Staying Calm During an MRI

Experiencing anxiety during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure is common. The machines are noisy (because of the banging metal coils, vibrating with rapid pulses of electricity), and claustrophobic for some.

There is nothing to fear, however. MRIs are painless and they are over within minutes. Your UC San Diego Health technician will talk to you before and between sequences, leaving plenty of time for questions. Don’t be shy. We are there to help.

There’s also a call button that you can press at any time to let the technician know if you have an itch, need to be repositioned or just have to get out of the machine right away.

Six Tips for Relaxing 

  1. Have a family member or friend present during the MRI.
  2. Enjoy the warm blankets or cushions we offer. Try putting a pillow under your knees, if possible.
  3. You can use the lavender- and vanilla-scented eye pillows provided to help you relax and remain calm.
  4. Listen to music. The medical staff has the Pandora app available so you can choose your favorite tunes.
  5. Try to control your breathing. If you start feeling stressed, inhale through your nose and exhale slowly out of your mouth, counting to 10 each time.
  6. Go for a little guided mental imagery. Close your eyes and imagine in vivid detail being somewhere else, a white sandy beach or flower-filled alpine meadow, for example.

Health Library

For more information about MRIs, visit our health library: