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How to emotionally prepare for a procedure

 

Medical procedures can be scary. Like most stressful situations, it is easy to feel like you have no control. There is one thing you can do, though: Have a strategy for self-care. You’ll want to keep your stress level as low as possible before, during, and after the procedure. Stock your self-care toolkit with these resources:

1. Mindfulness

It is easy to get swept away with the “what ifs” of a procedure. Take a moment to focus on the present moment and your breath.

2. Affirmation

Create a slogan you can say to yourself that feels calming and empowering. Something like, “I can do this,” “All is well,” or “It’s OK.” Practice saying these to yourself while taking a nice deep breath.

3. Deep breathing

Speaking of deep breath, focus on belly breathing. Inhale expanding your stomach, and exhale bringing your belly button back to your spine.

4. Your strengths

Take a moment to think about other scary, difficult experiences you have overcome in your life. Use these examples as a reminder that you are strong and able to overcome any negative thoughts or feelings that sneak in leading up to a medical procedure.

5. Support

Identify friends, family members, groups, pets — anyone who will be there to listen to your nervous thoughts and feelings. Your support system should be a calming presence and serve as a good reminder that you’re not alone.

6. Visual imagery

Practice visualizing yourself after recovery. Think about as many details as possible and focus on what your best self looks like. What are you able to do? How do you feel? These answers should feel personal and include “why” you are taking care of yourself by having this procedure. Maybe it’s so you can keep up with your grandchildren or take a walk outdoors. Whatever the reason, use this “best self” as a motivator.

 

Regardless of the type of medical procedure, it’s important to take time to care for yourself. Practicing one or all of these techniques can lower stress and improve your overall well-being before, during, and after a procedure.