One of the most stressful things in life is an upended routine, and nothing can disrupt your family’s schedule quite like a surgery. Surgery sometimes increases feelings of strain and pressure for both the patient and the people that love them. Beyond the big picture of health concerns and fears that surgery can cause, little things can add up, too—dishes, chores, leisure and self-care can start to slip through the cracks.
If you’re feeling overstressed, know that it’s common under strenuous occasions like after surgery care. Stress is normally caused by external factors, such as a life event or change in your environment, but it can be exacerbated by internal anxieties and fears. If you feel yourself getting stuck in a stress cycle, here are a few tips to help find some fresh air and minimize discomfort and uncertainty.
One of the perks of returning home postoperatively is that you can enjoy all your favorite healthful comfort foods from the coziness of your own kitchen. One great remedy for stress is enjoying complex carbs such as whole-grains, cereal, oatmeal (bonus if it’s with fruit, nuts and other delicious fixin’s) and pasta. Carbohydrates, especially those found in whole-grain foods, have been shown to quickly boost levels of serotonin which can give you some joy if you’re in a rut. Plus, they’re just delicious and oh so comforting.
Other healthy foods that can help minimize stress are oranges or other Vitamin C heavy foods. The color of oranges, of course, if sure to brighten your day—and Vitamin C has been shown to promote healthy blood pressure and lower high levels of cortisol, which cause stress. Likewise, foods rich in magnesium, like spinach, can potentially decrease stress headaches and curb fatigue.
For late-night snacking, comforting hot teas including chamomile, peppermint and herbal teas can help everyone relax and take a load off. For midnight snack hunger, healthy fats including nuts and avocados can offer a satiated feeling. While it’s common for people to be more hungry while they’re stressed, eating healthy, soothing and filling foods may keep them from going for the Fritos and bean dip.
After surgery in-home care certainly has its perks, but one area patients may struggle is feeling like they’re bringing stress into their home rather than leaving it at the hospital. These are normal feelings, and one way to keep them in check is to encourage relaxation and mindfulness in the home during recovery.
If you’re new to mindfulness and meditation, don’t fret. One simple meditative practice that can help release stress is to find a quiet, cozy seat, close your eyes and turn inward. Some people find that focusing on a mantra helps quiet the world down. One simple mantra that works for many is “All is good.”
By remembering “All is good,” you can redirect trust to the surgeon, the doctors, the nurses, the in-home care providers, and your friends and family. While remembering this, try to breathe for long, full counts of eight. If negative thoughts do enter, acknowledge their presence and move into the next moment of your meditation. Even though everything may feel chaotic and up in the air, you have to remember that all is good and peace will come.
We know what you’re thinking—in times of stress, it’s so much easier to stay inside, be a recluse and hope the dust settles eventually. But you have to do your best to quell that impulse. Recreation is good for everyone, even in small and careful amounts. A walk through the garden, a nice slow swim or even a visit with a favorite furry friend like a dog can do the heart wonders.
If you hire a nurse after surgery, he or she can help hold your family accountable to stay connected and active. Our expert in-home nurses and caregivers can offer companionship, recreation, life enrichment ideas, and more. If you’re ever feeling weighed down by stress, please remember it’s a natural human response and it’s absolutely manageable with the proper support and guidance.