How to not be nervous for jabs? (Tips)

In this guide, we will discuss “How to not be nervous for jabs”. Also, we will mention a couple of useful tips if you have a needle phobia or you have an intense fear of injections. Since it only takes a couple of seconds, the best advice is to distract yourself from the shot but we have included more tips.

How to not be nervous for jabs?

If you wonder ‘How to not be nervous for jabs?’ we can start by saying it is completely normal to feel nervous. Moreover, tell your doctor or nurse that you are nervous before getting the shot, they may even help you feel more relaxed since they usually see many people throughout the day under the same situation, so they are used to it and may have valuable tips. Here are some useful tips you could follow:

  • Distract yourself while you are waiting. Take a book with you, read a magazine or watch a video of something you find funny.
  • Take slow and deep breaths before getting the shot.
  • Cough once before and once during your shot
  • Relax your arm and try to look away. You could also sing a song or start describing things you see in the room (i.e. textures, colours, etc.).

You would be surprised by the number of people that fear getting a vaccine or injection, so know that you are not alone. Some people are just more afraid because their pain threshold is lower than others, so try asking the nurse or doctor if you can use a numbing cream or try applying a warm compress to the area for at least 20 minutes before your shot.

Moreover, try to request a thin needle or a butterfly needle since they can be more precise than standard needles and are often used on people with needle phobia. However, there are many other ways to deal with your nerves for jabs, here we will talk about the ones we have mentioned more in-depth and some additional tips.

Distract yourself while you wait

As we have mentioned, distracting yourself while you wait can become very useful since anxiety will start to build up before going in for your injection. Bring a book, read a magazine or watch silly videos that make you laugh so you’ll be distracted from thinking about the shot. If distracting yourself 

Try to understand your fear

Prepare yourself by confronting your fear and especially try to understand why you are really afraid of. For instance, it could be the momentary pain or the pain you get to feel afterwards. Before going to your appointment you could take a look at some pictures online of needles and injections to get used to them initially and when you start feeling more comfortable you could take it to the next level by handling real syringes (preferably new) a few minutes during your day. 

Moreover, it might be very useful not only to expose yourself to your fear (gradually) but also to consider the source of your fear. Maybe you had a bad experience when you were a child (i.e. being in the hospital often) or a traumatizing event through certain procedures. If you try to go back and determine when this fear may have started, it can help you confront it.

Contrast your fear with reality

You may be fully aware by now that we have many fears that are irrational but we still keep fearing the same things. If you focus on how this injection is going to help you or why you need it then you can stop dwelling on it. People don’t get injections because they like them but because they need them and to prevent getting sick or as part of a treatment.

Moreover, to help you contrast your fear with reality, try to write down the list of concerns you may have. For instance, you could say ‘injections are painful’ but try to change the thought with something positive such as ‘they keep people healthy’ or ‘I need it to get better’.

Deep breathing

When we are nervous or anxious, our breathing pattern shifts and becomes superficial. This means our body starts to get a lower amount of oxygen because it is sending all the available resources to your muscles to prepare you to flee from the situation or fight it. 

Instead, consciously take slow and deep breaths. To do this, place one hand on top of your chest and the other one on top of your belly. Breath in through your nose and feel how the hand you have placed on top of your belly starts to move while the other hand stays still.

Repeat the exercise a couple of times until you feel more relaxed and how your muscles aren’t tensing anymore. 

How to not be nervous for jabs? (Tips)

Cough before and while having your shot

According to Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD, “Research shows that coughing once before and once during the shot can help some people feel less pain.” However, don’t start coughing a lot since moving too much while the nurse or doctor is trying to give you the shot can be detrimental and can become painful.

The idea is to relax your arm as much as possible because if you tense the muscle, it can hurt even more while getting the shot and after.

Relaxing and tensing your muscles

This is a very useful technique when you feel anxious or nervous. You could feel a bit light-headed or about to faint if you have an intense fear of needles and injections. To combat this feeling, practice tensing and relaxing your muscles. Here are the steps:

  • Sit comfortably in a position where you have your feet touching the floor.
  • Begin tensing the muscles of your arms, legs and your upper body but not all at once. Try doing it by sections or groups of muscles. Maintain the tension for each set for about 10 to 15 seconds and then release.
  • Wait 30 seconds and repeat.
  • Try doing this exercise a couple of times until you feel more relaxed.

Bring someone with you

Ask a loved one or someone you trust to come with you whenever you need to get a shot. If you have someone there to support you, will make things easier for you and will boost your confidence. If needed, ask them to hold your hand while the doctor or nurse are administering the shot. Try to focus on them instead of the shot.

How to not be nervous for jabs? (Tips)

Follow the instructions

Your nurse or doctor may ask you to position your body correctly. After the shot, you may want to keep lying a little longer with your head down and feet slightly elevated to avoid having the feeling of fainting. Don’t try to jump and run out as soon as they are done since it can make you feel worse. Take your time and listen to further instructions your doctor or nurse may give you.

You could try closing your eyes while lying down and placing one hand on the tip of your stomach while you practice the deep breathing exercises we talked previously. 

Why is this blog about How to not be nervous for jabs important?

Having this type of phobia is more common than you think and there is no need to freak out. As we have discussed, there are many ways to deal with being nervous or anxious before and during your injection. For instance, distracting yourself before the injection, analysing and understanding why you have this fear in the first place can help you contrast your negative thoughts with reality. Moreover, exposing yourself to it (gradually) will help you overcome the fear.

Finally, deep breathing exercises, as well as muscle tension and relaxation, can become very useful before and during your shot. Try bringing someone with you for emotional support and while doing so, make sure you are following all the instructions from the person that is administering the shot. After you are done, take your time and stay seated for a while to prevent yourself from feeling lightheaded or about to faint. Remember, there is no rush. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to not be nervous for jabs

How can I stop being scared of injections?

If you want to stop being scared of injections try the following:
– Focus on something else/distract yourself from what is happening.

– Bring along something with sugar such as a candy bar or lollipop.
– It will help release endorphins, diminishing the sensation of pain.

– Emla patches. These patches will numb the area if applied for about one hour before getting the injection.

Why am I so afraid of shots?

If you are so afraid of shots you may have trypanophobia, which is an extreme fear of medical procedures such as injections or hypodermic needles. This is very common in children because they are not used to the sensation of their skin being pricked by something sharp.

What happens if you tense up during a shot?

If you tense up during a shot, the muscle will create resistance against the needle and will increase the pain since the nurse needs to push harder to get the needle into your muscle. The best thing to do is to let your arm go limp and fall to the side, saving you from hours or even days of discomfort and pain.

How do I not feel a shot?

If you want to minimize the sensation of feeling a shot, try to distract yourself from it. Also, concentrate on your breathing and try to focus on something in the room, you could also count until ten or sing a song. Also, relax your arm, otherwise, you may feel even more pain than you would have to if you were relaxed.

How painful is an injection?

How pain is perceived will depend on your pain threshold. In reality, an injection will cause minimal discomfort, especially if it is a subcutaneous injection. In contrast, intramuscular injections seem to be more painful since the needles need to through the muscle.

References 

Ben-Joseph, E.P. (n.d.) 5 Tips for Surviving Shots. Retrieved from kidshealth.org. 

Griffin, T. (2020, Apr.) How to Overcome the Fear of Injections. Retrieved from Wikihow.com.

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.