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Ask Vanessa: Coping with Pre-Surgery Anxiety

Vanessa Valerio

Mental Health

Nov 24, 2023

4 min read

Dear Vanessa,

I will have surgery next month. What steps would you recommend to reduce my anxiety? Thank you.

- Melissa

Dear Melissa,

Preparing for surgery can relieve anxiety. Get information early on to understand your health problem and the process of the surgery. See your doctor and hospital as resources and be ready with your concerns. Talk to others who have had the surgery. Know what to expect after surgery. It pays to research your health insurance questions now. Begin your inquiry early to avoid the emotional strain of having to deal with insurance problems when you are in the post-operative state. Visualize a positive outcome. Learn how to calm and relax yourself; studies have shown that deep relaxation relieves some unresolved tension and stress and improves our immune system. Relaxing music and tapes can have the same effect. If you have a normal stress reduction routine, it should help with surgical anxiety.

Most surgeons and hospitals have a pre-admission program where you will be tested before surgery. It is important to get your body in shape--the healthier it is going in, the faster it can heal. Increasing your workouts or yoga sessions won’t hurt but be sure to consult with your physician. Evaluate your diet; eating more protein and fiber, and less processed junk food will help. Disclose to your health- care team information about your general medical condition and all the medications and supplements you’ve been taking. If possible, ask for an opportunity to speak with your anesthesiologist. Understanding your options for anesthesia and the advantages of each can help reduce your pre-operative anxiety. Advance directives may also be presented to you; allow plenty of time to go over these forms.

In preparing for surgery, you want to be in an optimal level of wellness to prevent any complications. I recommend a book called “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster”by Peggie Huddleston. This book and Relaxation CD is designed to help you feel calmer before surgery and heal faster. In the days before your surgery, take time each day for spiritual healing and draw upon that Higher Power. Be positive. The mind is a powerful tool in creating health. Seek counseling if your anxiety or fear persists.

Vanessa Valerio


Vanessa Valerio

Chief Operating Officer

Passionate about living life and loving people fully. Has an adventurous spirit and an unusual craving for mangoes. Her mantra: Always be loving and kind.

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