomophobia’, is a common anxiety disorder, and sufferers of this disorder fear seeking much needed medical attention. This fear will delay treatment of perhaps a serious or life threatening condition. As a result, their condition could worsen.

This delay in treatment will increase stress and in turn further increase their symptoms resulting in a negative cycle. Studies have shown that stress releases a hormone called cortisol, and with prolonged stress this increase of cortisol will suppress the production of certain cells called Lymphatic-t cells, and NK cells which fight against diseases such as cancer, and will weaken your immune system.

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According to ‘The Psychology of Health and Healthcare’, (Poole, Matheson, Cox, 2012) there are various levels of delay between acknowledging that something is medically wrong and actually seeking medical attention.

The ‘appraisal delay‘ occurs in the time it takes to realize what they are experiencing is a symptom.  The ‘illness delay‘ is the time they take to acknowledge they are ill and deciding to seek medical heathcare. The ‘behavioural delay‘ is the time it takes to actually make the call to their doctor’s office, and the ‘medical delay‘ is the time period the patient must wait for their first appointment.

Studies have found those suffering from personal problems, those who believe they cannot be cured, and those who have lived with the symptom for a long period of time, have the highest rate of delay in seeking required care. While noting this, it’s also very important not to ignore those long-term symptoms…. as they need to be examined, especially if it’s been long-term.

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In fact, many people will seek medical advice on their newer symptoms but ignore older ones due to the fact that they have had them for so long. Does that by chance sound familiar?

Another obstacle preventing patients from treatment is ‘Adherence to Medical Advice‘. For example, they’ve visited their medical practitioner, but for various reasons did not follow through with the medical advice given, or they have altered that advice to fit in with their own plans or schedule. Not following medical advice is quite common and another obstacle in prevention treatment.

Most of the time, these delays are a result of Tomophobia, and this phobia has recently been acknowledged as a disorder. The following forms of treatment are now available.

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1. Hypnosis and Systematic Desensitization

This is used to treat dental phobia, and works well in alleviating fear of the unknown. The patient will imagine the scenario through this systematic desensitization, and thus have a greater comfort level going into their appointment. This form of hypnosis can be successful in teaching the patient to transport themselves to a more meditative state during the procedure.

2. Self Injection Anxiety Therapy (SIAS)

Blood-Injection-Injury Phobia‘ is a classified psychological disorder that includes intense fear of blood, injury, needle injection and invasive medical procedures. SIAS has been found to be very successful in relieving some of the anxiety with relaxation techniques during an easy introduction to the tip of a needle.

3. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This form of therapy helps with these phobias as it focuses on a new and more appropriate thought process. The patients are asked to question their own maladaptive thinking and to challenge their negative thoughts, replacing them with new and more productive thoughts. This can be beneficial in the long-term because once the new thought process takes over and replaces the old one, it usually lasts.

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Seeking medical attention when you first discover a new symptom and following the exact instructions of your healthcare provider will benefit your health greatly in the prevention of a possible illness. If you can relate to any of the examples in this article then these treatments could help you improve your own personal healthcare routine, and in turn could improve your lifestyle and even possibly extend life longevity!

Featured photo credit: Brogan & Partners via flickr.com

More by this author

Kathleen Lum

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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