Relieving Anxiety – During an MRI Scan

Having just got out of my 3rd MRI scan in 5 Months for 3 different conditions I thought I would write a little post on what I found helped keep me calm during the scans.


Before I start I just want to tell you that the first scan was while I was pregnant and was suffering from reflux. Obviously, in an MRI scanner, you are laid flat. Something that I’d not done for months. So I could feel the acid coming up and panicked. I ended up pressing the panic button twice!!

If they take you out of the scanner they have to start again from the beginning so if you can keep calm it is beneficial.

When you are sent for an MRI they will ask you a series of questions keep you safe.

They will include but not limited to:

  • Have you ever had metal in your eye
  • Could you be pregnant
  • Have you had any operations in the past 3 months?
  • Do you have metal pins anywhere in your body?
  • Do you have medicine patches – e.g. stop smoking patch or a pain relief patch.

The scanner works by using magnets which is why there is so much emphasis on the metal in your body.

When you arrive depending on where they need to scan you will be asked to remove your clothes and put on a gown.


Normally if you have no metal on your clothes you may be able to leave them on.

Those that wear a bra I would opt to put on one with no fastenings that way you could leave it on.

Remove all jewellery and hair clips.

If you can, keep your socks on it can be chilly in the scan room.

The scanner is noisy but the operators will give you some ear defenders to put on.

Some of the noises and vibrations can range from

  • When you walk past workers, digging the road with a heavy duty road drill
  • A washing machine on the highest spin.
  • A thump like if you were to slide downstairs on your bottom.
  • Buzzing like a smoke alarm but duller

They will give a squeezy button in case you panic or feel you need to get out.

How to keep calm during the scan

  • Firstly ask what’s going to happen and how long the scanning will take.
  • Ask them to talk you through each step. And countdown each scan. The MRI is usually made up of a series of scans each lasting a few mins each. The first one I had they didn’t talk to me at all which made me panic. On the scans since I’ve asked for them to count down and talk me through each scan.
  • Some mindful breathing is a good way to pass the time and stop you getting into a full-blown panic. There are some great apps out there to practice beforehand. Otherwise just breathing in for a count of 5 hold for 2 out for 6. And repeat. Also, concentrate on the breath. Where you breathe in where the breath goes in the body and then where it leaves the body.
  • Mentally plan, this could be what you’re having for dinner, your next holiday, a shopping list. I find this always passes the time for me.

I took to Facebook to ask other bloggers that had been through an MRI what their top tip would is to calm them down during an MRI.

  • I had one last year. I just took deep breaths and kept thinking every time one scan is done I am closer to it finishing. after about 5 minutes though I was fine and actually nearly fell asleep. Jo – The Knight Tribe
  • I had one just this week. I had brain surgery in August so this was to see if they got it all out (the tumour not the brain????). It was only my 2nd one and I must admit I’m not too bothered about them. But I’m full of a cold and was struggling to stay still so I visualized a luxury beach holiday – I was snorkelling, swimming, eating great food, lying on a giant bed etc. It was quite enjoyable! Told hubby this is the holiday we are having when I get the all clear! Claire – She Eats
  • I’ve had MRI Scans on my Pituitary which was damaged following the birth of my child. Having a MRI can be a little nerve-racking. My advice would be to read up on what to expect. For example, I didn’t know how long my MRI would be or that the machine makes a loud noise and knowing beforehand would have better prepared myself. Angela – The Inspiration Edit 
  • I highly recommend hypnosis. I’ve used it on so many occasions now including scans and it works wonders. There’s some brilliant hypnosis tracks in iTunes you can use to prepare yourself for it. Hollie – Thrifty Mum
  • This sounds weird but I always count the sounds that the MRI makes. Recently I’ve been so relaxed I’ve started to drift off. I have both MRIs where my body is outside and where I’m right in the ‘tunnel’. This has helped both times. Katy – Katy Kicker
  • I’ve had 12 over the last 3 years and spent 1.5 hours in there just last month. I play games while I’m in there, just silly things like I go through the alphabet and think of an animal for each letter, or list as many foods as I can think of starting with the letter S. Anything to focus my mind and pass the time. Laura  – Five Little Doves 
  • When I had mine quite a few years ago now they said I could bring in a CD to listen to… Though they forgot to put the CD on and played Christmas Carols instead, which I hated, but the thought was there! Sophie – Life As Mrs D 
  • I had an MRI this week actually. I closed my eyes, meditated and practised slow breathing during it and found that it kept me very calm and relaxed during the entire thing. Emma – Our Fairytale Adventure

If you suffer from claustrophobia they can give you some sedation to have a scan. Obviously during my first one while pregnant this wouldn’t have been an option, however. This time I was also offered an eye mask to put on. The lady before me said it really helped her. I have always just shut my eyes during it.

I hope this helps if you’re off for an MRI. It can be daunting.

Good luck!

Nina x


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