Strategies to manage anxiety in healthcare appointments

Sometimes new strategies need to be tried several times in order to become comfortable with using them. Here are some ideas to help you manage your healthcare appointments.

  • Write down a list of your symptoms or record a 1-2-minute video explaining them
  • Ask someone to go with you to the appointment.
  • Bring a bag containing helpful sensory/soothing regulating items to take with you. Gather items that help you feel regulated, comfortable or help you cope with the sensory environment. Examples: earplugs, noise cancelling headphones, a favourite essential oil, fidgets, such as putty or squeeze balls, stretch band to wrap around finger for deep pressure
  • Take a notebook and pen to help you remember what is said
  • Write down what questions you want to ask, or what you want to talk about, like medication or paperwork
  • Set a reminder for when to leave home. Ensure you leave plenty of time.
  • In the waiting room, try pacing, progressive muscle relaxing, deep breathing, tools in sensory bag, sensory mindfulness exercise, read, work on emails on phone, ask to wait in the hall/quieter area.
  • In the appointment, use a communication app or write/type notes on what you want to say. Use your coping strategies to help you stay calm.


Afterwards à Reflection

Did you use your anxiety strategies?

If yes: which one/s? what worked well? What didn’t work well? Is there anything you want to try differently for the next appointment?

If no: what prevented you from using the strategies? What is your plan to help you overcome your challenge/s at your next appointment? Do you need help? Who can help?

It may be useful to talk to someone you trust about your concerns who can help you know what to do next. Sharing your feedback to the healthcare provider is useful and makes a difference. Fill in our quick survey at or tell us your story at Yyou can phone Care Opinion if you’d prefer. Tel: 0800 122 3135. All feedback is anonymous, and we use what you say to improve our services for patients, carers and families.



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