Let’s face it, waiting to hear from your doctor can be extremely challenging, even if it’s just waiting to hear about a prescription refill. But it’s especially stressful when waiting to hear from your doctor regarding test results, whether you’re waiting on your own results or the results of a loved one. There are a lot of emotions to manage, your own, others, or both and it can be overwhelming to say the least. The pressure of trying to hold it all together can be enough to make anyone burst – which is why it’s important to know how to support yourself through the waiting game. To help avoid (or know how to manage) a panic attack or downward spiral.
Managing Stress & How to Support Yourself
Waiting for news from your doctor can cause your body to go into a state of stress, causing your stress hormones, such as cortisol to rise, and making you feel on edge. This wears down your physical and emotional capacity, and can result in a panic attack or downward spiral. It’s a lot of pressure, trying to keep it all together when you’re facing the unknown. Here are a few tried and true ways to support yourself through this stressful time:
Step #1: Acknowledge your emotions
The emotional waves you’re riding as you wait to hear from your doctor are completely normal. It may feel like you are alone when you’re feeling anxious and fearful, but these feelings are actually quite universal and experienced by many people as they wait to hear from their doctor. Try to find solace in knowing that you are not the only one who feels this way in this situation. Additionally, by acknowledging your feelings you will be able to feel a sense of relief, rather than trying to repress them or wish them away. Let your emotions be witnessed, by yourself or a trusted loved one.
Step #2: Try not to assume the worst
Having tests done does not automatically mean that something is wrong with you. Doctors often order tests as a way to rule out unlikely diseases or conditions, as a precautionary measure. While I understand it’s easy to get into a thought train of imagining the worst possible outcome, it is not helpful and will only cause yourself more stress. If you find yourself spiraling into unhelpful thought patterns, try one of the steps below.
Step #3: Move your body
Movement has been proven to help relieve stress from the body. If you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts, or overwhelmed with fear and anxiety, try moving your body. It doesn’t matter how you move, just do what feels good and let your emotions move through you. You could try going for a walk, doing some yoga, or dancing around your house – just get your body moving and you’ll be sure to feel more calm.
Step #4: Be still with yourself
If movement isn’t possible or isn’t supportive for you, try coming into stillness and quieting the mind through meditation or a breathwork practice. This can help you release the anxious and fearful thoughts you’re having, by bringing you into your body and focusing on your breath or the sensations of your body to help create more space.
Step #5: Write out your feelings
Journaling is another great way to help facilitate the movement of your emotions and help you feel more in control of them. When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, those emotions are just hanging out, heavy on our mind and in our body. Pick up your pen and just start writing about how you’re feeling. By giving your emotions space to exist and be seen, you will create more space in your mind and body which will help you feel more at ease.
Step #6: Up your self-care
Be extra compassionate with yourself during this time and indulge in more self-care. Take a nap, watch your favorite show on Netflix, or run a nice hot bath and read your book. Also be sure to nourish yourself by cooking yourself a delicious meal or ordering your favorite food for takeout.
Whatever you do, be gentle and compassionate with yourself.
Resourcing & Empowering Yourself Through the Unknown
When waiting for medical results, it’s easy to fall into a place of disempowerment. So much is out of your control, which can be really frightening. Which is why it’s important to be able to resource and empower yourself through the unknown. Some ways you can empower yourself through the waiting game include:
Remind yourself of your power
You have made it through everything you have been through thus far in life, and you will make it through this as well. Remind yourself of your inner strength and resilience. Think about what makes you feel powerful and strong in your mind and body and embrace it. Refocusing on your inner strength can help you cope with the waiting process.
Talk it out
Sharing how you’re feeling with others can help to ease the stress and worry you are experiencing. Don’t suppress how you feel, share it with a trusted loved one or someone who is going through or has gone through the same situation. This can help to normalize your experience and help to take away the power your anxiety and stress have over you.
If you have questions, ask them. When you are getting testing done don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or technician questions. Knowledge is power, and there are no stupid questions. And if you forget to ask questions during your appointment, call or make a follow up appointment to get your questions answered. This will help to ease the fear and inner tension. Click here to read more on how to keep from forgetting what to ask the doctor when you are in front of them, and here to learn how to get the most out of your appointment and feel confident about it.
You have everything you need within you to empower yourself through the tedious process of waiting for a response from your doctor. Trust yourself to be able to source from within and know when to lean into your support network. You’re doing better than you think, keep going.