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.
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.
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…
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.
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.