Star columnist: Mary Wren - What is the real problem?

UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.''Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.

UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.''Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.

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So many people seem to worry about their health these days. I seem to spend much of my time trying to persuade people they are not ill, rather than helping those who are.

I can spend 20 minutes explaining to someone they just have a cold that will get better in a couple of days, or that their tiredness is from working 15 hours a day.

It’s as if they want to have something serious and aren’t happy they are actually well.

Then I see people who Google everything and the answer is always cancer. What is happening to us?

I think it is something to do with control. We live in a society where we can control many things and yet deep down inside we know there is much we can’t control. We are not the supermen and women we would like to be.

Nothing is guaranteed or certain any more. We can be flooded out, our money can disappear in recession and even passenger jets can be shot out of the sky.

There is the threat from Ebola – the feeling that something can just invade our lives and nothing can stop it.

Our foundations are shaking and so we try and pull back what we can. If I can just be reassured about this spot I will be OK.

At its extreme this is hypochondria. A person focuses on one symptom, has all the tests and then is reassured for a short while before focusing on another symptom.

In the end it becomes impossible to reassure and freedom only comes if the root issue is addressed.

It may be unresolved pain or fear or self-hate. Recognising the root is the first step to health.

Now there are times when it is important to check out a spot or a lump, however sometimes we need to recognise that this is not the real problem. So if we are honest about our lack of control what can we do?

We have to come to a place of being at peace in the middle of the mess, choosing to control what we can and leave what we can’t. Many find peace through faith in God, someone bigger than them or their circumstances. Or we can focus on others rather than ourselves. The first step is to recognise what the real problem is and then we can look for an appropriate answer.

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