What behavioral techniques can help manage motion sickness?

If you're bothered by frequent or severe symptoms of motion sickness, a number of psychological and behavioral techniques may help you obtain relief from your symptoms, including:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help alleviate fear and anxiety, two emotions that can lower the threshold for motion sickness. CBT involves gradual exposure to the feared stimulus while practicing new ways of thinking and behaving in response to the trigger.

Progressive muscle relaxation with biofeedback and guided imagery teaches you how to train your muscles to relax while you're exposed to a situation that provokes motion sickness, such as a rotating chair. This technique teaches you to achieve a calm, relaxed state in the face of a situation that triggers your symptoms The results from several studies suggest that these techniques reduce motion sickness.

Diaphragmatic breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that slows the body down and induces a state of calm. Breathing from your diaphragm can help you relax and ease symptoms of motion sickness. To check if you're breathing from your diaphragm, lie on your back with one hand over your heart and the other placed just below your ribcage. Take a deep breath and notice which hand moves. If you're breathing correctly, the hand on your abdomen will move while the one on your chest will not.

Habituation is the process by which -- through repeated exposures -- you become desensitized to an experience that causes you distress. Evidence suggests that some people overcome motion sickness through gradual exposure to situations that trigger their symptoms until they become used to them. Habituation may involve traveling more or participating in other activities that provoke your symptoms, such as tumbling or bouncing on a trampoline.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.