Coping With Long Hospital Stays
Hospitals can bring about anxiety, fear, or curiosity, so staying in a hospital for long periods of time is difficult for most people. If you do have to be in a hospital for an extended period of time like my mother did when she was diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago, here are a few tips on how to handle those long hospital stays:
- Consider your home comforts.
Whatever home means to you, there is probably something in your home that has sentimental or comfort value. For me, it’s my journal I have had since I was 5. For my mother, it was her Moroccan travel tea set and her favorite plush blanket. Bringing something from your house that provides comfort to you may make your hospital room a little less intimidating.
If possible, wear your own clothes and bring your own toiletries to enhance the home effect and bring more personalization to your hospital stay.
- Grab photos of family and friends
A room with plain white walls and health safety protocol posters can make some people feel nervous. A possible solution? Decorate the space! If you’re allowed, consider bringing photos of friends and family. Fill the walls with moments in time of your favorite memories; the laughs; the stepping-stone moments; your favorite quotes, whatever you feel if you see it in front of you, it will make you smile, and feel at ease. At the very least have something to put on your bedside table.
- Take a mental health field-trip
When it comes to long hospital stays, much of your time may be in bed. Lying down can get tiring especially when you have had an abundance of rest or sleep. If you are able, take a mental health “field-trip” by walking around the hospital, down the hallway, over to the food-court, and around different departments.
If you are unable to leave your room or would prefer not too, then take a mental health “field-trip” by listening to sounds that calm you. For my mother, listening to ocean waves and resting provided a sense of meditative self-care for her.
- Start a journal.
When I was 5 years old, I began journaling things that happened to me throughout my day. I never thought I would keep this journal and watch a change in my language, knowledge, and life over the span of 17 years.
By channeling all of your inner thoughts, experiences, memories, and ideas into a journal you may feel better because you have an outlet for your thoughts—both good and bad. Journaling allows the chance for you to pave your energy into a page with endless lines and no storyline limits. It’s a way to share your thoughts, feelings, and voice.
- Entertain your mind.
Grab novel from home, download an e-book, or ask someone to bring you a new book. The hospital might also have a book collection. If you are a tech user, watch a TV-show or film online, read the news, watch YouTube videos, video chat someone, check up on your social media, or start a blog. Ask visitors to play a board game or a silly made up game to pass the time.
Perhaps a few of these tips will help make your stay at the hospital a little more cheerful and a little less stressful.