It is quite common to feel anxious and sometimes depressed after a big surgery, but there are ways to combat this. Here are 7 tips to reduce anxiety after surgery.
Having any type of surgical procedure can be stressful, and it’s very common to have some level of anxiety both before and after surgery. It’s completely normal to be worried before surgery. After all, you might be concerned about whether the surgery will go well, how much pain you’ll have, and so on. Once the procedure is over, however, you might be surprised to still have some anxiety after surgery. This, too, is normal!
The good news is that there are ways you can reduce your anxiety after surgery. Some of the tips will pertain to the time before you have your procedure, and others will be more effective after you are out of the recovery room. Keep reading to learn more about managing stress and anxiety after having surgery.
Get Plenty of Sleep Before Your Procedure
Sleep deprivation is often a contributing cause to anxiety before and after surgery. It can be hard to settle down and fall asleep or stay asleep if you are worried about your procedure or in pain, but talk to your doctor about how you can get better sleep in the days and weeks leading up to your surgery.
Some tips on getting better sleep include following a good bedtime routine, keeping your bedroom cool and comfortable, staying away from electronics for an hour or two before bedtime, and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours.
Plan Your Downtime While You Recover
Chances are good that you will have some period of time after your surgery when you will not be able to meet all of your normal obligations. Setting up your coworkers, boss, children, and family for success now can reduce your anxiety later.
If you have responsibilities at work, talk to those you work with so they can pick up the slack. Talk to your boss about how long you expect to be out, and come up with a plan to cover your work so you aren’t worried about it while you’re gone.
Also, talk to your family members to ensure that there is a plan to take care of children, cook meals, and look after pets. Think about the tasks you manage every day and delegate them to others who will be able to take over.
Plan to spend time at a recovery center such as Pearl Recovery Retreat. This will allow you the time and space to heal while your basic needs are being taken care of.
Gather Information About Your Recovery
Before your surgery, talk to your doctor about what to expect during the recovery process. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different. Even if the average person fully recovers within a set period of time, that does not mean that you necessarily will be. Keeping your expectations realistic will go a long way toward alleviating the anxiety after surgery.
At the same time, ask about what red flags to look for during your recovery. This way, you’ll have a solid plan of what to watch for so you aren’t as worried over every benign twinge or setback.
Stick to a Healthy Diet After Surgery
Eating well will help keep anxiety at bay at any time, and it is particularly important after a surgical procedure. Your body needs a variety of nutrients to heal properly, and you will need healthy calories to increase your energy levels. It’s important to know the best foods to eat after surgery. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, and healthy fats will go a long way toward boosting your energy levels and lowering your anxiety. Try to stay away from empty calories, too much caffeine, excessive alcohol, and a lot of sugar or salt.
At Pearl Recovery Retreat, we provide healthy meals as well as nutritious shakes and juices to keep your energy up while supporting your overall recovery. If you are not able to spend time in a recovery center, plan ahead for healthy meals in the days and weeks following your surgery.
Manage Your Pain Appropriately
Pain can cause a lot of anxiety after surgery, so it’s vital to talk to your medical providers about ways to keep yours under control. Not every surgical procedure will result in severe pain, of course, but it’s still important to manage even mild pain.
Be sure you understand exactly how to use your pain medication and take it exactly as directed. If you are not having your pain managed well with your current prescription, never double up on doses or take them closer together without your doctor’s express directions to do so. Call your doctor and explain how you are feeling so he or she can prescribe safe and effective pain control.
Move and Exercise As Appropriate
Exercise does wonders to alleviate anxiety; unfortunately, after surgery, you will probably not be able to pick up where you left off in your regular exercise routine. Instead, you will need to gradually work up to your regimen. Talk to your doctor or nurse to find out when and how much you should be moving around. After most types of surgery, patients are encouraged to get up and move to prevent complications like constipation and deep vein thrombosis.
As the days turn into weeks, you’ll likely be able to do more and more. Find out from your healthcare professionals what you should be doing and what signs you should watch for that you’re doing too much. Otherwise, enjoy getting back into shape after your surgery and take advantage of the endorphin boost exercise gives you.
Seek Counseling If Needed
If you are struggling with anxiety after surgery and it does not improve with lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor about your mental health. Depression or anxiety can affect your recovery and make you feel less than your best, so it’s important to find ways to control these conditions. Therapy, support groups, and, in some cases, medications can help. If you don’t already have a therapist, ask your primary care provider for a referral or recommendation.
Anxiety is common both before and after surgery, but it doesn’t have to linger or affect your day-to-day life. Try some of the tips outlined below, and if those don’t help, reach out for help.