Lots of things cause anxiety, and a pending medical procedure certainly makes many people feel nervous. Given that some people dread their semiannual dentist appointments, it’s completely understandable that you may be feeling a bit anxious about your upcoming LASIK procedure, even after you’ve done your research and talked to your doctor about what’s involved. After all, your eyesight is one of your most precious resources, and chances are, you’ve had nothing more than a routine exam performed on your delicate eyes.
Fortunately, there are tangible and proven ways to reduce your anxiety that don’t involve medication. Consider these natural stress busters as you approach this potentially life-changing procedure.
Take comfort in the technology & expertise
LASIK is one of the most commonly performed operations in America, with approximately 700,000 procedures done annually. The Food and Drug Administration approved and currently monitors LASIK, which utilizes the same aerospace technology the U.S. government uses for missile tracking. Highly trained medical doctors who specialize in eye health perform the procedure, which treats the cornea and requires no stitches. As a result of this leading edge technology and medical expertise, more than 90 percent of people who undergo LASIK achieve between 20/20 and 20/40 vision without subsequently needing glasses or contacts.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Even with LASIK’s advanced technology and your surgeon’s expertise, you may still be nervous on the day of your procedure. The Mayo Clinic recommends slowly tensing and relaxing muscle groups in your body as an effective relaxation technique. This progressive muscle relaxation exercise enhances awareness of the difference between tension and relaxation. Try tensing your shoulder and neck muscles for a few seconds followed by a longer period of relaxation. Progress to different muscle groups, stay focused on breathing and concentrate on how your body feels when relaxed.
Also recommended by the Mayo Clinic, this mental exercise is intended to take you to a place that promotes a sense of calm. Certified yoga instructor and stress management author Julie Lusk likes to take her students on a journey through a peaceful woodland, noting the sights, sounds and smells that make it a calming, special place. Think of a favorite peaceful place you enjoy, and call to mind all the reasons that you love it.
Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and author of the best-selling book, Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, advocates diaphragmatic (or belly) breathing exercises as a way to lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure and achieve enhanced feelings of peacefulness and relaxation. She suggests placing one hand on your abdomen, closing your eyes and inhaling a deep breath through your nose as you feel your belly flatten. Expel the breath through your mouth, feeling your belly expand. Try to make the out-breath longer than the in-breath, like you’re sighing. Adding a meditation mantra or phrase to the cadence of your breathing also can help you focus on relaxing, she says.
Yoga Journal reports that a hot bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil can reduce stress when inhaled by affecting certain parts of the brain that influence emotions, behavior and breathing. Your favorite essential oils or scented candles also might help you relax during deep breathing and imagery visualization exercises.
Keep the end result in sight
Keep in mind that in the vast majority of cases, patients experience minimal discomfort during the LASIK procedure, which usually takes less than 15 minutes. Recovery time is typically brief, and within 12-18 hours, most patients find their vision is as good as their eyesight was when they were wearing their glasses or contacts. Many people even notice improved vision immediately after the procedure.
And, once complete, you’re ready to enjoy a new lifestyle of reduced dependence on contacts and glasses.