Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care: School of Medicine: University of California, Irvine
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Preparing for Surgery:
Mind Body Techniques for Surgery & Recovery

Emotionally, it is normal to experience a range of feelings about your upcoming surgery including high levels of anxiety. There are several relaxation techniques that you can learn and practice to help you manage these feelings and stress. These techniques can be practiced individually, in a combination or all at once to prepare for your upcoming surgery.

Many people have used relaxation techniques to decrease their fear, anxiety, pain and discomfort that relates to surgery. "Mind Over Matter" is how these techniques work. We hope you find these techniques useful in easing your level of anxiety to promote healing, decrease pain and discomfort during your surgery. More importantly, you can adopt these relaxation techniques into your daily routines and not limit them to just the upcoming surgery.

Your doctors will prescribe and take care of you with the traditional interventions but you, yourself can learn and perform these techniques described in this section to enhance the speed of recovery.

There are many studies that have repeatedly shown that mind body practices before medical procedures or surgery have a wide range of specific benefits including:

  • Less anxiety and distress
  • Less post-operative pain and discomfort
  • Reduced need for pain medication
  • Improved immune response
  • Less blood loss after surgery
  • Faster wound healing
  • Better sleep quality - so you get to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer
  • More confidence in your ability to handle stress
  • Fewer post-surgery complications
  • Shortened hospital stays

Mind Body Techniques

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery, is a variation on traditional meditation that can help relieve stress. This technique directs thoughts and suggestions that guide your imagination toward a relaxed, focused state. You can achieve a relaxed state when you imagine all the details of a safe, comfortable place, such as a beach or a garden.

The use of guided imagery has been found to facilitate healing, assist in controlling acute or chronic pain, and decrease anxiety and fear. It may help you feel more in control of your emotions and thought processes, which may improve your attitude, health, and sense of well-being. Guided imagery is a potent method of stress reduction, especially when combined with physical relaxation methods such as deep breathing.

Deep Breathing

When we are tense, we may hold our breath or breathe shallowly. When we do this oxygen intake can be decreased. The first step in dealing with stress is to engage in deep, slow breathing. As soon as you have control over your breathing we can turn to quieting our mind.

Affirmations

To develop a positive mindset is a powerful strategy. Using positive affirmations along with positive thinking techniques can develop personal power, gain a competitive edge, and even transform your health.

Hypnosis

During hypnosis a person's body relaxes while their thoughts become more focused and attentive. In this state of deep concentration, some people are highly responsive to a hypnotherapist's suggestions. Many mental health professionals use hypnosis to treat people with addictions, pain, anxiety disorders, and phobias.

Aroma Therapy

Aromatherapy uses volatile plant material known as essential oils and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering a person's mind, mood, cognitive function or health.

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