Tips to help you stay calm during your cervical smear

I had my smear test last week. I put it off for over a year. I don’t normally put them off, but I was due around the same time I had spinal surgery and I think i was in too much pain to even think about it.

After that, I just kept putting it off. I didn’t even have a reason, I just didn’t want to go.

I had some great friends (and one very persistent one) who wouldn’t let up and kept pushing me to book. 

I kept seeing cervical cancer stories pop up on my Facebook newsfeed and every time I saw one it pushed me that little bit closer to booking.

I’m writing this because I hope my post will push someone else that little bit closer to booking too.

Once I had it done I realised that all the thinking (and fretting) about it I’d done, was actually worse than the test itself.

The way I thought about the test (my inner voice) was the problem. I was my own worst enemy. 

Obviously it’s not a pleasant experience, but it is what we make it.

If we keep telling ourselves (and thinking) that it’s going to be horrible, awkward, unpleasant, painful etc. then it will be.

If we change our mindset and actually imagine an easy, straightforward and simple procedure, i believe it can be.

The mind is everything. What we think, is what we become. 

Here are some tips to help you relax during your smear test. The more relaxed you are the easier and less uncomfortable the examination will be.

Please be advised, I am not a doctor or a psychologist. I’m sharing tips that have helped me and those I’ve worked with during mindfulness classes. If you feel you need medical help, please seek it.

Positive affirmations

Choose one or two affirmations to repeat during the procedure (and before if needed). Positive affirmations are short positive statements that are designed to be repeated over and over in order to change the way you think and in turn the way you behave. 

The affirmations will help you develop a positive pre-test mindset. This type of mindset is one where you have no fear.

‘I am safe.’ ‘I am calm and relaxed.’ ‘I have complete faith in the nurse.’ ‘I can think about the test while staying calm.’

Let me know if you think of anymore, you can always make your own. 

Focus on your Breathing

During (and before) the smear test take deep breaths to relax the body and calm the mind. Inhale through the nose and count for 4 seconds and exhale through the mouth counting for 4 seconds, this will help to slow the heart rate down, whilst distracting your worrying or anxious mind.

Dress comfortably 

Wear something you feel comfortable in. Wearing a skirt or dress may help you feel less conscious. Don’t worry too much as you’ll be provided with some paper towel so you don’t feel too exposed (don’t just lie on it like I did).

Have something to look forward to

I bought a pork pie just before my smear test and sat in the car park and ate it straight after. Congratulations to me, here’s a pork pie. You can reward yourself with whatever treat you like – something that makes you happy. 

Find more information about the cervical smear test on the NHS website here.

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