Coping with a Hospital Stay

Spending time in the hospital can feel unfamiliar to many people. While these feelings are natural, know that there are things you can do to help make your stay less stressful and more comfortable.

The Iris Clinical Care Team’s Top 8 Suggestions to Help You Cope with a Hospital Stay

  • Get to know who will be caring for you. Each member of the hospital team plays an important role in helping to ensure that you get the care that you need – from those who will be providing your medical care to those who may be cleaning your hospital room and delivering your meals. Understanding who will be caring for you during your hospital stay and who to turn to for questions can help you to feel more in control of your care.

  • Speak up. Ask any question that comes to mind regarding the hospital and your medical care. No question is too small. State your concerns. For example, you may wonder, “How do I access food/meals?” or “What time(s) of the days does the medical team visit me/conduct rounds?”. Your bedside nurse will serve as a primary resource to you and liaison to your medical team. The more you can interact with the hospital staff and medical team, the more aware you will become of the environment and your medical care.

  • Create a soothing physical environment. The hospital can feel stressful, so anything that can be done to make it seem more relaxed can be helpful to your sense of security and comfort. Consider the physical environment - what you see, hear, and smell - and what you can do to make it feel more pleasant to you. For example, you may want to ask if you can have aromatherapy in the room or ask for an extra blanket if your room feels cold.

  • Distract yourself. There may be times when you experience feelings of boredom during your hospital stay. Whether it is reading a book, watching your favorite TV shows, or listening to a podcast, consider what activities you might enjoy and that you can comfortably and safely engage in while you are at the hospital.

  • Calm yourself. Think about strategies to help promote a sense of calm and stability. For example, you may consider journaling your thoughts, practicing mindfulness techniques, or observing your religious practice. You can ask if there is someone on the medical team, such as a social worker or a psychologist to offer additional support. Also, consider speaking with an Iris Mental Health Therapist during your hospital stay.

  • Consider your social support needs. Some people wish to have loved ones visit them while in the hospital while others prefer not to have visitors. Each approach is natural and healthy. The most important thing is to be aware of what your needs are and to have them conveyed to your loved ones. Consider bringing a phone or tablet to stay connected, especially if you will be by yourself during your stay. Keep in mind your loved ones can participate in conversations with the medical team through video chat or over the phone.

  • Advocate for your needs around privacy and rest. It can be challenging to feel a sense of privacy while in the hospital. Be prepared that there will be staff coming in and out of your room on a regular basis to check on you, deliver meals, and to clean your room. Once you are settled in, speak with your nurse about whether there are certain times of the day / evening when you can have privacy and rest.

  • Don’t forget to move. While you may not feel up to being active, consider working with your medical team to stay as active as possible during your hospitalization. Consider what types of light exercises you may be able to do from your bed or in your room or ask if you can leave your room for a walk. Staying active can have physical and emotional benefits.