The MRI, or magnetic resonance image, is a common medical test used to check everything from the brain and spinal cord conditions to heart problems and torn ligaments. The test often involves a full-body scan that has the patient lying on a small table that is then inserted into the narrow tunnel of the larger machine. The final position is somewhat akin to being trapped in a tiny tube and can evoke rather unpleasant feelings. From first-timer adolescents in California to those more experienced with the test living, say, in an assisted living community in New Jersey, people preparing for an MRI are subject to anticipating claustrophobia and uneasiness. This alone can induce a great deal of anxiety, and it’s vital to know specific things you can do to calm your nerves.

Listen to music

Is there anything that helps relax your mind or transport your thoughts like a beautiful and relaxing song? MRIs can be noisy affairs with various loud sounds intruding on any thoughts of sleep. Therefore some tunes are in order while the MRI process is underway — and your medical technicians know this, so make sure to ask about musical options: Some will play your personal CDs or your favorite radio station, and even provide MRI-friendly headphones to help distract you from the fact that you can’t move.

In general, music has been found to improve the immune system while reducing stress, as summarized in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Go in prepared to deejay your own experience.

Take a friend

Support from friends and family throughout any unfortunate medical situation is important for a number of reasons. They may act as an advocate, asking questions you are too distracted to remember, or simply act as chauffeur. But even if the circumstances might not be super serious or the appointment might be over relatively quickly, having someone to talk to about your fears and anxiety can help ease your stress, pre-procedure.

As soon as you have an appointment scheduled, make sure a friend or family member is available to accompany you.

Try a sleeping mask

Your MRI might last only 10 minutes, but it might last an hour. While you might be occasionally asked to do things like take a deep breath or make other small body movements, you may also be able to get a little sleep. You can discuss this option with your doctor/technician or a medical assistant over the phone, but either way, why not bring a sleep mask to the appointment?

Aside from blocking the ambient light in the machine that you can’t avoid while closing your eyes, they have been shown to improve sleep in many circumstances.

Communicate with the office assistant and technician

Perhaps most important, asking direct questions about all of the above (procedural as well as medical) and getting your concerns addressed before your appointment — and again before entering the actual MRI machine — will help you feel much more empowered. While you can do internet research, read testimonials, and watch example videos, they are no substitute. Before and during a full body scan MRI
, medical professionals are there to assist you, often ready and willing to keep you informed about all the details related to your particular situation, and, in turn, put you at ease.

Regardless of the reason, you may need an MRI, you don’t want to feel overly anxious about it. If your doctor recommends you have this done, don’t put it off. Schedule your appointment promptly and prepare to relax during this process by being ready beforehand.

Author's Bio: 

Alex is a professional writer and digital marketing expert.