Feeling out of your depth and apprehensive before an operation is to be expected. It's a time where you may feel incredibly vulnerable and worried about how well the operation will go, the "what if..."s swirl around your head in the run up to the big day. See, we get it, which is why we've found some exercises for you to do that might help!

You may already deal with anxiety or depression, or just feeling the stress of an operation date coming closer, but there are ways to deal with these feelings! The best way is to share your worries with family, friends, GP, doctors (or any hospital staff for that matter) as their support can help you get through many stressful situations.

Here are some physical activities you can do that have been proven to reduce stress over time and may be useful to calm your pre-op nerves. Give them a go!

Releiving Stress

Stress causes mental unrest, but can also have a get affect on your general well being as it can make you feel run down and your muscles may become tight and uncomfortable. Although the cause of the anxiety wonít disappear, you will probably feel more able to deal with it once you've released the tension in your body and cleared your thoughts if you do something proactive to combat these feelings.

Relaxed breathing

Practise deep breathing at a regular time and in a quiet place where you wonít be disturbed. Loosen or remove any tight clothes you have on, such as shoes or jackets. Make yourself feel completely comfortable.

Sit in a comfy chair which supports your head or lie on the floor or a bed. Place your arms on the chair arms, or flat on the floor or bed, a little bit away from the side of your body with the palms up. If youíre lying down, stretch out your legs, keeping them hip-width apart or slightly wider. If youíre sitting in a chair, donít cross your legs.

Good relaxation always starts with focusing on your breathing. The way to do it is to breathe in and out slowly and in a regular rhythm as this will help you to calm down.

  • Fill up the whole of your lungs with air, without forcing. Imagine you're filling up a bottle, so that your lungs fill from the bottom.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Breathe in slowly and regularly counting from one to five (donít worry if you canít reach five at first).
  • Then let the breath escape slowly, counting from one to five.
  • Keep doing this until you feel calm. Breathe without pausing or holding your breath.
  • Practise this relaxed breathing for three to five minutes, two to three times a day (or whenever you feel stressed).

Deep muscle relaxation

This technique takes around 20 minutes. It stretches different muscles in turn and then relaxes them, to release tension from the body and relax your mind.

Find a warm, quiet place with no distractions. Get completely comfortable, either sitting or lying down. Close your eyes and begin by focusing on your breathing; breathing slowly and deeply, as described above.
If you have pain in certain muscles, or if there are muscles that you find it difficult to focus on, spend more time on relaxing other parts.

You may want to play some soothing music to help relaxation. As with all relaxation techniques, deep muscle relaxation will require a bit of practice before you start feeling its benefits.

For each exercise, hold the stretch for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat it a couple of times. Itís useful to keep to the same order as you work through the muscle groups:

  • Face: push the eyebrows together, as though frowning, then release.
  • Neck: gently tilt the head forwards, pushing chin down towards chest, then slowly lift again.
  • Shoulders: pull them up towards the ears (shrug), then relax them down towards the feet.
  • Chest: breathe slowly and deeply into the diaphragm (below your bottom rib) so that you're using the whole of the lungs. Then breathe slowly out, allowing the belly to deflate as all the air is exhaled.
  • Arms: stretch the arms away from the body, reach, then relax.
  • Legs: push the toes away from the body, then pull them towards body, then relax.
  • Wrists and hands: stretch the wrist by pulling the hand up towards you, and stretch out the fingers and thumbs, then relax.
  • Spend some time lying quietly after your relaxation with your eyes closed. When you feel ready, stretch and get up slowly.