Many people get a bit queasy at the sight of blood or needles, but for a rare few, it triggers fainting or near-fainting. This can be due to a sudden drop in heart rate or blood pressure. Anxious moments typically cause an increase in these, making actual fainting from anxiety unusual. However, a small minority may experience a sudden drop in blood pressure when faced with blood or needles, resulting in fainting. This response is called the vasovagal response.
Fortunately, there’s a way to prevent this: The Applied Tension Technique involves tensing muscles, which raises your blood pressure, making fainting less likely. To do it, sit comfortably, tense your arm, leg, and trunk muscles for 10-15 seconds, feel the warmth in your head, then relax for 20-30 seconds. Repeat five times. Practice is key for this technique to be effective, and you should practice for at least a week before using it in exposure exercises with blood or needles. Learn more about the Applied Tension Technique to prevent anxiety with this downloadable PDF.