How To Survive A Blood Test When You Have A Needle Phobia

There are obviously big trigger warnings that come with this post – I am going to be talking about needle phobia, injections, doctors and blood tests. If, like me, these things trigger a panic, please feel free to leave now! However, I would also like to encourage you to try to read what you can. Take a deep breath, take your time, and see if any of these tips can help you.

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Hi. My name is Sammy and I have an almighty phobia of needles. That phobia extends to blood pressure cuffs, doctors, nurses, hospital waiting rooms… you get the idea.

The last time I was asked to go for a blood test, I had a panic attack in the waiting room, started crying in the chair, and got sent home before any blood was taken. Not my finest moment.
So, imagine my horror when I was told last week that I had to go for – you guessed it – another blood test!

I instantly panicked. And it’s okay if the thought of a blood test or an injection does that to you too. There are loads of people who suffer from the same fears and phobias that we do, and I promise that you can get through it.

I’m no expert, not by any means. But, on this occasion, I was able to implement a few tricks and techniques that helped me to have a blood test with minimal stress, and I’d like to share them with you. I know when I was searching for tips on dealing with needle phobia, I struggled to find anything very helpful in the short-term, that wasn’t just suggesting expensive phobia therapy. Speaking to a professional is obviously the best option, but if you need some tips just to get you through that appointment next week, hopefully these five tips will help.

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1. Limit Your Waiting Time

I think I have mastered the art of arriving perfectly on time for appointments! Waiting rooms can be really stressful places if you have a phobia, so it can be good idea to avoid long waiting times. Obviously, you don’t want to be running late and stressed, but I’d advise getting to your appointment with just a few minutes spare. This avoids that long panic-inducing wait, meaning you don’t have too long to get worked up before you’re called in.

2. If You Have To Wait – Have A Distraction

Always have a distraction. You could download an episode of your favourite comedy onto your phone, or have Youtube ready to play a new relaxing vlog. Take a book or magazine, or even a handheld games console to distract yourself. I love to read, but find that I can’t concentrate on a book while I’m panicking, so I have a few ‘waiting room’ TV shows downloaded on my phone, ready to watch if needed. If you’re like me and want something to listen to/watch – don’t forget your headphones! And on that note…

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3. Play Calming Music

If you suffer from a needle phobia and need to have a blood test, I really recommend finding some music that helps you to feel calm. Then, all you need is one headphone in, and you can instantly feel a little more relaxed. You will probably need to keep one headphone out, in order to speak to your nurse or doctor, but you might be able to ‘plug in’ completely once they start the procedure. Play whatever keeps you calm – it doesn’t have to be spa music or whale song! For me, it’s Neil Diamond, for you, it might be Iron Maiden – whatever works!

4. Take Someone With You

If possible, take someone along to support you. My first question when I had to book my blood test was ‘Can I book it for next week?’ – because I knew that was when my husband would be available to come with me. If you have an understanding partner, parent, sibling or friend who can accompany you to an appointment, ask them if they could come with you. It helps to have someone to talk to, plus it can alleviate some of the panic associated with fainting or needing to leave, as you will have someone there to help you at all times.

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5. Lie Down

My last tip is the most simple, but possibly the most effective, if you are going for a blood test. Ask if you can lie down. I have found that this, without fail, is the easiest way for me to stay calm when having a blood test. Physically, it keeps your feet higher off the ground, so can stop you from feeling so faint. Psychologically, I know that if I do faint (a big worry-trigger for me), I’m already laying down – so I can’t fall!

I have had nurses tell me in the past that I can’t lie down. There is no reason (physically speaking) for you not to, so if that’s what you need, don’t be afraid to be a bit assertive. (Try channeling in your inner cat, like in my last post!)

I hope these five tips can help you, if you are scared of blood tests or needles and have to go for a blood test or injection.
And just remember – it will all be over in a matter of minutes. You’ve got this.

