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10 Ways to Stay Calm During Your MRI


Keeping Your Calm Starts Before the Actual MRI

For people who dislike or fear small places a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test can be terrifying. The very site of the MRI room can trigger panic attacks in some people. They dread even getting on the table and feel the irrational urge to bolt from the testing site. MRI technicians are left frustrated and anxious about how to help the person.

If you are undergoing an MRI, have undergone, or know someone who will be then now is the time to start learning ways to calmly get through your procedures before frazzling your technicians. Staying calm starts early so here are ten ways to keep your calm and end up leaving everyone with a great memory of your procedure.


#1 Do Your Really Know What an MRI is?

Movie MRIs don't count!

Seeing an MRI on television or hearing vaguely from the doctor about it is not the same as KNOWING what one is. Actually, having only a slight notion on the procedure often makes the experience worse. People usually share the negative which grows in our mind and grows until we are downright afraid. We have fallen into the trap of letting our imagination win over our common sense.

To make it easy I can sum up the Magnetic Resonance Imaging in a simple sentence or two. MRIs use very powerful magnets and radio waves to create dozens or even hundreds of 'slices' (single MRI pictures). There is absolutely no radiation involved (like in x-rays) and no side effects have been reported from it's radio and magnetic waves. The MRI gives doctors a better look at the area then a simple x-ray or even some CAT scans.

The MRI itself is a very large machine which has a space where the table you rest upon slides in. My technicians (who were both very experienced) had NEVER heard of anyone getting stuck inside the machine. Trust me, the table slides in and out quite easily and if you want out, you simply press the little remote they give you and you are out in a few moments.

I should also tell you the machine makes some funny noises and can be quite loud. You get some stylish earplugs for noise protection and usually the technicians put up little barrier type pillows to keep you comfortably in place. If you are having trouble with the ear plugs then simply ask. I could not get mine to stay in so they each pressed on one within each ear. Weird experience but completely worked.


My MRI Experiences

Always a Good Time

This work was inspired after recently getting a second brain MRI. To avoid having an accident like my first MRI the nurses held me up after it and we talked while my blood started going the proper places. They kept saying how I did an amazing job and was the perfect MRI patient. I was downright floored and asked why. Their answers made me realize an MRI is so much more than a simple test for some patients, it's a downright ordeal.

Their insight and answers about what to do led me to examine what makes me such a 'fearless' MRI patient. From what I have learned I will do my best to help you make the best possible decisions on how to keep calm during your upcoming MRI. Who knows? You may realize it's nowhere near as bad as you expected!


#2 Arrive in Comfort & Ready


Nothing makes me more stressed then arriving some place without being completely ready. I hate rushing and thinking 'did I forget something' or 'I seriously think I forgot something!!' Ensure you do not arrive rushed with half your stuff with you. Get ready the night before and make sure to try to get a good night's sleep. Poor sleep can play a major role in the way you handle a situation.

Since you are rested and ready it's time to consider arriving in comfort. If you are feeling nervous then take a close friend or family member with you. Someone who you can express your feelings to and take comfort in their reassurances. Sometimes just knowing you have someone you care for waiting at the end of your MRI can make a big difference.

I also suggest arriving in comfort. No, not in your pajamas or sweatpants (unless you want to) but do try to come in clothes which give you a sense of feeling good. When I feel like I look good then it makes facing a particularly painful test a little easier. After all, if you can manage to look good while your body feels terrible then you can definitely survive your test.

Just remember to not go overboard on the clothing or jewelry. You will have to take off your top (and bra if you wear one) and articles which are metal or contain metal. I told myself to wear leggings so I could avoid the insanely large hospital pants then completely forgot and wore skinny jeans. Most importantly I did remember to take out all my jewelry. Having a belly button piercing means I must make sure to take it out before my MRI to avoid a possibly nasty magnet moment.

Chinese Stress Relief Health Balls - A Unique Way to Fight Stress at Home

Keep stress away with a lovely pair of Chinese health balls. With a variety of styles and colors you are sure to find just the right one for every room in your home.

Anti-Stress & Relaxable Balls - With Tangle Relax Therapy too

I am a person who always needs something in their hands. Sometimes this is a really difficult task as my hands can shake so hard it makes holding anything quite a feat. If you are also someone who needs an object in their hands for relaxation then consider an anti-stress ball. Their small size makes them easy to carry and use while waiting for the technician to call you in for your MRI.

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#3 Be Completely Honest With Yourself

Honesty is truly the MRI policy

If you are not comfortable, worried, or downright terrified about the whole experience then be honest. No one is going to laugh at you for sharing your fear. You definitely are not the first to feel this way and for sure you will not be the last. So be completely honest with how you feel. Saying you are not scared but secretly feeling a rising panic will get you nowhere. Instead admit your feelings and even share them with someone you feel close to.

When I get nervous about a medical test which I know will be very painful I acknowledge my feelings. I even go so far as to talk about them with my boyfriend who I know will be supportive. What I do not do is share my fears with someone who I know will say 'it could be worse' (yes, i have a family member who ALWAYS does this). In times of fear or worry I just want someone to quietly hold my hand or tell me things will be fine not give me a lecture on what I already know. So bring someone who will be completely supportive in the way you need or if you bring someone like 'that' family member calmly ask them for a relaxing silence or a simple hug, no words needed.


