Want the COVID-19 vaccine but too scared of needles?
As the coronavirus vaccination programme rolls out across the world, as many as 1 in 10 experience severe fear and phobic responses over needles. So you are not alone, and as you will discover in this article you can overcome your fear.
My name is Oliver. M. James. I am a certified professional hypnotist based in Belgium. I specialise in helping people all over the world overcome fear and anxiety in a whole range of contexts.
This article is designed to help you understand that you can completely overcome your fear or needles.
Understanding Your Fear
Let's start with 4 statements.
- A fear is a natural response to perceived danger
- A phobia is a systematic severe panic response. Reactions may include fainting, violent responses, screaming, hyperventilating, heart palpitations that can occur in response to the perceived danger or in order to avoid being faced with the fear.
- Humans have the ability to do one-trial learning. We can learn something once, and always remember to do it.
- Humans can develop fears and phobias around almost anything from spiders, clowns, flying to plastic cups.
Sometimes with different forms of therapy we can be tempted to find out the root cause or logical explanation for our behaviour, sometimes you may find one, there's no guarantee that it's the correct one, but it is not necessary for you to overcome your fear for good.
However it's important to understand a couple of things about fears and phobias.
It is quite normal to have a concern to having sharp things stuck inside us, however there is a clear difference a between being apprehensive to having a severe panic.
A Fear is a Learned Behaviour
A fear is a learned behaviour, it has been learnt over time in different ways, through perceived traumatic experiences, through what we are told by our parents, friends, from what we see in the media, and from experiences in early childhood.
"It is possible for anyone, at anytime, to develop a fear of anything."
It is possible for anyone, at anytime, to develop a fear of anything. It could be common things such as spiders, snakes, water, flying and even stuff that may seem totally normal such as teddy bears, buttons, shiny surfaces.
The anticipatory anxiety which you may experience before an injection. Like a warning light coming on in the car, is your body's way of protecting you from a perceived danger.
Sometimes anxiety can manifest itself in physical symptoms such as a knot in the stomach, a lack of sleep, heart palpitations, sweating. You may also find worst case scenarios running through your mind, over and over.
Fainting or Feeling Faint During Injections
You may have experienced a situation where you felt faint, had cold sweats or even fainted during an injection. The emotional stress can cause our blood pressure to drop.
The experience of feeling faint or fainting during an injection, can then create an association in the mind around needles and medical environments leading reinforcing the existing fear even more, and maybe building other situations into the mix too. Sometimes we can find that the response occurs with increasing frequency and severity.
An Automatic Response
This learned response is also an automatic response, an unconscious response which can sometimes create the impression that it is out of your control, which of course adds yet more stress to an already stressful situation.
To add to that, when in a situation of extreme stress, it activates the natural protection mechanisms in the brain, the so called fight, flight or freeze response.
All this uses up a lot of energy and in this state, we lose our ability to think rationally.
The Role of Imagination
Imagination at a first glance, can be quickly discarded as only being in the imagination and therefore not serious. Yet, what we imagine has an impact on our body. Stress itself occurs in the imagination and then manifests itself in the body. Stress is a major cause behind many illnesses and work related absences.
The problematic fear exists within the imagination too, so it makes sense that we can use the imagination as part of the solution to solve the issue.
How to Overcome a Fear of Needles
There are different strategies you can use to overcome it completely before or during the injection, but the key is to prepare and understand that this is not who you are, rather it's just a natural response which is occurring.
Many people overcome fears from repeated exposure and facing the fears head on, however many people this is simply not an option. So here are some other options.
Working with a trained hypnotist or hypnotherapist can guide you through the process of overcoming a fear in a very short space of time, sometimes in one single session. You can experience hypnosis these days online, and it's one of the most effective and efficient ways to overcome a fear of needles.
Hypnosis these days is no longer a question of belief, evidence based research shows us how effective it can be in a range of issues from anxiety and chronic pain relief to sports performance. Instead it's about giving you more control over behaviours which you no longer want to do, but find difficult to stop by yourself.
We'll typically begin with an initial free consultation so you know that it's right for you.
During the session you'll be guided through the process which involves some questions and then techniques adapted to your specific needs.
You may experience some profound relaxation, but the the session is very interactive.
Master Your Self Talk
The stories we tell ourselves matter, and have a direct impact on our body. If you go into the situation believing it is going to be awful, you'll set yourself up for that experience. Instead, you can imagine the situation going how you want it to go.
It is difficult to feel anxious and relaxed at the same time, you may like my upper body relaxation technique for stress relief, which you can use in the waiting room.
Rewire the Brain with Mind-Body Tools
Your brain is constantly learning, and you can literally re-wire almost any habitual pattern, no matter how long you have had it.
The key is starting, practice and tuning into the feeling you get as you imagine yourself in that situation. In my free anxiety course, you'll find a series of tools you can practice by yourself to help you.
If you often find yourself feeling light-headed during injections. You can practice tensing the muscles of the arms, body, legs, and toes for 10-15 seconds, rest for 30 seconds and then repeat about 5 times.
If you take away anything from this article, it is that you need not have to be stuck or paralysed by this fear. There are alternative ways to overcome a fear other than just bare-knuckled exposure.
Prepare well, and asking for professional help can go a long way.
Oliver M. James
Founder, Boost Hypnosis