How To (And Why You Should) Live More Cat

Why you should live your life a little more like our feline friends… and how to make that happen.

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If there’s one thing you should know about me (apart from my serious book-buying addiction) it’s that I seriously love cats.
A lot of people say you’re either a dog person or a cat person, and I am 100% a cat person. I love their fluffiness, their grumpiness, their fierce independence, and the fact that when I get home after work, there is always a furry friend waiting to cuddle me and keep me company.

(For the few of you who are cat-obsessed as I am and are now desperate to know – I have a very large, very vocal, black and white cat called Felix. We rescued him when he was 7 years old and very overweight, and I love him possible more than I love my own husband…)

Anyway – cat person, dog person, reptile person – everyone is welcome here! And you don’t have to be a cat person to learn something from this post, I hope.

I believe that we could all benefit from living more ‘cat’.

Let me explain. There are a number of qualities and attributes of our feline friends that I think us mere humans could learn from. Things that could improve our work lives, make us feel more confident, and ultimately improve our wellbeing. (There are already a few books written about this, so if you find this post interesting, you could always read more. For example, ‘How To Argue With A Cat’*.)

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Here are four ways tp Live More Cat:

Be Assertive

Cats are never afraid to say what they want. In fact, my cat is currently shouting at my husband downstairs, because he knows it’s dinner time! He knows exactly what he wants, and he will tell us straight. Time for dinner? Tell the humans. Want a cuddle? Tell the humans. Want to be left alone? Definitely tell them!
Now, I’m not saying you should start hissing at the next person to annoy you in a team meeting. However, couldn’t we all benefit from being a little bit more assertive? As tough as it can be, especially for those of us with anxiety or similar issues, it is often well worth saying what you need. That could be to your boss, a colleague, a friend or a partner. Try it, and see where it gets you.

Be Wary, But Loyal

Perhaps I don’t mean ‘wary’ – that sounds a bit negative. What I mean is, trust carefully when you need to. It’s not healthy to be paranoid and think the worst of everyone you meet, but it also isn’t always a good idea to fully trust everybody straight away. Hold off a little, let people earn your trust, but then be loyal to your friends.
Many people talk about how loyal dogs are, but actually many cats are too. Once you’ve developed a good relationship with your cat, they will stick with you. Isn’t that the kind of friend we all aspire to be?

Always Be A Bit Kitten

So, I’m telling you to be more cat – but what about kittens? Cute, fluffy little balls of absolute crazy! They love to play and just have fun! They don’t mind a bump here or a scratch there, they just want to play and have fun and enjoy themselves.
If you have a cat, you’ll be aware of the ‘crazy hour’. If you’re unfamiliar, essentially it is this: Just as you want to go to sleep, and the house is serene and quiet, your cat will go bananas. Your 9 year old tired tabby suddenly becomes a kitten again, and wants to play with you all night long!
Letting a little kitten energy into our lives could do us all a lot of good. Have a play, have some fun and let out some energy. Maybe try a new sport, or simply let yourself really let go and laugh at your favourite comedy. Have fun and act like a child, just for the sake of it.

And finally…

Rest

Cats sleep for an average of 15 hours a day. Admittedly, they don’t have jobs to hold down or blog posts to publish, but that’s not to say we can’t take inspiration from them here too.
Cats know that rest is important, particularly if they’re going to enjoy an enthusiastic crazy hour!
Rest is so key for humans to. You know the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup‘? So true. Your work will suffer and your relationships will suffer if you are not able to properly rest and recooperate ono a regular basis.
I don’t know what that rest looks like to you. Perhaps it’s an extra hour in bed on Sunday, or maybe it’s your weekly yoga class, or a solo coffee date on a Saturday morning. Make sure you have enough rest to let your body – and mind – recover from your busy schedule.

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That was just four quick ideas of how you can introduce more ‘cat’ into your lifestyle. If you have any more ideas, or you know how you’re going to incorporate one of these into your week, please do let me know in the comments below. 🙂

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