‘Why am I feeling dizzy during quarantine?’ This is a question I have encountered a couple times during this COVID-19 lockdown and feel it deserves some attention and explanation. It is no joke that that our world has been rocked over the last several months and life as we knew it has taken on many unexpected changes. During this time, a number of people have been experiencing flare-ups of old (and some new) symptoms, including sensations of dizziness and feeling off balance. These sensations may occur unexpectedly, make you feel out of sorts with yourself, and add additional anxiety to an already stressful time. So, let’s explore what can trigger feelings of dizziness and what you can do about it.
Pulling the Trigger on Dizziness
1. Stress- This may be the number one trigger for symptomatic flare-ups, especially for symptoms such as dizziness and light headedness. The stress response activates a hormonal cascade that puts the body in a fight-or-flight state. For short durations, this can be adaptive; however, when prolonged this can start to negatively impact your health.
a. QUICK TIP: Having a stress management strategy is in important first step in making your body more resilient to an ever-changing environment. This may look different for everyone, but may include things like daily movement/exercise, getting outdoors, reading a book, listening to or playing music, mediation and breathwork, and talking to a friend.
2. Sleep- Changes in sleep routines can leave us feeling groggy and fatigued throughout the day. When this persists, it can start to negatively affect our body’s ability to handle stress and for some people, may trigger symptoms such as migraines and migraine associated vertigo and dizziness.
a. QUICK TIP: Create a sleep routine and follow it! Reduce screen exposure before bedtime, create a dark, cool environment for you to sleep in, and try to get up at the same time every day.
3. Fuel- Experiencing the quarantine munchies? With a lot of people out of their usual daily routine, you may find yourself snacking more throughout the day and turning to foods you typically wouldn’t consume on a regular basis. This can cause fluctuations in blood sugar and hydration levels. Rapid changes in blood sugar or dehydration can trigger sensations of light headedness and dizziness.
a. QUICK TIP: Try to eat the colours of the rainbow (and I’m not talking about Skittles here) every day. Including a good variety of colourful vegetables and fruits and going for these foods before reaching for the sweets will not only add body boosting vitamins and minerals to your diet, but may even help to reduce cravings for treats. In addition, drink water regularly throughout the day to stay hydrated.
4. Posture- Several people have undergone the shift from working in an office with proper
ergonomics to working at home from their kitchen table. This transition can create a lot of
postural strain and fatigue, resulting in increased neck and shoulder stiffness, changes in range of motion, and increased frequency of headaches and cervicogenic dizziness (ie,
dizziness coming from the neck).
a. QUICK TIP: When working on a computer you ideally want the screen to be at eye level; however, if you are working on a laptop this can be challenging. For laptop users, tilt your screen back so that you can comfortable look down using only your eyes instead of your head and neck. Make sure everything you need is within arm’s distance so that you do not need to constantly be reaching for items. Finally, take regular breaks to move and stretch ad couple minutes per hour to avoid prolonged postural strain.
Identifying your triggers and having some tools to tackle them with is the first step. However, sometimes this can be easier said than done or things may be more complicated than first thought. Working with a professional who understands underlying causes of dizziness can help you get to the root of what you are experiencing faster so that you can start feeling like yourself again.
Dr. Speranza is an upper cervical Chiropractor in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She follows the protocols of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) to help people experiencing problems with postural related dizziness regain balance, return to doing the activities that they love, and ultimately take back control of their health.