How to Overcome Tattoo Nerves and Anxiety

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 22, 2023
    Last Updated: April 7, 2023

Getting a tattoo can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if it’s your first time. If you’re feeling anxious about getting inked, here are some tips to help you overcome your tattoo nerves and anxiety.

What are the Main Causes of Tattoo Anxiety?

Tattoo anxiety can stem from a variety of factors, and it’s important to identify the root cause of your anxiety so you can address it. Here are some of the main causes of tattoo anxiety:

  1. Fear of Pain: Many people are afraid of the pain associated with getting a tattoo. The fear of pain can be especially prevalent if it’s your first tattoo, or if you’re getting a tattoo in a sensitive area.
  2. Fear of Needles: The idea of being repeatedly poked with a needle can be daunting, especially for those who have a phobia of needles or injections. This fear can make the thought of getting a tattoo overwhelming and even unbearable.
  3. Fear of the Unknown: If you’ve never had a tattoo before, the process can be intimidating. The unknown can be scary, and not knowing what to expect can cause anxiety.
  4. Fear of Regret: A tattoo is a permanent decision, and some people may worry that they’ll regret their tattoo in the future. This fear of regret can cause anxiety and hesitation.
  5. Fear of Judgment: Some people may worry about what others will think of their tattoo. This fear of judgment can cause anxiety, especially if you’re getting a tattoo in a visible area.
  6. Past Trauma: If you’ve had a negative experience in the past related to needles, pain, or medical procedures, this can cause anxiety about getting a tattoo.
  7. Cultural or Religious Beliefs: In some cultures or religions, tattoos are not accepted or may be seen as taboo. If you come from a background where tattoos are not common, you may feel anxious about getting one.

Identifying the main cause of your tattoo anxiety can help you develop a plan to overcome it. Whether it’s practicing relaxation techniques, talking to your artist about your concerns, or choosing a less sensitive area for your tattoo, there are many strategies to help you overcome your tattoo anxiety and have a positive tattoo experience.

How to Ease Your Nerves

Prepare Yourself Mentally

Mental preparation is essential when it comes to overcoming tattoo nerves and anxiety. Take some time to reflect on why you want a tattoo and what it means to you. Visualize yourself getting the tattoo and imagine the feeling of satisfaction you’ll have once it’s finished.

Choose a Reputable Tattoo Artist

Choosing a reputable tattoo artist is crucial when it comes to reducing your tattoo anxiety. Not all tattoo artists are created equal, and finding an artist who is skilled, experienced, and uses safe and sterile practices can make all the difference in your tattoo experience.

When researching tattoo artists, consider their portfolio of work, their experience level, and their reputation in the community. Look for artists who have a consistent style that matches the type of tattoo you want, and read reviews or ask for recommendations from friends or family. Once you’ve found an artist you like, schedule a consultation to discuss your ideas and ask any questions you may have.

During the consultation, make sure to ask about the artist’s experience level, their sterilization practices, and their availability. A good artist will be open and honest about their experience, and will have a clean and professional studio. You may also want to discuss the design of your tattoo and any concerns you have, such as the level of detail or the placement of the tattoo.

Communicate with Your Artist

Communication is essential when it comes to getting a tattoo. Your artist wants to create a tattoo that you love, and they can’t do that without your input. It’s important to communicate your ideas and concerns with your artist so that they can create a design that meets your expectations.

If you’re feeling anxious or nervous about the tattoo process, let your artist know. They may have some techniques or suggestions to help calm your nerves, such as taking breaks or using numbing cream. Your artist is there to make the process as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, and they want to create a positive experience for you.

During the tattoo process, make sure to communicate with your artist if you’re experiencing discomfort or if you need a break. Your artist wants you to be comfortable and will be happy to make adjustments to the process if necessary.

Bring a Distraction

Bringing a distraction can help take your mind off the tattoo process and reduce your anxiety. Consider bringing a book, music, or a friend to chat with during the session.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques can be helpful when it comes to overcoming tattoo nerves and anxiety. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or visualization techniques can help calm your mind and reduce stress levels.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself before and after getting a tattoo is crucial in reducing your anxiety levels. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy meal, and stay hydrated. After the tattoo, follow your artist’s aftercare instructions and avoid any activities that could compromise the healing process.

Other methods include:

  1. Bring a Support Person: Bringing a friend or family member to the tattoo appointment can provide emotional support and help you feel more relaxed.
  2. Listen to Music: Listening to music or a podcast can help distract you from the tattoo process and reduce anxiety.
  3. Use Visualization Techniques: Visualize a relaxing or happy place in your mind to help calm your nerves. Imagine yourself in a peaceful setting or doing an activity you enjoy.
  4. Ask for Breaks: It’s okay to ask your artist for a break if you need one. This can help you collect yourself and regain your composure.
  5. Use Numbing Cream: If you’re concerned about the pain, consider using a numbing cream beforehand. Numbing creams can help reduce discomfort during the tattoo process.
  6. Stay Positive: Try to maintain a positive attitude and remind yourself why you wanted the tattoo in the first place. Focus on the end result and the satisfaction you’ll feel once it’s finished.

Remember, it’s normal to feel nervous before getting a tattoo. It’s a permanent decision, and it’s important to take the time to find the right artist and design for you. By preparing yourself mentally, communicating with your artist, and using relaxation techniques, you can overcome your tattoo anxiety and have a positive tattoo experience.

Overcoming Common Fears and Myths About Tattoos

Tattoos have a long and storied history, and as such, they have become surrounded by various myths and misconceptions. These myths and fears can add to the anxiety and nervousness some people may feel before getting a tattoo. Here are some common myths and fears about tattoos and how to overcome them:

Fear of Pain

Pain is a common fear when it comes to getting a tattoo. While tattoos can be uncomfortable, the pain is usually manageable and temporary. Talk to your artist about pain management techniques such as numbing cream, and keep in mind that the end result is worth a bit of discomfort.

Fear of Needles

Fear of Needles: Fear of needles is a common concern when it comes to getting a tattoo. It’s important to remember that tattoo needles are different from medical needles and are much smaller and less painful. Additionally, your artist can use numbing cream or distraction techniques to help ease your fear.

Fear of Judgment

Some people may worry about what others will think of their tattoo. Remember that tattoos are a personal choice, and it’s important to do what makes you happy. Overcoming this fear can involve focusing on your own happiness and satisfaction with your tattoo.

Fear of Regret

A permanent tattoo can be a source of anxiety for some people. However, by carefully choosing a reputable artist and taking the time to think through your design, you can feel confident that you’ll be happy with your tattoo for years to come. If you do experience regret, there are removal and cover-up options available.

Fear of Stereotypes

Tattoos are sometimes associated with negative stereotypes, such as criminality or rebellion. However, this perception is changing, and tattoos are becoming more accepted in mainstream society. To overcome this fear, remind yourself that your tattoo is a personal expression of your values and beliefs.

Fear of Infection

Many people are afraid of getting an infection from a tattoo. However, reputable tattoo artists use sterile equipment, follow proper hygiene practices, and maintain a clean studio to prevent the spread of infection. To overcome this fear, choose a reputable artist who follows safe and sterile practices.

By understanding and overcoming these common myths and fears about tattoos, you can approach the tattoo process with confidence and excitement.


Getting a tattoo can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can overcome your tattoo nerves and anxiety. Choose a reputable artist, communicate your feelings, bring a distraction, practice relaxation techniques, and take care of yourself. Remember, getting a tattoo is a personal choice, and it should be a positive and empowering experience.

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