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The aim was to describe the moods experienced by people waiting for day surgery.Except for anxiety, there is a lack of knowledge about the moods experienced by patients while waiting for day surgery, as well as the impact of mood during the perioperative period. Preoperative anxiety is common and has multiple negative effects. A deeper knowledge of preoperative moods and how they are experienced is needed and may be useful for improving perioperative care.Qualitative descriptive design.Qualitative semi-structured interviews (n = 20) with adults waiting for day surgery in a Swedish university hospital. Data were analysed with inductive content analysis.The informants described a variety of moods and mood-influencing reasons. The main category that emerged was, ‘feeling hope about regaining health as a help to balance mood’ regardless of mood. This category was abstracted from the generic categories ‘experiencing a harmonious mood’ and ‘experiencing a shifting mood’. The subcategories were ‘feeling calm and at ease despite concerns and fear,’ ‘experiencing expectation,’ ‘feeling trust and confidence,’ ‘shifting between expectancy and anxiety,’ ‘feeling vulnerable and exposed, and ‘feeling uncertainty’.The findings contribute to the knowledge about that regardless of mood, feeling hope about regaining health may help patients to balance their mood during the waiting period.The results can have implications with respect to developing and improving preoperative care, such as having clinicians extend offers of individual assistance and information during the waiting period to patients experiencing shifting mood. Instilling hopefulness in patients who are waiting for day surgery by means of clinical staff attitudes and interactions may help patients to develop healthy coping strategies and thereby improve their physical and emotional well-being.