7 tips to help you to manage operation anxiety

Pre-operation anxiety

To be told that you need an operation can cause you to feel anxious. Here are seven tips that will help you prepare for your operation.and may reduce anxiety.  

1. You may want to think about 'pre-op' counselling. You can ask your GP to refer you. You can talk about your concerns and your feelings in a safe non -judgmental space. Your counselor will listen and support you through this time to help you to unburden and manage your fears. Do not forget that talking about how you feel will help you.

2. Use calming self talk: 

  • I will get through this
  • This is for my good.
  • The surgery is for a reason.
  • I will get better.

and breathing techniques to relax.  

This may sound strange, but breathing in this way will help you to calm down. Let us do this now..

Take a moment and breathe in through your nose (count to 6); hold it (count to 2); let the breath out slowly (count to 8). Practise this throughout the day. When you feel anxious, breathe...inhale and exhale as outlined above. The more you do this throughout your day the easier it will be to release your anxious feelings.

3. Ask a friend or family member to attend the appointments with you so that he/she can remember the things that you may forget. This will ensure that you do not miss important details. This may be obvious, but because you may feel anxious you may not hear everything that your doctor is saying. Ask your friend or family member if they can take notes (let the doctor know about the note taking and explain why you are doing this) - it will help your doctor to relax and the doctor will be fine with this.  

4. Ask the doctor to repeat or explain anything that you do not understand. If there are difficult words, write them down so that you or your friend can look them up later. Be assertive but polite.  

5. Write down the questions you want to ask and ASK each question. Wait for the answer - do not feel intimated because the doctor is in authority. It is your body and you must therefore have complete knowledge and understanding of the surgery and post operation support.  

Questions you may want to ask

i. What is my specific diagnosis? 

ii. What are my treatment options? 

iii. Why do I need this operation? 

iv. Is there an alternative treatment option? 

v. How will the operation be performed? 

vi. What is the expected recovery time? 

vii. What are the possible side effects? 

viii. Should I bring my medication with me?  

ix. What are the risks, benefits or possible complications of this operation? 

x. Can you tell me about your experience with performing this type of operation? 

xi. What is your success rate and can I contact you if I need to ask anymore questions?

Do not hesitate to ask more questions if you need to. It is your body and your doctor will not mind.

6. If possible, arrange for a friend or family member to be with you when you come around after the operation as it can be daunting if you are alone. If this is not possible, ensure that you have things around you like family photographs, books, bible etc that can make you feel as comfortable as you can. 

7. It is OK to ask the nurse at the hospital to inform the befriending volunteer to visit you and support you whilst you are in hospital.   

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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