Tuesday, May 23, 2017

PREP: Pre-Hospital Empowerment Program


By Sara Scheller, BSN, RN, CPN, CCRN
Integrative Health Coach

If you knew you were going to the hospital for a planned surgery or procedure, how would you feel? Would you feel stressed, worried, and anxious or would you feel confident and empowered to be the driver of your healthcare experience? The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all hospital admission. This is a highly individualized, unique process. According to EMPATHie (empowering patients in the management of chronic diseases), “An empowered patient has control over the management of their condition in daily life. They take action to improve the quality of their life and have the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and self-awareness to adjust their behavior and to work in partnership with others where necessary, to achieve optimal well-being.” One benefit of having an expected hospital admission (for surgery or other procedure) is that you can plan for it! You may not know exactly what to expect, but you can create and build practices to help you self-regulate this process.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back after adversity. Here are three ways to build more resilience with any challenge in your life:

1. Change your perspective, or how you look at things. You can shift to look at your experience as an opportunity to heal, learn, grow, and/or rest. We are born with a “negativity bias” or fear, vulnerability, and worry as a natural response to negative stimuli. But, you can leverage your ability to re-wire your brain through conscious efforts to find the good. According to Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” With support and practice, finding the good can become automatic, leading to more resiliency following tough times.

2. Find what activities or practices create balance or joy in your life. Lissa Rankin, M.D. in her book Mind Over Medicine encourages, “if you’re exposed to stressors you either can’t change or aren’t ready to change, you must prioritize activities that induce the relaxation response as a way to counterbalance the stresses in your life…creative expression, sexual release, being with people you love, spending time with your spiritual community, doing work that feeds your soul, and other relaxing activities such as laughter, playing with pets, journaling, prayer, napping, yoga, getting a massage, reading, singing, playing a musical instrument, gardening, cooking, Tai Chi, going for a walk, taking a hot bath, and enjoying nature.” If you aren’t sure which of these works to induce your relaxation response, try experimenting! Find what works for you.

3. Learn tools which you can practice on your own and/or with support, prior to your admission that you can use both during your hospitalization and in other challenging times of your life. These include mindfulness, 4-7-8 breathing, guided meditation, and other techniques where you can learn to become aware of how you are triggered and respond to stress. Once you become aware of this, you can use these tools to shift your body out of fight or flight. Allowing your body to shift into the relaxation response, you can rest and digest, reduce inflammation, and allow your body to heal naturally.

When you partner up with a health coach or other health care professional for support, you can become empowered to co-manage your health and well-being. You can be responsible for your own health, and tap into the resources of an expert creating a balance between self-management and shared decision-making. Through education and a holistic approach (mind, body and spirit), you can create a plan to optimize your body’s natural response to stress, allowing your body to work for you instead of against you.

PREP (Pre-Hospital Empowerment Program) assists you in preparing for a planned hospital admission for your surgery or procedure. To learn more, please email me at Sara.Scheller@HackensackMeridian.org.

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