8 ways to reduce your anxiety before surgery
You may be filled with stress, anxiety and fear in the days and weeks leading up to your surgery. Whilst there are many reasons people feel anxious, we have put together a short list of things you can do to help reduce this anxiety.
Avoid Smoking As a Response to Stress and Anxiety
Many people turn to smoking with greater frequency when they feel nervous, anxious and uncertain. Unfortunately, smoking is not only bad for your overall health, but it can have an adverse effect on both your surgery and your recovery period, with longer healing times on your wounds. Consider starting quitting smoking ahead of surgery (even if just for a few weeks) to reduce your risks of developing smoking-related or exacerbated complications.
Learn more about your surgery
The more you know about your medical condition and the surgery you’re having, the better you’ll feel about having the operation. Pay close attention to information about success rates and why you need the surgery. For instance, if you focus on how much better you’re likely to feel and all the things you’ll be able to do after having surgery and it may help reduce the negative feelings associated with the fear of that surgery.
Discuss Your Fears With Your Surgeon
With some surgeries, it’s possible the surgeon can help you with fears and anxieties related to the operation by offering medication to soothe and calm you. Also, discussing your fears with your surgeon allows you the opportunity to build a trusting relationship and bond, which can be crucial if some of your fears stem from the potential for surgical errors or a lack of trust in your surgeon. The more opportunities you give your surgeon to earn your trust, the easier it becomes to put some of your fears to rest.
Focus on your Pre-Surgery Instructions
Sometimes it’s as simple as filling your mind with other tasks to do and other things to think about. If you’re focusing on the things you need to do to get ready for your surgery and marking items off your “to do” list, then you’re too busy to allow these fears and worries an opportunity to build up. It can be small tasks and thoughts, such as:
- Packing your bag and making sure you have the right items to bring along.
- Preparing a “recovery area” in your home where you can get in and out of bed easily.
- Putting all the necessary items to aid in your recovery close at hand, such as mobile device chargers, television remotes, facial tissues, water bottles, books, extra pillows and healthy snacks.
- Arranging for rides to and from the surgery and having someone on hand to assist you with day-to-day jobs and activities.
Get Support From Family and Friends
Support comes in all shapes and sizes and can be found in a few surprising places. Family and friends can be your best resource when it comes to overcoming being nervous before surgery. Ask for their own funny surgery stories and gentle reminders that they’ve been there and had outcomes that were very positive.
Have Your Post-Operative Plan in Place
This may help calm your feelings of being nervous before surgery simply because it’s one more thing you’ve managed to mark off your list of things to do. Knowing what’s coming next will also help you move, in your mind, beyond thoughts and worries over the surgery itself to what comes next.
Consider Counseling or Therapy
Some people fear surgery anxiety may be too minor or not important enough for therapy. But when dealing with the side effects of stress before surgery, therapy or counselling might help. Whether you’ve been recommended for Mastectomy a Inguinal Hernia Repair or a Colonoscopy counseling can help you overcome the fear so you can get the treatment and relief you so desperately need. You could consider cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety.
Seek Alternative Therapies for Anxiety
While surgery may be the only treatment option for certain conditions, therapy isn’t the only treatment option available for people who are nervous before surgery. In fact, many great alternative medicine treatments offer promise for surgical-related anxiety, including:
- Yoga: Yoga has been used for stress relief for centuries as it involves various physical poses, relaxation, controlled breathing and meditation to help reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress.
- Hypnosis: Individuals and clinicians have used hypnosis as a tool for many things over the years, including stress reduction, smoking cessation, weight loss and more.
- Acupuncture: A study conducted at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies revealed biological proof that acupuncture relieves stress.
- Massage: Massage is one of the first thoughts that comes to mind, for many people, when it comes to stress relief. Anxiety relief is no different. Massage can be an excellent, not to mention relaxing, tool to help you prepare for surgery.
- Tapping: Also referred to as EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, tapping combines the use of acupressure and psychology to help reduce stress cortisol and send calming signals to the amygdala of your brain.
- Acupressure: Another ancient Chinese art known to help relieve anxiety and reduce the likelihood of panic attacks is acupressure.
- Mindful meditation: This very simple meditation involves focusing on your breathing and your thoughts. You learn your thoughts come and go of their own accord, and, most importantly, that you’re not your thoughts.