Feelings of anxiety and stress are normal reactions when a person is diagnosed with a critical illness. In severe diagnosis cases, doctors will undoubtedly recommend their patients to stay in the hospital for a period longer than usual to undergo an intensive treatment regimen.
This type of long-term inpatient care typically lasts for 25 days or more, which means you’ll be confined to a hospital facility for a little less than a month. Though you’ll be staying in a care facility to get treatment, this lengthy period spent inside a hospital room can take a toll on your emotional and mental well-being.
For most people, staying inside a hospital for more than a few hours is enough to stir negative emotions and anxiety. This occurs because people tend to gravitate towards associating hospitals as places where sick people go and not so much a place where people go to heal.
For this reason, many people dread inpatient treatment centers because they find it hard to cope with the physical and emotional challenges that come with it. In order to adjust to these changes, here are some tips you can practice to keep both your physical and emotional health at bay as you heal from an illness:
1. Place Your Belongings in a Travel Bag
Staying in the hospital to get treatment certainly does not feel like a vacation, but preparing everything you’ll need for your hospital stay can come a long way.
As you put together your toiletries and other personal items, designate a travel bag specific for your treatment journey. You can even make it more exciting by purchasing a new one just for this occasion.
In choosing a travel bag, make sure you pick a bag that’s functional as well as attractive. Having a separate hospital bag with all your essentials may also come in handy in cases where you’ll need to come in and out of the hospital.
2. Wear Your Own Clothes
Nothing screams ‘I am sick’ louder than wearing a hospital gown. This is why it’s advisable to bring and wear your own clothes during your confinement.
When you’re in the hospital, it’s relatively easy to get caught up in your treatment and physical health and forget about your sense of self and emotional well-being. But not focusing on your mental health may also disrupt your healing process.
Dressing comfortably and wearing clothes you’re used to can bring a sense of yourself during your hospital stay. Pick out loose clothing as well as zip-up jackets, which require less effort to wear.
3. Use Your Own Toiletries
As you put together your hospital travel bag, include a set of personal items such as toiletries your health care facility may not provide. Though hospitals may supply essential toiletries, bringing your won can help make you feel a little bit more at home.
Here’s a list of things you may consider bringing along with you:
- Face wash
- Dry shampoo
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
You may also want to bring your own pillow and blanket to help make you feel comfortable whenever you get a chance to rest.
4. Determine Your Food Restrictions
If you’re confined in a hospital, chances are your doctor may have prescribed that you stick to a rigid diet, and hospital food isn’t comparable to the type of food you’re used to eating.
If this is the case, ask for permission if a friend or relative can bring you a home-cooked meal that follows your dietary restrictions. Consuming food that you’re used to eating can make your hospital stay a more pleasant experience.
Do note that patients may not be allowed to consume solid food in some cases, so this may not be a viable option depending on your treatment.
5. Decorate Your Room
As mentioned earlier, being inside a hospital room is a constant reminder of your illness. It’s inevitable to want to escape feelings of loneliness and homesickness during your stay in the hospital.
So, before getting confined, bring pictures of your loved ones along with you. Bring a few things that give you happiness each time you look at them. You can also post get-well-soon cards on the wall to help motivate you in your healing journey.
Decorating your room with photographs or posters can also help lighten the mood of an often-gloomy hospital bedroom.
6. Make Your Bed
Though the hospital cleaning crew will make your bed for you, it’s an excellent routine to practice each time you get out of bed.
Making your bed gives you a sense of purpose and responsibility, as small and insignificant as it may seem, and coming back to a well-made bed may also provide a sense of relief during extra difficult days.
7. Stay Entertained
Boredom combined with exhaustion from treatment is the formula for an unpleasant hospital experience. If your doctors allow it, bring your laptop or smartphone with you so you can re-watch your favorite feel-good movies, listen to podcasts, or read e-books.
Do your best to stay entertained during your confinement. Activities are essential to keep you relaxed and sane when inside your hospital room. If reading a book from a screen sounds daunting to you, bring a book or two to help divert your attention.
Since medical staff will frequently make rounds to check up on you, you may not get enough rest at times. Having something you can do inside your hospital room can be an escape from all the vitals and blood drawings you’ll experience when confined in the hospital.
8. Find a Hobby
There are several hobbies you can choose from. If you want to keep your competitive spirit alive, you can ask the medical staff if they have board games available. Playing board games is a great way to stay entertained and get to know your roommate if you have one.
If you like arts and crafts, you can bring a sketchpad or a coloring book with you.
Are you interested in trying something new? Why not learn the art of crocheting, knitting, or quilting? This may be a great time to start learning something new and outside of your comfort zone—something safe for your health, of course. And if a particular hobby doesn’t stick, that’s alright! You have enough time to do other things.
