Anxiety experienced post-operatively can be due to an actual or perceived threat to self-concept, an actual or perceived loss of a significant other, a threat to one’s role function, the unknown.
To help alleviate anxiety seen in patients, the nurse can:
- Assess the level of anxiety – on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the least and 10 being the most. 1_______2_______3_______4_______5_______6_______7_______8_______9_______10
- Refrain from making demands or asking the patient to make decisions.
- Support the present coping mechanisms.
- Decrease sensory stimulation.
- Focus on the here and now. Set short-term goals.
- Limit contacts with others that are anxious.
- Teach anxiety interrupters — control breathing, lower shoulders, slow thoughts or teach patient to “stop” any repetitive thoughts, guided imagery, change perspective — imagine watching situation from a distance.
- Communicate clearly and simply. Ensure consistent information is provided to nursing/team.
- Allow patient ample opportunities to express feelings – listening to patient is more important than offering advice. Consult with Enterostomal Therapy Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Social Worker, Psychiatry as needed.
- Consult physician for possible pharmacological therapy if verbal interventions are ineffective.