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Scared Of Needles? Why Looking Away May Actually Work

If the thought of blood or pointy needles makes your stomach turn, then injections are probably your worst case scenario.

We may try to close our eyes, think of our happy place or even ask a friend to hold our hand. Health professionals are now advising people to look away, according to a study from the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

But looking away will still make us anticipate the pain, says chief executive officer Dr. Sanjeev Sharma of Wellpoint Health Clinic in Toronto. He says, however, being scared of pointy needles is nothing out of the ordinary.

"So many needles are given to us as children and it still has some effect on us. As adults, we don't get them as often and that fear of being in a closed room continues into adulthood," he says.

But the actual poke itself has changed, believe it or not. "The size of needles has changed -- we are now able to make them thinner, so the pain is actually less. Most adults also get needles on their arms [as opposed to their bottoms when they were children]," he says.

Fear the dreaded poke? Here are 5 ways to conquer your fear:

Normalize It

5 Ways To Get Over A Fear Of Needles

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Normalize It:

If you're worried about being poked, you're not alone. Dr. Sanjeev Sharma of Wellpoint Health Clinic in Toronto says most patients fear needles and that's completely normal. "The only people that like needles are people using drugs, so fear is normal," he says.

Just Look Away:

While one study suggests looking away may stop the pain, Dr. Sharma says thinking of a positive memory can also help. Some of his patients imagine being injected with warm water for example, to distract themselves.

Tune Out:

Don't just whip out your music device as soon as you anticipate the pain. Dr. Sharma says tuning out should start in the waiting room -- this way your body is already relaxed.

Squeeze Em':

Now, this will only work if you squeeze them at the right time. Dr. Sharma suggests stress balls are a great way to distract yourself from the pain -- while keeping your body at minimal movement during an injection. To prep, make sure you bring the ball with you as you sit in the waiting room.

Think About Another Body Part:

We know, you would rather be on a beach soaking up some sun. Thinking about vacations is one way to distract yourself but Dr. Sharma also suggests thinking about being injected in another body part. This way, you might begin to anticipate the pain in another spot -- while forgetting about the obvious poke.

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