How to relax at the doctor’s office

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By Alison Johnson

Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Going to the doctor for a checkup or a diagnosis is near the bottom of many people’s list of desired activities. Nurses pass along these tips for feeling less on edge:

Leave early for an appointment. If you rush out the door and are running late, you’ll get to the office already stressed out. But expect to wait. Doctors try to run on time, but the reality is they often don’t. Bring something relaxing to do in the waiting room, such as a favorite book or magazine, a book of puzzles, a knitting project or an iPod.

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Avoid caffeine. Stop drinking soda, coffee and other caffeinated products at least an hour before your appointment. Caffeine can cause extra jitters and also raise your blood pressure.

Bring company. Ask family member or friend to come to your appointment. You’ll have a nice distraction in the waiting room and, if you want, an extra set of ears when your doctor gives you advice.

Communicate your fears. Tell your doctor up front if you are nervous and let her know what part of an appointment scares you the most.

Stay in the loop. Have your doctor explain what’s going on at different stages of the visit to avoid surprises.

Use visualization. During shots and blood draws, close your eyes and picture yourself in a favorite place (looking away from needles also can help reduce pain). Relax your muscles as much as possible and breathe slowly and deeply.

Try not to be embarrassed. While you may feel uncomfortable with being naked or discussing sensitive health topics, your doctor likely has seen and heard it all before – often many times a day.

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