Waiting for a while can have a huge impact on your daily life, including your mental health, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing too. There are things you can do to help you stay well and prepare for your procedure if you are having one.
Please click on the sections below for more information on making lifestyle changes, keeping a positive mindset, managing pain and physiotherapy, and preparing for surgery.
You can also speak to our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) who can provide you and your family with support and information and put you in touch with support groups. 

Making lifestyle changes

Get moving

Being active can help you recover from surgery more quickly as well as being a great way to boost your mental health. 

Get active - Better Health is the NHS’s official ‘Getting active’ page which provides you with a variety of exercises and tips to help you get active. It also includes discounts to gym memberships. 

Some people may not be able to partake in exercises like running, so activities like yoga or pilates can be a great way to keep fit. Guided videos and more helpful links can be found here as well as exercises specific to those affected by arthritis, knee pain, scoliosis or osteoporosis: Vinyasa flow yoga video - NHS

Through our partnership with the Chelsea Football Club Foundation, we have developed a variety of free physical activity and health education programmes for our patients. This includes stroke rehab, cardiac rehab, and pulmonary rehab, as well as exercise and mobility sessions and walking football. For more information and to find something suitable for you please visit here or email community.enquiries@chelseafc.com.  

Eat well

Keeping up with a healthy diet is important and contributes to your overall physical and mental health. Here are 8 tips for healthy eating from the NHS that can help you maintain a balanced diet. 
The British Dietetic Association has a wide range of food fact sheets to help you learn the best ways to eat and drink to keep your body fit and healthy. 
If you have lost your appetite, are eating less than normal and are losing weight unintentionally then please get in touch with your GP / other health care professional for personalised nutrition advice.  

Quit smoking

Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable death, disability, ill health and social inequality in the UK. Quitting smoking is the best thing any smoker can do to improve their current and future health. Those who quit smoking approximately four weeks before surgery have a reduced risk of postsurgical complications, lung, heart and wound-related complications, and on average have a shorter stay in hospital. 
Quitting smoking can also help to reduce pain and improve mental health post-surgery. 
If you want to quit smoking (including shisha use and/or chewing tobacco), you are more likely to do so with the right support. Please visit the NHS quitting smoking website for free support on ways to quit smoking, and also let your doctor know so they can support you.  

Drink less alcohol

It is very important to safely reduce the amount of alcohol you drink before your operation. Alcohol can weaken your immune system, putting you at risk of developing complications and prolonging your recovery.

Reducing how much you drink can improve your health, boost your energy, help you lose weight and save money. Visit Drink Aware to understand more about your drinking and get tips on how to make a change.

Further advice on reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can be found on the NHS website.

You should aim to be alcohol free for at least 24 hours before your operation.

Most people will need some degree of help or a long-term plan to stay in control or completely alcohol free. If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous is a free self-help group. Its 12-step programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups. 

Keeping a positive mindset

Feel your best

You may feel worried or anxious before a hospital appointment or treatment which is perfectly normal. Some people might also find that an existing mental health condition gets worse during this time.

You can find information and support for mental health, expert advice and practical tips on the NHS websites such as Every Mind Matters.

If you are finding that your feelings are becoming too intense or difficult to cope with, live in England and are aged 18 or over, you can access NHS psychological therapies (IAPT) services.

For mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, talking therapies could be beneficial for you. A GP can refer you, or you can refer yourself directly. Find an NHS psychological therapies service.

Shout is a free, confidential, 24/7 text support service for anyone in the UK who is struggling to cope. To start a conversation, text the word 'SHOUT' to 85258. Trained volunteers will listen at any time of day or night, and messages won't appear on your phone bill.

The Best for You platform is designed for, and in consultation with, young people and their families. It brings together a wide range of tried-and-tested digital tools on one website for anyone in the UK, providing 24/7 support for young people. It also includes personalised mental health services for young people in North West London.

Here for you is a campaign which involves six of the UK's leading mental health charities coming together to ensure no young person should ever feel alone. If you’re a young person struggling with any kind of mental health worries, reach out in a way that suits you. From speaking to someone or grabbing some info, to webchat or text, there’s people ready and waiting to help. If you’re a parent or teacher, you’ll find loads of useful advice to help you support the brilliant young people in your lives – from FAQs to downloadable packs.

Stay social and connect with your local community

Socialising and finding a support group are one of the best ways to maintain a positive mindset.
Welcome to Team London volunteering is a UK government website where you can find a wide range of volunteering opportunities across London. You can search for opportunities based on your interest and preferred location. There are also opportunities to volunteer remotely.
If you want to volunteer within our hospitals, please visit the Imperial Health Charity website to find the right volunteer role for you.
You may be able to access support from social prescribing link workers or health coaches. Ask your GP practice if they are able to connect you to one.

Financial wellbeing

Waiting for care may mean you are in a position where your financial situation may worry you more than usual. The NHS has some support pages to help you get into contact with professionals through support telephone lines, webchats or numbers you can text, all to get into contact with a support team
Some help and support is available to everyone, including home adaptations and equipment. Please visit here to learn more.

Managing pain and physiotherapy

Pain management

Chronic primary pain affects about 28 million people in the UK. Back pain alone accounts for 40% of sickness absence in the UK. There are strong associations between chronic pain, mental ill health and physical health conditions. Chronic pain can adversely affect your day to day quality of life. There is lots of support and help available to you to help manage your pain while you wait for your treatment. Some websites you can visit to get more information on managing any pain you are experiencing include The Pain Toolkit and Action on Pain.
Flippin pain is a public health campaign aimed at creating awareness on pain and helps patients understand the scientific meaning behind pain to help manage their condition better.
If you have arthritis, Versus Arthritis provides useful resources about the condition, including a helpline, an online community, exercise sheets, and a directory for finding support in your local area.


Some patients may be able to self-refer to physiotherapy without having to wait for a GP referral first. PhysioNow is a digital self-assessment tool that helps patients conveniently access physiotherapy to manage their symptoms or injury. It also provides advice and guidance whether you are managing your condition independently or you are waiting for a physiotherapy appointment. To find out whether you have this service in your area, please visit here.

Control of long term medical conditions

If you are suffering from a long term health condition such as asthma, hypothyroidism, diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to make sure it is well controlled. Necessary lifestyle adjustments should be made to prevent flare up of disease, enhance recovery and establish stability of chronic condition.
You can use this NHS tool to help you understand what your blood pressure reading means. Based on your results, you will also get information about what to do next if your readings are out of range.
There's currently no cure for asthma but treatment can help control the symptoms so you're able to live an active life. Usually, you will be able to create a personal action plan with a doctor or asthma nurse. This includes information about your medicines, how to monitor your condition and what to do if you have an asthma attack.
You can find all information related to your diabetes including foot care, eye care and diet and lifestyle changes on the Diabetes UK website.

Preparing for surgery

Preparing for surgery

Going through surgery may be daunting but you can find lots of ways in which you can best prepare from the Royal College of Anaesthetists website, including steps you can take to improve your health, reduce surgery complications and speed up your recovery.