If you’re like me, any kind of doctor’s appointment comes with a lot of anxiety. Having mental health problems along with chronic illness requires a lot of appointments for me to try and cope with. While I know its important to keep the appointments, I’ve found myself canceling them in the past due to anxiety. Here are some ways I’ve found to cope with appointment-related anxiety.
First off, identify some of your triggers. One of my biggest triggers is smell. I hate the clinical, sterile kind of smell of doctors’ offices. To combat this I will wear a scarf that I spray with a perfume that I enjoy the scent of.
My other trigger is feeling naked. Really odd, I know, but I hate feeling cold or removing clothing. So if I’m going to a particularly upsetting appointment such as a gynecologic exam I will wear really warm fuzzy socks as it will help me feel less naked. Otherwise, a hoodie makes me feel very secure and almost hidden.
Maybe one of your triggers is worrying about being there on time: set a time that’s convenient for you. Or you might be worried all day about your appointment if it’s in the afternoon or evening. In order to avoid that anticipation it might be best to make your appointment first thing in the morning. I personally have to do it first thing in the morning or I will talk myself out of going.
Now that we have identified some ways to counteract your triggers, preparing for your appointment in these various ways can also provide some relief. One thing I like to do is write things down. I often get overwhelmed or intimidated by doctors and find it hard to speak, so having things written down clearly on a piece of paper that I can just hand to the doctor takes so much weight off of my shoulders.
Another thing I try and do is imagine myself having whatever procedure or exam done and practicing deep breathing. That way I am well prepared for when I actually need the deep breathing to be effective.
Lastly, distract yourself. Listen to music, read a book, watch Netflix. Anything to keep you busy. Waiting rooms can be scary and you can be stuck there for a while. Don’t be caught there without anything to do.
While doctors appointments may never be something we look forward to, hopefully we can learn some ways not to dread them.
How do you feel when going in for a therapist or a doctor’s appointment? Do you ever get anxious? What suggestions do you have to tackle appointment anxiety?