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Preparing for the hospital waiting room

Surviving the hospital waiting room

A trip to the hospital can be daunting at the best of times. Spending time in a hospital waiting room does not have to be a bad experience. Hospital waiting rooms are something that unfortunately can’t be avoided, regardless of whether you are there for something routine, something more serious or there to support a friend or loved one. Waiting times can range into the hours, so it is best to come prepared. We have some ideas that will help pass that time more easily.

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Practice mindfulness

Spending time in a waiting room can be an anxious experience for any number of reasons. Finding a moment of peace might be the key to changing your whole experience. Mindfulness can help calm nerves and take your mind away from where you are. Breathing exercises are a great way to slow down the heart and relax your mind. You may have a routine that you already do at home that you can bring to the waiting room. There are also many online meditation apps and websites that offer ideas for mindfulness as well as guided meditation audio and video of different lengths and varieties. Some of the most popular websites and apps include Calm, Headspace, and The Mindfulness App. There are also plenty of YouTube channels such as The Mindful Movement and Great Meditation that offer guided meditation videos.

Write a journal entry

Writing a journal can be a useful way to control and calm your nerves while in the waiting room and hospital setting. Getting your thoughts down on paper can provide an opportunity to confront and process what might be going through your mind in a difficult time. It has been shown that anxiety and stress can be reduced by writing a journal and that it can also help with the recovery from trauma. If you don’t have a journal, it’s just as easy to put your thoughts down in the notes of your smartphone. There are also some great journaling apps available like Penzu, Daylio and Five Minute Journal.

Talk to someone

The emotional support of having someone by your side can greatly enhance your waiting room experience. For many, the best support is when you are with a friend or family member. It can help to talk through the reason you are in hospital or simply catching up on things that aren’t health related can be a great way to take your mind off where you are. If someone can’t be there with you, it might be worth picking up the phone to have a chat and take your mind off things. It could be a great opportunity to catch up and have that overdue conversation. There may also be someone else in the waiting room that could benefit from a chat and you might be able to relate your experiences, give advice and offer support to each other.

Read something

Sitting in the waiting room is the perfect time to dust off that novel you’ve been meaning to read. It’s surprising how quickly time can fly once you’ve gotten stuck into a good book. Waiting rooms can be a bit distracting with people coming and going. A lighter read, like a magazine or newspaper can be a great thing to dip in and out of while passing the time. Waiting rooms often have a handful of magazines and reading material to browse through, but why not treat yourself to something new off the rack at the newsstand or gift shop.

Bring your tablet or smartphone

There’s no denying that our smartphones and tablets can be a handy source of constant entertainment. Say what you will, but scrolling through social media is a great time killer, and there aren’t many places you might need to kill time more than in a hospital waiting room, so go for it. That said, there are plenty of other things you can do on your smartphone besides scrolling through social media. Why not download and watch a movie or tv show? Or listen to your favourite music or a new podcast? You can catch up on some news and online articles, read an e-book or do some online shopping. There are thousands of games to download and play, or challenge your mind with by doing a Sudoku, WORDLE or crossword. Just be sure to bring some headphones so you don’t disturb your other neighbours!

Get organised

The spare time you have in a waiting room could be put to good use by organising your life. Make to-do lists of the things you’ve been meaning to get done around the house. Write a meal plan and grocery list for the upcoming week. Do some online shopping or the research you have been meaning to do. It might even be a good time to sort out your taxes and finances or catch up on all those emails you’ve been meaning to respond to.

Bring your office

If you’re more of a doer it might be worth bringing your work laptop and getting some work done while sitting in the waiting room. That time you spend waiting can be a very handy time to get ahead or catch up on anything outstanding, do some brainstorming on that upcoming project or reply to some emails. It could also be an opportunity to contact clients or colleagues

What to do with kids

Having kids with you can create a whole new dynamic to your waiting room experience. You have to find a way to keep them entertained, occupied and from disturbing others around you. Games and small toys are great things to bring as well as books to read. Plenty of snacks like water, juice, muesli bars and nuts are also essential. Why not try playing a game of eye spy with your child. If all else fails, you can give them your phone or tablet to watch a movie or play an online game.

Pack the basics

There are a few items that you should always bring when you are visiting a hospital waiting room.

Water and snacks

Make sure you have some water and a handful of snacks like some fruit or a muesli bar to help stave off that thirst and hunger, or bring your wallet so you can buy something in the cafeteria.

Comfortable clothing

Wear clothing that you are comfortable in and something warm like a hoodie in case it gets cold. If it’s going to be a long wait, it could even be worth bringing in a pillow to get some rest or make the waiting room chairs a little less uncomfortable.

Chargers and devices

Last but not least if you’re using your devices like smartphones or tablets to keep you entertained, make sure you bring your charger. There’s nothing worse than watching your battery run down and die when you have more time to kill.

Having something to occupy your time while in the hospital waiting room can make a great difference to your waiting experience. There are few nice reasons to be sitting in a hospital waiting room, so hopefully some of the ideas in our guide can help make the pass a little easier.