Insight Neurosurgery – Surgery is an intimidating thought for everyone, but it can be especially stressful for people preparing for neurosurgery. Whether it’s a minimally invasive procedure or something more extensive, leaving your trust and life in the hands of a surgeon is never easy. The uncertainties about how you will feel, the recovery process, and if you will get the results you are hoping to achieve can lead to a lot of anxiety in the weeks and days leading up to the procedure. However, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself mentally and make your recovery as seamless as possible. From speaking with a therapist to prioritizing your needs, here are several steps you can take that will make your upcoming procedure a positive experience.

Educate Yourself

Having enough information is one of the best ways to prepare and feel safer as you plan for any procedure. Studies show that the more information you have before surgery, the less anxious you will be in the days leading up to the procedure. Your healthcare providers are your best source of information and want to ensure your questions and concerns are addressed. They can also provide additional resources such as websites and pamphlets to help you learn more. Platforms like YouTube are another great source for informative vlogs, patient testimonials, and other explainers on a wide range of conditions and procedures.

Prepare a List of Questions

Visits to doctors can be an information overload, especially when discussing complicated topics. One way you can take charge of your healthcare and get the most out of your time with your doctor is to come prepared with questions. Research shows that taking notes by hand helps people understand and retain information better, so come prepared with a notepad and pen. It is also a good idea to bring a trusted relative or friend with you. In addition to helping you build confidence and ease your nerves, they can also ask questions, help you decipher information, and even convey information to the doctor that you may be unable to do yourself.

Ask for Help

From your healthcare team to your family and friends, don’t be afraid to ask for help (or accept help when it’s offered). Whether it’s a ride to appointments, someone to be with you on the day of your procedure, or assisting around the house as you recover, be clear about what you need. Having a plan and dependable assistance lined up can go a long way in easing anxiety and ensuring you can make a speedy and successful recovery.

Prioritize Your Health

Prioritizing your health is another important aspect of managing stress and anxiety in the days leading up to your procedure. Be sure you are following your doctor’s instructions in the weeks and days ahead of your appointment. Something as simple as being well-rested, properly hydrated, and in a good state of mind can make a significant difference in your experience and outcome.

Consider Stress Management Strategies

Managing stress is often easier said than done, but there are a lot of simple strategies that you can use to help you prepare for surgery. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, listening to music, and yoga are all highly effective and can be practiced by people of all ages and abilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have many resources available online to help you cope with many types of stress, including tips for caregivers. Your doctor can also provide resources and recommendations if you have concerns about managing stress.

Speak to a Therapist

If you are struggling with anxiety before surgery (or after your procedure), talking to a therapist can make a meaningful difference in helping you ease fears, worries, and confusion. A therapist can help you make sense of your feelings, assist you in developing skills to work through major life transitions, provide coping strategies, and also suggest tools you can use during your healing journey. Fear and anxiety is a normal response to surgery, so don’t hesitate to mention any issues you may be experiencing to your healthcare provider.

Have Realistic Expectations

It is important to go into surgery with realistic expectations and the understanding that this is only one step in your journey. You may not wake up a new person and it is likely that you will have to put work into your recovery with post-surgery rehabilitation such as physical therapy. It is always important to honestly assess your reasons for having surgery and discuss them with your surgeon so you can review your goals together and ensure your expectations meet reality.

In the weeks and days leading to surgery, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Everyone has feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear when it comes to surgery. The good news is there are many things you can do to prepare and make surgery less intimidating, including asking questions, employing stress management strategies, and speaking to a therapist. To learn more about our neurosurgery and behavioral health services at Insight, contact us today to schedule an appointment.


Q: Can my surgeon refer me to a pre-op counselor?

A: Yes. Pre-op counseling is an excellent way to work through your concerns and feelings related to surgery in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

Q: What are the symptoms of surgery anxiety?

A: Common symptoms associated with surgery anxiety include excessive worrying, racing heartbeat, nausea or a nervous stomach, shortness of breath, and trouble sleeping.

Q: What are some important questions to ask my surgeon?

A: It is important to have a thorough understanding of what to expect before and after surgery. Important questions you may want to ask include:

  • What is my specific diagnosis?
  • Why do I need this operation and are there alternatives?
  • How will the procedure be performed?
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • What are the possible risks or complications associated with this procedure?
  • What is the success rate with this procedure?
  • What experience do you have with this procedure?