Preparing your mind before surgery

Having an operation is a major event in someone’s life and you may feel anxious about it.  However, there is much you can do to help yourself while you wait for your surgery.

Managing your anxiety, encouraging positive thinking and developing your coping skills might have a positive effect on your recovery and outcome from the surgery.

In the weeks and months before your operation

There are many techniques which you can use to help you relax and manage your anxiety before and after your surgery. It’s a case of trying different things and seeing what works best for you. You may use different meditation techniques such as mindfulness, visualisation, breathing exercises or even yoga. Gardening or going for walks may also be calming for you. You can find lots of helpful information online or your GP and hospital team may be able to direct you to useful resources. 

If you think you require additional help with managing your anxiety, your GP or hospital team can refer you to a trained healthcare professional.

On the day of the operation

It’s also important to think about how to relax and stay calm on the day of your operation. It is useful to plan ahead and think about what to take with you to the hospital to keep your mind occupied while you are waiting. You might want to read a book or magazine, listen to music through headphones, do a crossword, or even mindful colouring in. Perhaps plan in advance a special reward to look forward to when you get home.

Resources by the RCoA and BSCAH

Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, mindfullness or guided imagery before surgery can help you imagine yourself recovering calmly and doing well. 

The RCoA, in partnership with the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH), has produced a series of recordings which you might find useful to help you relax before surgery and to develop a positive mindset about your procedure and recovery.

These recordings have been prepared and recorded by health care professionals who have been trained in medical hypnosis by the BSCAH.

There are two sessions for you to choose from; one short session of around 8 minutes and a longer one of around 17 minutes. The longer session expands on the short session and might help you to relax more deeply. The recordings are available in both male and female voices. You can listen to both sessions as often as you like before the day of your surgery, whilst in hospital on the day of the operation and when you are recovering.

You can access them here: 

The above recordings are also available on our YouTube Channel.


  • It is important NOT to listen to these recordings when driving, using machinery or in any other situation that requires your full attention.
  • If you have a mental health condition and/or are undergoing treatment for a mental health condition, please consult with your healthcare professional on whether these recordings are appropriate for you.

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