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Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety

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Relaxation Techniques

Knowing a few simple relaxation and focusing techniques can help you avoid tensing your muscles or becoming faint during any difficult medical procedure. Although the medical staff performing these procedures are usually good at making small talk and creating distractions that take your mind off your discomfort, you can also soothe yourself or an anxious patient with the following techniques. If you are anxious about medical tests and need them frequently, you will find it helpful to practice these skills at home to make them even more effective when you need them.

Breathe — Take three slow breaths, counting to three for each one and breathing through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth, counting to six. Push your stomach out as you breathe in (to breathe more deeply). Slow down if you start to feel lightheaded.

Relax Your Muscles — Consciously relax your muscles. Let them feel loose.

Focus — Find a focal point to look at or envision a pleasing image.

Count — Count slowly and silently to ten.

Talk — Chat with someone in the room. The distraction can relax you.

The book Caregiving suggests that anyone who suffers from high anxiety about medical tests should talk with the physician or nurse about the anxiety. The physician may recommend a mental health professional who can help you with these feelings if your anxiety is severe or prevents you from obtaining treatment, or s/he may prescribe medicine to help you relax. Many anti-nausea medications, for example, decrease anxiety as a natural side effect.

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