Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Struggle with Motion Sickness

I don't know if I've said yet, but I'm prone to motion sickness. I have been ever since I was little. I've wanted to make a post about it for quite some time, but more recently I've been able to collect my thoughts in a way that made writing the post easier.

Recently, I went on a weekend road trip with one of my friends (who does not get motion sick) and I assumed that it would be perfectly fine because I would be in the front seat and able to look out the windshield. However, much to my dismay, my friend (who was driving) would ask me to do various tasks that involved turning around, cutting up fruit, making sandwiches and *puking noise* scrolling through the songs on her iPod. Long story short, I was green with anticipation for the end of our trip.

For the journey home at the end of the weekend, I ended up taking 4 Dramamine pills and I slept for several hours.

After this experience, I realized how little people who aren't prone to motion sickness know about it. I've been at the end of several nasty arguments with teachers as well as random others about the extent of my motion sickness and my need to leave the room, close my eyes, or open a window. Now, I know for a fact that I'm not an expert on the subject, but I do know some of the things that cause motion sickness, and some tricks on how to help manage it.

For me personally, there are a lot of things that cause me to get motion sick. Subtitles, ceiling fans, swivel fans, roller-coasters, car rides, things moving in the corner of my eye, flashing lights, reading while in a car, watching videos or movies that have a shaky camera, etc. (The things that cause motion sickness can vary depending on the person.) To the extent of my knowledge, things like that cause motion sickness because they confuse your mind/body. What your brain says you're doing movement wise, and what your eyes says your doing movement wise conflict with each other, resulting in vomit and other uncomfortable upsets.

The best way to prevent and to relieve motion sickness is to sleep. Now, I know that this isn't a very good way to handle it in some cases, because you can't sleep during a class or when you're supposed to be working, but it's something that I think is extremely important to know. I've gotten home and taken a short nap in order to stop my motion sickness so that I'd be able to do homework, or read in my room, or function at all for the rest of the day. But, if you're on a bus or going on a road trip, sleeping in the vehicle is the best way to avoid getting sick. Also, if you haven't gotten a full night's rest, you're going to be more likely to get motion sick. A fatigued body isn't going to fight off sickness as well as a rested body.

I've found that, when I'm thinking about motion sickness and what's happening in the moment that leads to motion sickness, I get sicker and am most definitely going to throw up. So, if possible, try not to think about it (Which is easier said than done). When I think about it, I make the effects more prominent, and a few times I've caused myself to gain some of the upsets just by deciding that something I was experiencing would cause them.

When in a car, try to sit shotgun or drive (the driver is the least likely to get motion sick). Look out the window in front of you and focus on one thing directly in front of you. When you get close to or pass the "one thing", pick another one. If you're doing that and you begin to feel the pangs of sickness, roll down your window and kind of lean into the wind. (This is especially effective if the air is a little bit chilly because it's more refreshing and calming.)

If you're watching a movie, or if there are fans, or something moving in the corner of your eye, closing your eyes helps the most. It gives the opportunity to concentrate on your breathing, and allows your body to relax and stop reacting to the conflict. In cases like this, fresh air can also be a good option if having your eyes closed isn't helping enough to prevent puking.

In my own experience, I've found that counting or singing a song in my head that has a consistent beat helps to take my mind off of the events at hand, and allows me to focus on something positive. While breathing deeply and singing in my head, I've prevented vomit several times.

The last thing I want to explain is the importance of eating good things. If you know you're going to be in the car a long time or doing some other activity that would cause you to get motion sick, don't eat a bunch of greasy foods that will upset your stomach sooner.

There have been times on bus rides and during videos in a class when I've explained that I'm motion sick and had people get angry with me anyway for not looking at them, looking out a window, having my eyes closed, or asking to leave the room or have a bit of time outside of the vehicle.

What are things that make you motion sick? How do you handle it? I'd love to know!

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