Flu Shot Effectiveness Boosted By Listening to Your Favorite Song, Researchers Find

Cynthia Foreman receives a free flu shot in Oakland, California. Many insurance companies and organizations offer free flu shots during the season. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The mere thought of getting a flu shot is enough to put anyone in a bad mood. However, a new study indicates you might want to check your mood in order for the vaccination to be more effective.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham studied how various factors, such as physical activity, diet, sleep and mood (both positive and negative) impacted flu shot effectiveness. As the influenza vaccination tends to work less in older adults, the team enlisted 138 people between 65 and 85 years old for the study. Participants completed a behavioral evaluation for two weeks leading up the vaccine and for four weeks following. Then, researchers measured levels of the flu antibody found in each person's blood after four weeks and 16 weeks post inoculation.

Related: Getting Shots May be a Thing of the Past as Band-Aid Patch Replaces Flu Vaccine

Typically, a healthy diet, exercise and sleep seem to remedy many health-related concerns, but mood was the only factor linked to flu vaccination effectiveness, and being upbeat the day-of had an even greater effect, according to the data.

As there's no way to ensure you don't contract the flu completely, this new study might be an easy strategy that can help you combat germs this season.

"Many of the factors that affect how well vaccines work are factors we can't change such as age and illnesses. The significance of this work lies in the fact that it suggests that something we can change, i.e., mood, might be important," lead study author Kavita Vedhara, Ph.D., health psychologist, told Newsweek via email.

This is an observational study, so it's important to remember that there is no cause-and-effect relationship, but Vedhara says the team hopes to conduct a trial where they can control mood and evaluate vaccination effectiveness.

While more research is necessary, it's probably not a bad idea to boost your mood before going in for the flu shot. One way is to manage that dreaded fear of needles, which isn't just found in children, though Dr. Simon Rego, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center, says estimates are very broad but can reach 40 percent. He believes the more you reduce your fear of needles ahead of time, the less likely your mood is to be negatively impacted.

When unpleasant thoughts creep into your head, Rego advises redirecting your energy towards something more positive, like why you want to get the flu shot in the first place. Bringing your favorite book or listening to music could also help divert attention from the unpleasant event.

The doctor believes it's only natural for us to fear needles, even deep into adulthood, so there's no need to feel silly about developing a pre-shot strategy. In fact, our brains are wired to be suspicious of the whole process.

"There's something very wrong with someone sticking metal into me and removing blood from me," Rego asserts. "There's this old brain that says, 'No, no, no. This is not a good idea."

Just breathe, relax and maybe listen to Beyonce.