It’s normal to experience stress or anxiety before a procedure, when recovering, or while in the hospital for treatment. Whether you are expecting short or long-term care, it’s important to reduce stress as much as possible. Higher stress levels can cause or worsen uncomfortable symptoms. In this guide, we will discuss a few methods to help you maintain low stress levels when in the hospital.

Learn More about Stress

The first thing you can do is learn more about stress, anxiety, and how they affect your body and mind. Stress and anxiety are fight-or-flight responses that protect you from danger. People can experience an increase in heart rate or blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, sharper senses, and more. These symptoms are different for everyone, so it’s important to observe the symptoms you experience and what they say about you.

Learning about stress gives you the power to better manage or control your symptoms. It’s important to remember that your doctors and nurses are there to help you get better. Stress is telling your body to be afraid, but your mind has the power to overcome that.

Create a Familiar Atmosphere

Being in the hospital for extended periods can make people feel homesick and restless. Try surrounding yourself with objects from home that bring you comfort. This could be a stuffed animal, a photo, or a sentimental object. Playing music or your favorite movie can help you create a more familiar atmosphere.

You can also bring more familiarity into your space by spending some virtual time with loved ones. Make time to chat with friends and family whether you’re at home or in the hospital. Discussing your concerns with them can offer you emotional relief. Or, you can talk about something else to help take your mind off it for a while.

Keep Yourself Busy

Stress has a way of trapping us in our own thoughts. It’s easy to get wrapped up in an internal dialogue filled with worries and concerns. Whether you’re home or in the hospital, try engaging in activities to distract from your hospital-related fears. This could be reading a book, watching a movie, or mindfully listening to music.

You can also try exercises to help relieve stress and anxiety. This could be practicing mindfulness, meditating, or trying breathing exercises. Don’t feel discouraged if some of these methods don’t work for you–try different things out until you find a routine that brings you a sense of calm. Relaxation exercises can take time to become familiar and routine.  Remember to be patient with yourself.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you have any fears or concerns about your treatment, procedure, or recovery, we encourage you to contact your doctor. Sometimes, unanswered questions about your health and current condition can further exacerbate stress and anxiety. Your care team can help clear up these questions and offer you alternatives and extra measures to make your experience more comfortable.

Your doctor and nurses may also provide some extra assistance to help your anxiety or discomfort. This could be a meeting with a therapist or psychologist, or prescribing a short-term medication to help relax you right before your procedure.

From the Acuity Family, we know how stressful hospital treatments, procedures, and recoveries can be. We pride ourselves on providing our patients and communities with reliable resources to help guide them through experiences in the hospital. If you experience a worsening of symptoms, we encourage you to contact your doctor. We wish you good health before, during, and after your hospital stay.