MRIs are one of the safest and most commonly prescribed medical imaging procedures, but for first-time patients or those with issues of anxiety or claustrophobia, they are less than comfortable. Whether it’s your first or 100th scan, here are five tips that are sure to help you stay calm and relax during your next MRI.
1. Be informed
If this is going to be your first MRI, there are a few things you should expect. Some people experience MRI claustrophobia, but many don’t. MRIs take an average of 30-40 minutes to complete. Depending on what portion of your body is scanned, it can last anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour. Ask your doctor or technician about your specific exam and any other questions you may have.
2. Talk to your technician
There’s likely no one who knows more about MRIs than your technician. Asking them to answer frequently asked MRI questions before and after the scan is a great way to ease your mind and build some trust. Some centers will even provide patients with headphones to talk and listen. It’s common to let the conversation move past the scan to help you stay calm.
3. Pick some music
If chit-chat doesn’t tamp down your anxiety—or makes it worse—consider asking the tech to play some music you like. Most MRI machines can pipe your favorite tunes into headphones you can wear during the scan. You can even bring your phone, a CD or other digital player in most cases. It’s important to pick something that you find soothing and helps you to relax. Podcasts also work great as distractions.
4. Bring an eye mask
Especially if tight spaces trigger anxiety, try a sleep mask to help you keep the closeness of the machine completely out of sight and, as much as possible, out of mind. As a bonus, you can lie back and relax as if you’re getting a spa treatment. The mask will also help you focus on whatever music you’ve brought as a distraction.
5. Try meditating
Here is a step-by-step guide to a relaxing MRI meditation: With your eyes shut (or sleep mask on), lightly massage your jaw with your fingertips to release tension. Relax your tongue onto the floor of your mouth. Imagine a light that radiates warmth coming into your feet. Picture it making its way up through your body, filtering down through your arms and into your fingers, before traveling into your neck and face, until it spreads its warmth to the top of your head.
We hope these tips will make your next MRI go as smoothly as possible. Book your MRI here.