Focusing on a hobby can help keep your mind active and divert your attention from exhaustion brought on by your illness or treatment.
9. Listen to Uplifting Music
Managing stress is crucial in keeping your emotional health at bay while you go through aggressive treatment.
Music has been found to help people manage and change the way they feel. In fact, listening to soothing music can help you relax and reduce anxiety and stress.
Listening to your music of choice is also another way to help bring a sense of yourself.
10. Go Out Every Once in a While
It’s easy to get cooped up in your hospital room because you probably don’t have the energy you used to have. But do your best to get out of your room at least once a day.
Go for a short trip to another part of the hospital to get a change of scenery. This is a great way to help you get a breath of fresh air.
When you have visitors, ask them to come with you for a walk or bring you outside. It’s essential to get a change of scenery to avoid feelings of loneliness and depression.
Inform your nurses beforehand and communicate with them about your plans to go out so they can coordinate with you about when your doctor should visit with you and when your IV will need changing.
11. Stay Connected with Your Loved Ones
Staying in the hospital long-term could make you feel alone at times. Bring a laptop or a smartphone to keep your lines of communication open outside of visiting hours.
Talking to family and friends about your condition can assure you that you are not alone and help ease your illness burden.
Facetime or Skype family and friends to alleviate symptoms of depression and keep them updated with your situation.
12. Allow Others to Help You Out
People who care about you are eager to help you out and go to lengths to ease your burdens. Don’t be too modest in asking for help.
Whether relatives or friends, always be open to them about how you’re feeling. Ask them for help with things you can’t do on your own.
13. Open Lines of Communication with Medical Staff
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice out your concerns to your doctors and nurses. When you communicate with your medical staff, they may use medical jargon that may not be familiar to patients like you. If you have any questions about what they’re talking about, go ahead and speak up. Doctors and other medical staff will be more than willing to answer any questions you may have.
The more you know about your condition and treatment process, the better equipped you’ll be to understand what’s happening and why. If you’d like to research more about your condition, ask your doctor or nurse about trusted sources for medical information on the web.
If there are other concerns about the quality of your stay in the hospital, you can bring these up with your care provider. If you’re experiencing any discomfort with medical apparatus, like your IV, hospital bed, or bathroom, speak up. Ask for assistance whenever you feel uncomfortable in your room.
14. Beware of Anxiety and Depression
Because these illnesses require prolonged hospitalization, your usual routine may be disrupted, causing significant effects on your mental well-being. You’ll become more limited with the things you can do.
There will be certain activities you used to enjoy that you can’t participate in anymore, such as sports and other physical activities.
In some cases, medication may also trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression as some prescription drugs may impact your mood, memory, and thinking. It’s good to understand that feelings of anxiety and stress during this time of confinement are normal but need addressing. You can fight feelings of depression by keeping a journal, going to a support group, or obtaining counseling from a mental health professional.
15. Keep a Journal
Journaling is also an excellent habit to develop during your hospitalization. Keeping a journal helps you deal with your emotions by writing them. Writing down what you feel can help you be in touch with how you’re feeling about life, your diagnosis, and your treatment. Journaling can help relieve stress and allows you to express yourself freely in a healthy way.
16. Find a Support Group
Though family members and friends may try to understand what you’re going through, it may be difficult for them to truly comprehend the pain and anxiety you’re experiencing. These days, hospitals offer a support group for those who may share the same illness or experiences as you. Sharing your experience and treatment journey in a support group is a great way to voice out your worries and receive positive messages from those who have been successful at coping with their illness.
17. Seek Counseling When Necessary
It may take some time to heal from your medical condition fully. When things don’t go exactly as you planned, it may cause frustration on your part and leave you filled with negative emotions.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety are prevalent among people who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses. Depressive episodes occur, it may become more challenging to get through your treatment.
Talking it out with a therapist can promote a breath of relief for people undergoing long-term medical care. And sometimes crying it out with someone who understands is enough to get back on track emotionally.
Most hospitals these days may offer to counsel for inpatients. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this service, as mental health professionals can be an excellent resource to help you cope with your illness and treatment.
18. Trust Your Health Care Provider
Be confident in your doctor’s capacity to treat your condition. Trust that they have what it takes to provide the best course of action for your treatment journey.
Do your part to follow through with their instructions and prescriptions. Doing this can help you heal quickly and possibly reduce the time you have to spend inside a hospital facility.
Nobody wants to be confined in a hospital facility for an extended period. But it is necessary for treatment and healing. If your doctors prescribe a prolonged hospitalization, there are emotional drawbacks you might face along the way. You can prevent these from happening by focusing your mind on other things and keeping in close contact with people you love.