Believe it or not, I once had a fear of needles. Many years ago when I was a child I instinctively swatted the nurse giving me an injection causing the needle to scrape all the way down my arm. That’s something that stuck with me all the way into my young adult years.
I think a lot of us have an innate fear of needles. If you didn’t know better would you hold out our arm and let someone pierce it with a sharp object? I don’t think so. So if the thought of doing so makes you weak in the knees then know that you most definitely aren’t alone.
How did I get past my fear? First off, I desensitized myself by giving injections. Second, I learned everything I could about vaccine-preventable diseases, which helped to remind myself that injections are important. And third, I had babies and that meant injections, blood draws, and IVs galore on top of everything else.
Injections are still unpleasant but definitely not unbearable. I’m not going to ever say that you’re going to be happy about getting stuck with a needle, but I think I can help you to tolerate the experience with minimal freakout.
Here are some ways to help you cope:
- Change your self-talk. Instead of telling yourself you’re scared, anxious, that vaccines are terrible… Replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. This will help you in all areas of life. You’re welcome. 😉
- Get educated. Why do you want this vaccine? Learn about these diseases (from reputable sources) to remind yourself you’d rather this than THAT. And although this may sound grotesque, my children always ask to look at pictures of diseases accompanied by my scare tactics (partly kidding) before getting their vaccines. It’s true! They need to be talked into it a bit and that’s okay. In a way, I think that this helps them to feel like they’ve made the choice to get vaccinated.
- Reward yourself. Is this not the best one?! You reward children for good behavior, don’t you? It’s totally cool to do that for yourself, too. Get that tetanus shot and then go get those shoes you’ve been wanting. You deserve it.
- Relax. I’m a huge fan of meditation as relief from anxiety. And believe it or not, you don’t have to be a Buddha to get this right. You can meditate anytime anywhere with just a few minutes and breaths. Check out some anxiety talk down meditations on YouTube and practice some of the techniques beforehand. You may even want to listen to one of these meditations while getting the injection. No shame.
- Still weak in the knees? Lay down and prop your legs up. This can lower your blood pressure and create a calming feeling. And guess what? If you plan on passing out, it’s all good–no concussion for you! All joking aside, I promise you that your nurse has seen it all (and worse) so just do what you need to do.
- Therapy. Not saying you need therapy, but there are therapists that can help you overcome extreme fear, or at least offer some great coping techniques. In my opinion, it’s commendable to seek help. Check with your insurance company because many will cover this service. Hallelujah!
- Request alternatives; there are several. If you’re worried about getting the flu shot, ask for the mist instead. And there are instances when getting blood taken that you might be able to get away with a smaller needle. Doesn’t hurt to ask. (Might hurt less.)
- Ask for an experienced nurse or practitioner. If you have a fear of needles opt out of letting the student nurse attempt an IV on you; this will do you both no good. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know that you have a fear of needles and need a senior nurse to perform the procedure.
- Numb up. No, no, no…hold that thought. I’m talking numbing cream–one that they can rub on the injection site to numb the pain before the injection takes place. They have it. Make them use it.
- None of that worked for you? Here’s the cure: TAKE YOUR KIDS. I mean take them with you. Stop cringing, I know no one wants to take their kids with them to a doctor appointment, but hear me out. Firstly, taking care of kids when they’re bored and hungry in a small room is about a million times rougher than the poke in the arm. Secondly, the first will completely distract you from the shot entering your arm. You’ll want so badly to get out of there that you will be begging the nurse to just get it over already. Thirdly, are you really going to let yourself wimp out in front of your kids? No, you’re going to take that like a champ, while holding back from passing out and saying, “see, that wasn’t so bad!” (Maybe you’ll start believing yourself.) And lastly, kids learn by example. Here’s the perfect opportunity to show them the importance of vaccines. Valuable lesson? I think so. Here’s a little more on how to talk to your kids about vaccines: How to talk to your children about vaccines
And there you have it. You don’t have to love needles, you don’t have to hate them either, just take it easy on yourself because you’re worth it. Go get your vaccines, folks!
Adults need vaccines, too! <- Read me!