By: Paige Lennox
A medical appointment may cause strong emotions anxiety, frustration, anger, even terror. Yet, remaining calm during appointments is important for maintaining a productive and effective patient-doctor relationship.
Out-of-control emotions can shut down communication. You run the risk of being “fired” as a patient, of not being properly informed about your condition, or of not getting the care you need.
Throughout my career as an RN and now as a Medical Advocate, I have seen this play out. Remember that doctors are people too and dealing with someone who is overly emotional is exhausting and frustrating. It also takes up much more time. You are likely not the only patient who has taken their frustrations out on them that day and that affects them and how resourceful they can be in dealing with you.
9 Ways to Manage Your Emotions in a Medical Appointment
- Before you attend the appointment write down what you need to accomplish. If you become too upset to talk, hand the written list over to your doctor to read.
- Use self-talk to check-in with yourself – How do you feel? Becoming self-aware of your emotional state is a key step in being able to manage your emotions.
- If you notice strong feelings count to 10 before responding or expressing yourself. This will help you calm down and allow you to focus on your desired outcome, rather than venting strong emotions.
- Show your doctors and nurses the respect and appreciation for their time and knowledge they deserve. Be kind.
- Avoid at all costs raising your voice, using profanities, or name-calling. These can result in you being escorted out of the office. Instead, use words to explain your emotional state (i.e. “I feel anxious and frustrated about…”).
- Bring someone with you like a medical advocate who can be calm and logical and have them take notes.
- Use self-talk to help you calm down long enough to get through the appointment.
- Be aware of your body language. Make sure you sit up straight, with your arms softly at your sides and look your doctor in the eyes.
- Be “in the moment.” Listen and don’t move onto your next thought or retort before the doctor is finished.
It takes practice to follow these 9 steps. You can do it. Talk to your CHAI Health Advocate about role-playing possible situations. This can help you learn new strategies when it comes to family health advocacy with your provider. Role-playing will help you keep your emotions under control when you are in appointments.
All of the above will help you maintain productive relationships with your medical providers and ensure you get the best possible healthcare.