Coping with Stress After Surgery: A Mindset Strategy

coping with stress after surgery

Navigating life after surgery introduces unexpected challenges that extend beyond physical health, impacting your mental well-being. Coping with stress after surgery involves not only considerations about what and how to eat but also addressing the mental aspects of your relationship with food and with others. Stress can become a constant companion, affecting relationships, habits, and overall quality of life. In this article, we’ll explore a straightforward mindset strategy to help you alleviate stress and regain control of your post-surgery journey.

Understanding the Signs of Stress

Stress can subtly seep into your life, manifesting as racing thoughts, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of having too much on your plate. It may feel like treading water, struggling to come up for air. Neglecting self-care and healthy habits becomes common, intensifying the stress and impacting your overall well-being.

The Health Implications of Unchecked Stress

Chronic stress, accumulating over time, can take a toll on your health. Disruptions to your daily routine may lead to inconsistent healthy habits. Elevated cortisol levels, the stress hormone, can weaken your immune system, making you susceptible to illness and prolonging recovery. Sleep quality may diminish, and small shifts in habits, such as missing essential vitamins or hydration, can contribute to post-surgery complications.

The Crucial Role of Mindset in Stress Management

Recognizing the connection between stress and mindset is crucial. Stress often triggers negative self-talk, fostering an all-or-nothing mindset. Harsh judgments like “I’m losing control” or “I’m a failure” dominate your thoughts during stressful phases. Breaking the stress cycle involves abandoning the perfectionist mindset and countering “Trigger Thoughts” with positive responses.

Re-framing Thoughts to Alleviate Stress

To overcome stress, it’s essential to let go of the “all or nothing” mindset and embrace imperfect action. Re-write your mental dialogue around these Trigger Thoughts by identifying and countering them with more productive and encouraging responses. Here’s how you can approach it:

Trigger Thought: “You’re not eating as healthy as before, you’re losing control.” Response: I am in a stressful yet temporary phase of transition. I can still find healthy options and forgive myself for not being perfect. Consistent effort matters.

Trigger Thought: “I’m not working out. I’m such a failure. I can never do anything right.” Response: My body doesn’t feel up to the same caliber of exercise right now. I’ll still move my body daily, but it may be more gentle and lower impact for now. I’ll be back to my normal routine soon.

Trigger Thought: “I deserve this (piece of cake). I’ve had a hard day.” Response: My day was challenging and stressful. I’ll address my emotions by reaching out to a friend or family member instead of indulging in something sweet. Alternatively, after eating the cake: “My body doesn’t feel great now. I’ll use this moment to think about healthier choices for future difficult days.”

In Summary

Post-surgery, stress is inevitable, but unchecked stress can jeopardize your health and long-term success. Chronic stress can erode the motivated mindset essential for success after bariatric surgery. Pay attention to destructive and judgmental thoughts, replacing them with encouraging words to reset the clock and get back on track with your health goals. Coping with stress after surgery is an ongoing process, and adopting a positive mindset is key to a successful post-surgery journey.

If you’ve been struggling with shifting your mindset to one that is positive and supportive of your health goals and have found yourself slipping back into old habits (that may or may not translate into weight stalls or weight regain), then I encourage you to explore our FREE Weight Regain Resource below.

This resource will give you specific action items of where to start to get back on track with weight regain, or to prevent weight regain in the future.

FREE Weight Regain Download

Coping with stress after surgery

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