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How to Overcome Needle Anxiety

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Shots have been at the forefront of discussions for the last year, but what people are not discussing is something that is near and dear to me. Fear of needles. Today I am sharing my story and tips on how to work through needle anxiety.

Disclosure: This post is made possible with support from the Meg Foundation. All opinions are my own.

My Shot Story

I have few memories as a child, but I strongly remember the day I became terrified of getting a shot. I was about 4 or 5, and we were at a local clinic getting my well-child check-up for the year.

Classic 1980's kid photo

My mom will tell you that I was perfectly compliant and ok with having shots before this. However, that day, the shot went wrong, and I ended up having a needle jabbed into my leg so hard that I remember not being able to really walk for about a week.

30 something woman

It was traumatic, and from that point on, having any sort of needle, vaccine, or anything near me induced a crippling fear that caused a grown woman to hide and have a panic attack anytime a doctor or nurse pulled a needle out.

How to Overcome Needle Anxiety

It took time but when I finally became pregnant with our son, I knew that I would need to get used to needles because what I dislike more than needles is pain and I was getting that epidural. So I did some research and was able to utilize some techniques to work through my needle anxiety.

Getting a vaccine
  • Make a Plan: Before I went in for any medical visits, I went through some calming exercises and then walked myself through what getting the shot would be like. Visualizing actually helped me to feel like I had control and would be ok.
  • Speak Up: I took that plan and made sure to give the nurse or doctor my back story and let them know what I needed and how I visualized the shot going.
  • Block: Ask for numbing medications if needed. They also have some OTC options that work, too. A little lidocaine cream can go a long way.
  • Distract: Do not look. You do not have to. Take a deep breath, let the practitioner know when you are ready and then distract yourself from your thoughts and feelings

Needle anxiety is hugely common with around 25% of people experiencing it and research has shown that action is the enemy of anxiety. With a plan, you can absolutely get that shot, bloodwork, or IV.

#HacktheVax image with vaccine card

Meg Foundation

Resources were critical for me to overcome that needle fear and anxiety and that is why I am so glad to share about the Meg Foundation. They have a goal to empower families to prevent and relieve pain and have been instrumental in helping many people #hackthevax.

Meg Foundation Logo

They have resources for children and adults at Hack the Vax, and they are providing data based on research that is empirically validated and approved by some of the top pain experts in the world. Make sure to check them out to learn about the amazing work and information they are providing to help people like me face my needle anxiety and take control of my medical treatment.

Think Plan Go

Needle anxiety is common. Chances are you know or are someone that experiences it. Sharing resources and supporting one another can be huge in helping a person work through their needle anxiety. Simply follow the Think-Plan-Go technique.

  • THINK about someone that might be scared of needles.
  • PLAN: Help them make a plan (use this awesome plan-building tool) and support them as they conquer their fear.
  • GO: Advocate for them to make their appointments and get that shot without fear. Support them and be the superhero that they need to empower themselves and move our whole community to a safer state.

Think, plan and go get your shot without needle anxiety, and pass on these techniques because you never know when someone else is feeling nervous.

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