If you are claustrophobic and anxious about your upcoming MRI, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to stay relaxed. However, you may be reluctant to use sedating medications, especially if you have to drive after the test. If so, use one or both of the following tips to keep your stress and anxiety levels down.
Perform Deep Breathing Exercises
Before your test, practice deep breathing exercises to help you stay focused and to calm your mind. One method you can use involves inhaling for a set count, such as five, then exhaling for an extended count, such as eight. As you inhale, see the breaths filling your tense muscles with relaxing energy. As you exhale, pretend all of the tension and anxiety is leaving your body.
During your MRI, you can use your breathing exercise in two ways. First, you can start out by using the therapeutic breaths, and continue to do so during the entire test. Second, you can use the technique whenever you feel yourself start to tense up or panic.
Visualize Yourself Someplace Else
Another way to keep your mind calm and body relaxed is to visualize yourself elsewhere. Before you start, perform several sets of breathing exercises as described above to begin the relaxation process.
Then, imagine you are someplace you find particularly relaxing. For example, if you are fond of the ocean, imagine you are laying on a lounge chair under an umbrella, instead of on the MRI table. To fully enhance the visualization experience, try to engage your senses. Pretend you can smell the salty air, and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and the sand beneath your feet.
Although an MRI machine can be noisy, you can incorporate the sounds into your visualization. When the machine starts to whine or roar, imagine the waves are crashing against the beach. When you hear clicking sounds, imagine those are the sounds of sea gulls nearby. If you hear loud bangs or pings coming from the machine, you can also incorporate those into your fantasy by pretending a gazebo is being built nearby for an upcoming beach party.
The above tips can help you get through your next MRI with a minimum of discomfort. However, if you still have concerns, you may want to ask your doctor about ordering an open MRI, or ask the technician performing your MRI for additional advice on how to keep calm. Contact a clinic like Hudson Valley Imaging for more information.