Feeling dizzy or imbalance in the grocery store is one the most common complaints we hear from people with vestibular disorders.
We have three systems that help us maintain our balance:
👂 Vestibular system
🦶 Proprioception (sensory)
When we have a vestibular disorder, our vestibular system isn't as reliable as it used to be, so the other two systems ramp up to help compensate.
For some people, the proprioception system is used more, but for most people, we rely heavily on our vision system 👀
This works great when our visual world is still and calm, but when we enter certain environments that are visually busy, like a grocery store, our overly used visual system gets overwhelmed and suddenly we feel dizzy again 🥴
The same thing can happen when we view moving objects, such as being in traffic or scrolling on our phones.
Push a Grocery Cart
Wear a backpack with a little bit of weight in it
Use Axial Compression - if you don't know what this is, check out this blog post!
All of these techniques increase our proprioception (sensory or touch) input. This in turn helps to balance out your other two systems (vestibular and vestibular). This teaches our brain to focus more on our proprioception system so that it learns to use this in equal amounts as out vision. When we do this, we become less reliant on vision to keep us balanced, and slowly we will notice the grocery store becomes less and less problematic.
The best way to apply these techniques is with Graded Exposure. This is a fancy term for exposing yourself to a stimulating environments in small amounts and slowly building up. For the grocery store, this may mean you go more often for smaller amounts of time
This means going more often for smaller amounts of time. By doing this, you are exposing yourself to a tricky environment but in small doses that only make you a little bit dizzy. Slowly, you should notice that the shorter visits don't trigger your symptoms as much, and when that happens you can begin to stay in the store a little bit longer.
It takes time and patient's but slowly you can build up your tolerance for the grocery store and hopefully you will be able to do all your shopping for the week in one visit!