5 Ways to Calm a Patient Before a Shot
Getting shots can be a stressful experience for people of all ages, not just children. As a nurse, you probably know that there are a lot of people out there who have a fear of needles. Believe it or not, there are things you can do as a nurse to help make the experience of getting a shot as easy as possible for these people.
We’ve put together a list of 5 ways you can calm a patient before they get a shot to make their experience a little better and make your day a little easier.
Distract them with conversation
One of the best ways to calm a patient is to distract them with good conversation. If they are concentrated on what they are saying to you, they are less focused on the situation at hand.
Chelle from Scrubs Magazine says, “after explaining what I’m going to do, I usually engage them in some kind of conversation. They are usually surprised when it’s all over with. Distraction is a good friend for a nurse!”1
Humor is a easy way to calm people in a multitude of situations. Get your patient laughing with a good joke or funny story to calm their nerves, and more importantly distract them from the shot they are about to receive.
According to Cathy from Nurse Buff, using her humor at work can really make giving shots easier for the patient and herself. “I never thought I’d be able to use my sense of humor at work. I found out though that if I joke with patients while I’m giving a shot, the whole ordeal passes by almost unnoticed. The good laugh helps them relax and forget about the pain from the injection given.2
Encourage good breathing habits
Good breathing habits can help calm the patient, as well as relax their muscles, which will make the entire process run more smoothly.
PBA Health suggests “ask nervous patients to inhale for a count of four, and then exhale for a count of four all through their nose. Count or breathe with them and continue the breathing exercise until they calm down. Using this, or another calming breathing exercise, can prevent a panic attack and relax a nervous patient on the brink of a meltdown.”3
They also point out that calm breathing will relax the patient’s muscles, making the shot less painful.3
Channel nervous energy in children
It is quite common for children to be afraid of needles and shots. An easy way to calm children before their shot is to channel their nervous energy before they have a meltdown.
“Instead of fighting kids with nervous energy, embrace it and channel their fidgets into positive movements,” PBA Health says. “Conduct a one-minute dance party, do simple yoga poses or do power poses, where you pretend to be a superhero, to get kids moving and loosened up before the shot.”
Use applied tension for those who may faint
There is always a chance that a patient may faint after receiving a shot. An easy way to avoid this is to encourage your patient to utilize applied tension.
According to Nurse Buff, “applied tension is a technique of increasing low blood pressure level back to normal range to prevent fainting. To do this, tense your muscles in the arms, legs and upper body for ten to fifteen seconds. Once you feel the warmth rising in your face, release the tension and relax. Do this repeatedly until you feel your blood pressure has gone back to normal levels.”
Having your patient focus on tensing their muscles also distracts them from the shot they are about to receive.
While this is not a comprehensive list of tactics that will help calm a patient before a shot, it is definitely a good start. Try using one of these techniques next time you come across a patient with a fear of needles.
What do you do to calm your patients when they are nervous? Tell us in the comments below!