[Skip to Content]

Do shots make you nervous? You're not alone. Lots of people dread them because they have a very real fear of needles. So next time your doc asks you to roll up your sleeve, try these tips:

  1. Distract yourself while you're waiting. Bring along a game, book, music, or movie — something you'll get completely caught up in so you're not sitting in the waiting room thinking about the shot. Some doctors' offices schedule "shot clinics" where they do nothing but give shots so the wait time is shorter.
  2. Concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths. Breathe all the way down into your belly. Deep breathing can help people relax — and concentrating on something other than the shot can take your mind off it.
  3. Focus intently on something in the room. Find a picture, poster, or a sign on the wall. Concentrate on the details: If you're looking at a painting, for example, try counting the number of flowers in the garden, cows in the field, or other images. Identify things in the room that make you feel safe or comfortable. Consider focusing on other senses too. What sounds can you hear? What do you feel (e.g., the seat, temperature, your own clothes, etc.)? Whatever it takes, keep focusing on something other than the shot until it's over.
  4. Cough. Research shows that coughing once before and once during the shot can help some people feel less pain.
  5. Relax your arm. If you're tense, it can make a shot hurt more — especially if you tense up the area where you're getting the shot.

Sometimes people feel lightheaded or faint after getting a shot. If you feel funny, sit or lie down and rest for 15 minutes.

Don't hesitate to tell the medical team that you're nervous before getting the shot. They're used to people who are afraid of shots and can help you relax. They also often have different options to help reduce discomfort/pain during shots.

If you're very anxious about getting shots, consider talking to a mental health provider. They can help ease worries and teach you other coping techniques.

Medically reviewed by: Zachary Radcliff, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2023