18 Ways to Cope With Long-Term Hospital Stay

Going through a long-term hospital stay can be a challenging and emotionally taxing experience; here are 18 practical and uplifting ways to enhance your hospital experience

Long-term patient feeling sad on a hospital bed
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Going through a long-term hospital stay can be a challenging and emotionally taxing experience. While the focus is often on medical treatment, it’s equally important to consider your mental and emotional wellbeing during this period.

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.

Here are 18 practical and uplifting ways to enhance your hospital experience and promote a positive mindset.

18 Ways to Cope With Long-Term Hospital Stay

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.

  • Prepare a specific travel bag for your hospital stay
  • Choose a functional and attractive bag for convenience
  • Having a designated bag can be useful for easy access 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:

  • Opt for your own clothing to maintain a sense of identity
  • Dress comfortably with loose clothing and zip-up jackets.

3. Use Your Own Toiletries and Bed Linen

As you put together your hospital travel bag, include a set of personal items such as toiletries your healthcare facility may not provide. Though hospitals may supply essential toiletries, bringing your own can help make you feel a little bit more at home.

  • Bring items like deodorant, face wash, moisturizer, and toothbrush for added comfort
  • Consider bringing your own pillow and blanket, too.

4. Have Home-Cooked Meals, If Allowed

If you’re confined in a hospital, chances are your doctor may have prescribed that you stick to a rigid diet.

  • Understand your dietary restrictions and explore the possibility of home-cooked meals. Consuming familiar foods can enhance your overall hospital 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

It’s natural to want to escape feelings of loneliness and homesickness during your stay in the hospital. You could try the following to ease such feelings:

  • Personalize your hospital room with pictures of loved ones
  • Display get-well-soon cards and items that bring you joy
  • Adorn your room with photographs or posters to create a more positive atmosphere.

6. Make Your Bed

Though the hospital cleaning crew will make your bed for you, it might work wonders if you take this task upon yourself.

  • Develop a routine of making your bed for a sense of purpose and responsibility
  • Returning to a well-made bed can provide comfort during challenging days.

Related » 5 Things That Should Be a Part of Your Morning Routine

7. Stay Entertained

Boredom combined with exhaustion from treatment is the formula for an unpleasant hospital experience.

  • Bring a laptop or smartphone for entertainment
  • Watch favorite movies, listen to podcasts, or read e-books to combat boredom
  • Have a book or other activities for moments when rest is difficult — especially since medical staff will frequently make rounds to check up on you.

8. Find a Hobby

There are several hobbies you can choose from. If you like arts and crafts, you can bring a sketchpad or a coloring book with you. Are you interested in trying something new? How about learning 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.

9. Listen to Uplifting Music

Music has been found to help people change the way they feel. In fact, listening to soothing music can help you relax and reduce anxiety and stress.

  • Create a playlist of favorite songs and listen to it to uplift your spirits.

10. Step 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 it’s essential to get a change of scenery to avoid feelings of loneliness and depression.

  • Step out of your room for a change of scenery
  • Take short trips within the hospital or request hospital staff to facilitate outdoor walks when possible.

11. Stay Connected with Your Loved Ones

Staying in the hospital long-term could make you feel alone at times. Talking to family and friends about your condition can assure you that you are not alone and help ease your illness burden.

  • Utilize laptops or smartphones to communicate with family and friends
  • Facetime or Skype to stay connected outside of visiting hours.

12. Be Open to Help

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
  • Communicate your needs and accept assistance when necessary.

13. Open Lines of Communication with Medical Staff

If you have any questions about your condition, your treatment or your hospital stay, 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.

  • Ask questions and voice concerns to medical professionals
  • Seek clarification on medical jargon and inquire about trusted sources for information.

14. Beware of Anxiety and Depression

Symptoms of anxiety and depression could slowly arise in diagnosing chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart ailments, and other illnesses. Because these illnesses require prolonged hospitalization, your usual routine may be disrupted, causing significant effects on your mental wellbeing. In some cases, medication may also trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression as some prescription drugs may impact your mood, memory, and thinking.

  • Recognize symptoms of anxiety and depression during long-term hospitalization
  • Seek counseling from a mental health professional, if necessary.

Stay away from news and current affairs. Reading the newspaper or watching news on TV can often be depressing as it’s filled with negativity and can aggravate your feelings of sadness and anxiety.

15. Keep a Journal

Journaling is also an excellent habit to develop during your hospitalization.

  • Develop the habit of journaling to express emotions and thoughts
  • Journaling can be a therapeutic way to cope with the challenges of hospitalization.

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.

  • Join a support group within the hospital to share experiences
  • Connect with others facing similar challenges for mutual support.

17. Seek Counseling When Necessary

Symptoms of depression and anxiety are prevalent among people who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses. When 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.

  • Consider therapy to navigate emotions during the treatment journey
  • Utilize counseling services provided by hospitals for emotional support.

18. Trust Your Healthcare 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.

  • Foster trust in your healthcare team to facilitate a smoother healing process.

Final Words

By incorporating the practical tips shared above, you can make your hospital stay pleasant, maintain a positive outlook throughout, while enhancing your overall wellbeing.

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