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Worried about having your blood taken?

Patient information A-Z

You are not alone! Up to 10% of people get anxious about medical procedures. This is particularly common for people who have had lots of medical procedures, especially when they were children.

There are things you can do to help


Tell your nurse that you are worried. They see lots of people who are worried about needles. They won’t think badly of you and it will help them to look after you.

While you are waiting:

Distract yourself – listen to music, read or look at pictures in a magazine, look at photos on your phone, play a game, text a friend.

Remind yourself why you are having the procedure. Remind yourself that it will be a relatively brief procedure.

Relaxation may help

  • Imagine a place you feel relaxed (a holiday scene, for example). Build a picture in detail in your head, including sounds, sensations, smells….
  • Breathe slowly and gently. Count how long your “in” breath takes, and try to breathe out for the same count, if this is comfortable. Maybe put one hand on your stomach and see if you can feel this rise and fall as you breathe.

During the procedure

  • Look away.
  • Distract yourself – talk to your nurse, count the ceiling tiles, count all the items of one colour in the room, describe the room in detail to your nurse
  • Continue your slow breathing
  • Breathe out slowly while the needle is inserted

In the longer term

You can reduce your anxiety by gradually getting yourself accustomed to seeing needles, while also using relaxation exercises.

You can do this using our Self Help pack for Needle Phobia. Ask your nurse about this. Your nurse and / or the psychologist can help you to work through this pack.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151