Ah, the holidays! While this time of year brings tidings of joy, it can also create a lot of stress. Shopping in busy stores, spending extra time in the kitchen, running endless errands, and attending numerous social events, if we don’t pay attention to our body’s needs, we can quickly become overstimulated.
Living with a vestibular disorder this time of year can be overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. By being more conscious about how you spend your holidays, you can manage dizziness symptoms and fully enjoy your friends and family this holiday season.
Here are our tips for managing your symptoms to have a successful holiday season.
CONTINUE YOUR EXERCISES
It’s easy to overbook ourselves during the holidays. However, when we are feeling overwhelmed, the first thing many of us drop from the to-do list is exercise because frankly, it isn’t fun. However, for anyone with vestibular issues, it is very important to continue your daily exercises to keep your inner ear stimulated and avoid regressing.
Daily repetition is THE key to seeing improvements in your dizziness. Taking a break from your vestibular exercises, even for a short period of time, can lead to a set-back in your recovery. Don’t make this frustrating mistake.
TIP 1: Maintain your normal exercise routine throughout the holidays. If you miss a set, don’t worry, just get back on track the next day.
TIP 2: Find ways to be active when socializing with family and friends. Start a new tradition and take a walk before or after dinner. This is a great time to catch up, see the neighborhood decorations, and keep your vestibular system happy.
MAINTAIN A NORMAL SLEEP ROUTINE
It is easy to stay up late when you’re spending time with friends and family. However, you will feel much better if you stick to your usual sleep routine. Research shows having a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each day, helps to maintain our brains homeostasis. Changes to the sleep routine can increase symptoms of dizziness and can also trigger migraines.
TIP 3: Enlist the help of your family. Let them know you are going to focus on your health and will be going to bed on time. Then, simply excuse yourself at your normal bedtime so you can be refreshed and ready to go the next day.
TAKE TIME TO RELAX AND PRACTICE SELF-CARE
While family time is a hallmark of most holiday traditions, many people find too much interaction to be overstimulating. If you feel yourself reaching your threshold, take a self-imposed timeout. By taking a few minutes at a time to decompress throughout the day, you will be able to manage your symptoms and avoid increasing dizziness. No one will notice your brief departure and by keeping your symptoms stable you will be able to enjoy the interactions and be more engaged.
TIP 4: Take a 5 minute break by yourself. Use the time to do some deep breathing, grounding, go through your vestibular home exercises, or listen to a short-guided imagery video on your mobile phone.
BE MINDFUL OF FOOD TRIGGERS
The holidays are all about special foods we look forward to having once a year. Be aware of what you are eating and drinking throughout the holidays. If you are sensitive to specific foods or have dietary migraine triggers, limit your consumption. Be purposeful about what you are putting on your plate rather than mindlessly snacking. Monitor your sodium and caffeine intake to keep the fluid balance of the inner ear stable. While these trigger foods taste good in the moment, the following days and weeks with increased dizziness symptoms will likely make you reconsider if it was worth it.
TIP 5: Plan ahead to avoid food triggers. For large gatherings, bring a dish you know is safe for you to eat. If you’re out and are tempted by that eggnog latte or holiday special, allow yourself one for the season and relish it as a treat.
AVOID EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
The holiday season is filled with delicious excesses, including alcohol. However, when you have vestibular issues, you don’t need any assistance feeling dizzy or off-balance. Avoid alcohol, which directly affects the inner ear system, disrupting the fluid balance and causing increased dizziness symptoms. If that isn’t enough, research has shown 60% of falls are alcohol related.
TIP 6: When attending a gathering, bring your own non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy. You can also drink water out of a wine glass and add a sprig of mint or some cranberries to look festive and feel good.
It is entirely possible to manage your vestibular symptoms and enjoy the holidays. All it takes is a little preparation, thoughtfulness, and self-care.