• Alicia Paz

Hate Going to the Doctor? Tips to Reduce Your Stress

My last few months have been busy with medical appointments, dental cleanings, stomach issues, and my third cyst removal. I am grateful and privileged to have generally good health and health insurance to manage when I am unwell or need preventative care. My full-time job pre-Covid involves helping Medicaid members navigate the health care system. I was embedded in a primary care office, and I have attended three times as many appointments with a member for every medical appointment I have been for myself.

From ophthalmology to gynecology, I have sat in waiting rooms, held hands, and used mindfulness skills to help members meet their needs with providers. But, of course, a lot of what I do happens outside of these appointments. From scheduling appointments to writing down a goal and even googling, the provider can make medical appointments successful.

I have witnessed some stigmatizing language, offensive staff, and many members who have had horrible experiences with medical and mental health providers. So it's understandable that returning to a specialist after a terrible experience might cause you stress. Understandably, the thought of making an appointment may send you into a tizzy, take three years to set up, and may be out of grasp for you right now- I understand.

Here are some tips that may help create a safe space and get your needs met.

Before scheduling an appointment

  • Practice some mindfulness like paced breathing

  • Remind yourself how proud you will be after making this call

  • Remind yourself about how this is working towards a goal like better health, not thinking or being nervous about that mysterious new pain, or better sleep.