#4 Get to Know Your Technician

In a brief conversation way

Getting a medical test done is a lot less stressful when you have spoken with or gotten to have a short conversation with the technician. They are looking out for you and going to do their best to help you relax and calmly make it through your MRI test. Even just seeing a person's face can be helpful as it makes them much more approachable as someone to help then just a nameless hospital worker.

I speak with my technicians and nurses before and after the procedure. For me it is always interesting to hear about their experiences and it really helps to hear a calm voice during a particularly painful test. So calm yourself by knowing you are not alone and there are people willing to help at a moment's notice. You do not have to put on a facade of bravery. If you need to push your panic button to exit the MRI for a moment or two then feel free to do it.

Books on Learning to Communicate With Anyone - Communication is a skill worth learning

I come from a family which loves to talk and according to said family have an astonishing gift for being able to speak to anyone pretty much about anything. For me it is easy but many people I have spoken to find it incredibly hard. As they say, practice makes perfect and I have had an incredible amount of practice. For those who have not, take the the first step towards conversation by learning about it through books like these and then put your knowledge into practice. By just having a simple conversation with your technicians you may find yourself feeling a little more at ease knowing these are real people who really want to help you.


#5 Schedule the Best Day Time For You

When do you feel at your best?

I have to schedule my test around other people's schedules (as my health problems make it dangerous for me to drive) but if they are free then I choose the best time for me. I am definitely a night person or (if I've had a good night's sleep) then a very early person. Late morning and early afternoons often are times when I schedule appointments which do not require thinking, meaning medical tests For the latest MRI I had options available in the evening, early afternoon or late afternoon. I chose 2:45 as I could get in a nap before or doze a bit in the MRI machine and it would not interfere with the vague times where I am actually hungry in the evenings.

What part of the day do you feel the best? If it is the morning then try to go with a morning time. If you feel best in the evening then see if you can take an appointment then. Try to avoid going during times of the day where you know stress abounds. Stress affects your body's balance (e.g. raises Cortisol levels) and can raise the likelihood of your calm MRI turning into a panic scene.

Choosing the perfect time of the day for you may not be possible with your busy lifestyle. When I was healthy I would have been lucky to even have time for an MRI. All I am saying is if you are open for various times then choose the best time of day for you. A bit of inconvenience is worth avoiding a panicky MRI.

Night Owl? Morning Sunshine? Afternoon Alive? - I'm a Night Owl Completely (you can tell by my smile in the picture!)


I only feel truly awake after the sun has set and most people start getting tired. As you can tell by my smile in the photograph, I am definitely at my happiest when not in sleepy day time mode.


#6 Breath In. Breath Out. Be Calm

Keep your body in balance

From speaking with my technicians I discovered people can have panic attacks simply by entering the MRI room. As someone who has experienced panic attacks I know how frightening they can be. I also know just how important it is to relax my breathing and stop hyperventilating. You see when you hyperventilate what happens is you throw off your carbon dioxide-oxygen balance. Carbon dioxide is leaving the body faster than oxygen and the decreased levels are causing your blood vessels to tighten up. Constricting blood vessels in the brain lead to nasty symptoms like feeling lightheaded.

If nerve-wracking situations trigger panic attacks or you start feeling your breathing begin to speed up then mention it immediately. Just breathing into a simple brown paper bag helps restore your CO2-oxygen balance and stops your hyperventilation. Do not let yourself get to the point where a full-blown panic attack sets in. Cut off the problem when it starts so you can enter the MRI calmly.

Keep up calmly breathing throughout the whole procedure and afterwards. If you are not sure what I mean then look at the books below. They explain how your breathing techniques are capable of keeping you calm, stopping stress, and surviving everything with a steady voice and a smile.

Books on Creating Calm Through Breathing Techniques - Just Breathing Can Keep You Calm

You may be saying 'look, I KNOW how to breathe. I do it everyday...I'm doing it right now. So why should I buy a book on a natural action?' Breathing to sustain life and breathing to better your life are two very different actions. If you do not know what I mean then take a look into these books. Their whole focus is on using just your breathing to completely change how you face difficult situations.


#7 Be Logical

If you can use logic..then you can do this

Most of us are very logical people. We use logical thinking daily and it comes naturally to most of us. For example, if a man is late to work every day, lazy, and misses four days out of a five day work week then it is logical to assume he will be getting fired very soon. If you understand the logical in the example then you can easily use the same principle for staying calm during your MRI.

If you are claustrophobic then you may be racing through panicky ideas of what could happen inside the MRI. Well, what could happen? Let's be logical. You may say: well...what if I get stuck inside?' In my multiple MRIs and other tests I have yet to hear of a single person getting stuck in an MRI machine. I looked it up as well, asked multiple health care professionals, and still have yet to find a case. You are realistically more likely to get struck by lightning while winning the lottery then get stuck inside an MRI machine.