How to cope with a stressful upcoming appointment for your child

Appointments have the power to completely throw us off sometimes and find it difficult to focus on anything, this is post is designed to help you find a bit more calm and control around it!

We have a lot of appointments.

Some are routine appointments, like the dentist or the optician that we just don’t stress out about at all, others are routine appointments but they cause a slight amount of stress but on the whole we know that it is most likely that nothing too stressful will be the outcome of the appointment, then we have the BIG appointments.

The appointments that there is a possibility that the consultant may say things have got worse, or that an operation is needed, or that something else is needed.

These are the appointments that could mean something big happening and they are also the appointments we don’t have a huge amount of control over.

We may have a small inkling of what is going to be said, but ultimately we don’t know. It can feel a bit like walking into a lion’s den when you know it’s a lion’s den.

This not knowing is difficult for us as we like to be in control.

It brings up a lot of different things for us depending on past experience of appointments, hospital stays etc.

We can feel a lot of fear and anxiety. We can be trying to ‘see the future’ and imagining worst case scenarios.

When we are worrying about an upcoming appointment it is not a nice feeling at all.

It can completely throw us off for weeks before hand where we can feel like we can’t really focus on things, and it’s a struggle to keep up with out todo list, and there is a lot more stress eating than you feel comfortable with and you just know there is no getting back on track with your life until that appointment is over.

Note: It’s important to note here, that what is going to be seen as routine and what is going to be seen as a big appointment is going to look different for everyone depending on your circumstances and your experiences.

So how do we cope?

Accept the off days

One of the important things to do, is to accept that you are going to have ‘off days’. Days where you just feel like you are trying to get things done, but you are fighting an uphill battle and you are getting nowhere fast. You just feel like you don’t have the energy or the effort.

This is normal. I think sometimes we forget we are humans with a lot of thoughts and emotions and not robots who can just keep powering through regardless.

Accept you are going to have those days and embrace them. Do what you HAVE to do (e.g. paying that bill that is due today) but everything else can be left for another day. Instead ask yourself, what do I need to do today? What would make me feel better? That might be just sitting down with your book and drinking copious amounts of tea all day. It might be calling in to see a friend. It might be going for a long walk. It might be spending some time on your crafting. Whatever it is you feel called to do, make sure it’s something that makes you feel good and lets you escape just for a little while.

While it can seem like ignoring everything and just having a ‘day off’ is going to make your life a lot more stressful because you will have even more to do tomorrrow – it actually doesn’t.

Usually what we find is the days we have an off day and feel a bit ‘good for nothing’ – it can take us hours and a huge amount of effort to do a task that would typically take about 10 minutes on a normal day.

When we push through we end up getting to the end of the day and just feeling like crap. We’ve got hardly anything done and we just feel like we have run a marathon exhausted, and then we repeat the process the next day.

Whereas if we just took a break, we would have re-charged ourselves with that much needed rest (physical and emotional) and we will go into the next day ready to cross some things off our todo list.

Listen to your body – it will tell you what you need to do.

four green yarns on chopping board

Focus on what you can control

Our brains like to feel safe. We like to know what is happening. We like to know what will happen next. We like routine.

So while we cannot control the outcome of the appointment because it is out of our hands we can find control in other places to get a bit more of a balance.

Just little things make a difference.

Here are some examples, make them relevant to you:

  • What time do I need to leave for the appointment?
  • How far away is the hospital etc?
  • Do I need to take anything with me to the appointment
  • Who will pick my other children up from school
  • What shall we do for lunch/dinner
  • What time will be best to give my child food (if on a feeding schedule)
  • Make a list of questions for the consultant

Plan seeing into the future (and make a plan)

It can be hard not to imagine the absolute worst thing happening from the appointment.

Imagining going into the appointment and then one thing happening that avalanches into a load of other awful things happening.

We don’t know what will happen in the appointment, we are only able to see the now.

But, if we can’t stop catastrophising what could happen, sometimes it’s helpful to sit down and write out all the things we think COULD happen.

Just brain dump it all out of your head onto a piece of paper.

Go and make yourself a cup of tea, or go and do a quick hoover, or a few star jumps or just any sort of movement that will move that energy through your body and then come back to your list.

What things are just ridiculous and won’t happen? Cross them off.

Then look at your list and the things that could happen, now it’s time to make a plan.

For each thing that could happen (it doesn’t mean it will) make a quick plan. You don’t need details just a quick sentence of a few words.

If you went into the appointment and X happened, what would you do?

It’s important to stay calm doing this exercise, and if you feel like you are becoming very anxious doing it then stop and come back another day if you still want to. Only do this if you feel it would help.

Usually when we make a bit of a plan, we start to feel a bit more control over the situation, because we feel like ‘okay, well if they did say that then It will be okay because I’ve made my plan and everything is under control’.

Sometimes we will see that if they did say X in the appointment, it actually wouldn’t be as bad as I have been thinking it will be.

If doing this it’s making things worse, for example if you were to think if I went into the appointment and they said X, I just would not be able to cope with that at all, and you are finding yourself extremely upset and anxious – find sometime to talk to who can help. If your child has a nurse etc ask them for support and they can point you in the right direction. Someone out there can help support you.

photo of person writing on notebook

Make sure you are looking after yourself

When we are stressed out, our body uses more energy and resources so we need to make sure we are having everything we need.

We need to make sure we are eating well to give us the energy we need to keep going.

We need to get some movement in to help us de-stress and to make us feel good.

We need to get enough sleep, it is a lot harder to cope when we are sleep deprived.

We need to make time to be by ourselves, whether that is so that we can do something we enjoy (reading, exercising, crafting, having a long bath, gardening etc) or just taking time out to just process things.

We need to be actively trying to reduce our stress levels, this can be done through movement and taking care our ourselves (all the above) but it can also be doing things that will help bring our stress levels down – like getting some things you can’t stop thinking about crossed off your todo list to free up some mental space, or making some plans or asking for help.

Talk to someone

Whether that is your partner, or a friend or a family member or even a professional, talk to someone.

Tell them how you feel, don’t bottle it up inside because it makes it feel a million times worse.

If you feel like there is no way you can talk to someone about it, journal about it. Write it down and get it out of your head.

Journalling is good as it is a non-judgemental space to free up some thoughts from your mind.

Talking to someone in real life can be more beneficial though as they can help brainstorm ideas to help you. And even if they can’t help you, just knowing that someone is there who can support you is a good thing.

faceless lady walking on coast near sea


We underestimate how good and how much clearer we feel after a walk.

Even if it is just for ten minutes, get outside and just walk off a bit of the stress – it will give you an instant mood boost!

What are the ways that you cope with appointments that throw you off?

Let me know in the comments.

Beth x

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