Motion Sickness: 3 Ways to Survive Change (without losing your head)

All of us have experienced it. The dizziness and disorientation that comes from motion sickness. Either in the backseat of a station wagon, on a boat, or spinning around the yard, there is that familiar and strange sensation of your brain swirling around in your head. Something similar happens in times of change in our professional lives as well. Whether navigating new waters, riding along on a bumpy road, or having circumstances change suddenly, some motion sickness can be hard to avoid.

So, how do you survive change, avoid light-headedness, and emerge on the other side stronger, wiser, and more capable than you began? Here are three principles to apply.

1.     Find your Focus

When I would go out boating as a kid with family friends and started to feel a little wheezy, they would encourage me to set my eyes on a fixed point like the horizon or the nearby shoreline. It helped provide perspective and settle my stomach. The same is true in our work life. In times when the business results or changing processes are like choppy seas, it is good to fix your eyes on the constants of your business: your commitment to customers, your loyalty to the mission, or your cool products. Not everything in the environment is changing and some of what is steady is extremely positive and can keep you grounded even if things are changing.

2.     Hydrate Your Interests

One of the common causes of dizziness is dehydration. To avoid dizziness, they recommend drinking enough water, eating regularly and sleeping soundly. In other words, you can’t neglect your health and expect your body to perform at its peak. Most of us have multiple interests in and beyond work. In times of change it is important to nourish your curiosities. At work, look for ways to learn new skills or expand your contributions. And in your personal life, don’t neglect the things that feed you like hobbies, time with friends, family, or time in reflection or in nature.

3.     Practice Your Flexibility

Have you ever wondered how ice skaters can perform those tight and fast spins on the ice without getting dizzy? Unlike dancers, who can fix their eyes on a single location trick their brain into thinking it is still even though their bodies are moving, ice skaters are moving too fast for that. When the spin stops, why don’t they feel overwhelmingly dizzy and fall to the ground? The answer is a little anti-climactic: they get used to it. Starting small and slow, they build their tolerance. They might still get dizzy, but not enough that the audience would know. You, too, can practice your flexibility and open-mindedness and train yourself not to get disoriented in times of change. It requires some self-awareness, perhaps some self-reflection and opportunities to practice. So, if you find yourself facing change after change, be thankful that you are getting the opportunity to practice.

The most common cause of dizziness is unintended motion. It’s something out of your control and causes your body to move when you haven’t moved it. In times of change, the first thing to go is our own sense of control and that can be disconcerting. But it need not be debilitating. Like the effects of vertigo, most times they are harmless and temporary. We just need to find our feet and proceed forward and the dizziness will pass.