Posted by: seattledizzygroup | August 31, 2018

How to Respond to Comments about Chronic Illness


Ways to Handle Remarks about Being Chronically Ill

It can be challenging to know how to deal with comments about chronic illness.  Likewise, it can be difficult for friends and family to know what to say and what not to say to a loved one who is chronically ill.

These articles offer suggestions for those living with chronic illness as well as helpful tips for friends and family:

How to Respond to Unkind Remarks When You’re Chronically Ill

4 Tips for Dealing with Unsolicited Health Advice

When Your Friend is Ill The Right Words are a Blessing

12 Comments that Would be Welcomed by the Chronically Ill

What Those with Chronic Illness DO Want to Hear

  10 Things You Should Say to Someone with a Chronic Illness

15 Things Not to Say to Someone with a Chronic Illness

What Those with Chronic Illness DON’T Want to Hear

What the Chronically Ill DON’T Want to Hear (Part 2)


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Post updated September 2018.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | July 31, 2018

Strategies to Combat Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness Road

Ways to Prevent & Treat Motion Sickness

Traveling can be a fun adventure, but may unfortunately bring on motion sickness—especially for those living with a chronic vestibular disorder.

Motion sickness occurs when the body systems that make up the vestibular (balance) system, the inner ear, eyes and receptors located throughout the body that can sense movement (proprioception), lose sync with one another. This “sensory mismatch” is often caused by riding in a car, boat, airplane, or riding a novelty ride at the carnival. It can however be caused during any other activity that involves motion.

Dizziness is the main symptom associated with motion sickness and may be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms including  nausea, vomiting, fatigue, cold sweats, headache, etc.

A sensory mismatch also occurs in certain inner ear disorders, producing the same symptoms. For example, in Meniere’s Disease, fluid pressure in the inner ear can give a false cue to the brain that the body (or the room) is spinning, but vision and the pressure on the feet indicate otherwise. The resulting nausea is similar to being sea-sick.  In Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), abnormal particles in a semicircular canal cause currents when the head is tilted, creating a false cue of spinning.  This can result in a loss of balance because of disorientation, and nausea because of the sensory mismatch.

(Sensory Mismatch information from vestibular expert Dr. John Epley’s

Luckily, motion sickness from travel adventures is usually temporary.  However, in rare cases motion sickness may persist long after travels.  Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (MdDs) or Disembark­ment Sickness is a rare neurological disorder (also considered a balance disorder though not resulting from an inner ear disorder) that most often develops following an ocean cruise but may occur after any type of travel or even spontaneously.  The characteristic symptom of MdDs is a persistent sensation of motion (such as rocking, swaying, bobbing, etc.).  MdDs is a life-altering condition which may be quite disabling and may persist for years.

(MdDs information from

Helpful Articles:

Dizziness & Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments (Vision Therapy)

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Motion Sickness

Why You Get Car Sick: Your Brain Thinks It’s Being Poisoned

How to Prevent Motion Sickness + Natural Treatments

Preventing and Treating Motion Sickness

10 Tips to Prevent Motion Sickness

10 Ways to Combat Motion Sickness (from a Life-Long Sufferer)

Natural Remedies for Motion Sickness

Vertigo, Dizziness, Disequilibrium: Battling Chronic Nausea

Mal de Débarquement Syndrome

Summer Survival Strategies

Traveling with Dizziness (Adventures in “Dizzyland”)


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


Posted by: seattledizzygroup | June 30, 2018

Soak Up the Sun for Vitamin D

soak up sun 4

Enjoy the Summer Sunshine for Better Health

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which we get from food as well as from sun exposure (which is why it is often called the “sunshine vitamin”).

There are many health benefits of Vitamin D and it plays an important role in vestibular disorders and other chronic illnesses.  For example, recent studies have suggested higher Vitamin D levels may decrease the frequency and severity of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo and migraines.  Vitamin D may also help with reducing chronic fatigue and inflammation as well as managing autoimmune disease.

Just 15 minutes of noontime summer sun exposure on the hands, arms, and face will provide a person the equivalent of 1,000 IU of Vitamin D.  (Skin should turn the lightest shade of pink, but be careful not to get sunburned).  If we soak up enough sunshine in the summertime, the excess Vitamin D is stored and can be used during the gray winter months.  So, get outside and enjoy sunny summer days for better health all year!

Most people have low or less than optimal Vitamin D levels.  Those who are at higher risk of deficiency or insufficiency, including the elderly and those with chronic illness, should have their Vitamin D levels routinely checked and supplement if necessary.

More Information About Vitamin D:

Let There Be Light: The Importance of Sunshine

7 Signs You May Have a Vitamin D Deficiency

How Much Vitamin D  to Take for Optimal Health?

The Relationship Between Vitamin D and Vertigo

Decreased Serum Vitamin D in Idiopathic Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

New Study Finds Low Vitamin D Levels May Be Related To Migraines

Vitamin D and Autoimmune Disease

See Also:

Summer Survival Strategies


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | May 31, 2018

Gentle Yoga for Improving Balance


Gentle Yoga

Easy Modified Yoga for Those with Chronic Dizziness & Imbalance

by Bev Holstun

Yoga Instructor

 (Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 5/12/18)

This presentation discusses how practicing yoga and deep breathing meditation can help increase mindfulness, relieve stress and anxiety, and improve balance and well-being.  Many Gentle Yoga stretches and Restorative Yoga poses are appropriate for those with chronic dizziness and imbalance.  (Try easy, modified exercises which can be done from a seated or supported position to accommodate postural limitations and restricted head movement).


Yoga is a 5,000-year old scientific technique for spiritual development. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union”, thus its goal is the unification of body, mind, and spirit. Because the science of yoga is so old, it has developed many paths toward obtaining the goal of union. This state of union is called samadhi or enlightenment, where we experience the unity of not just our mind-body-spirit, but experience the whole universe as one interconnected whole.

Yoga is not a religion, but a scientific methodology of the experience and integration of the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is a toolbox for spiritual, mental, and physical health and well-being.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga (ha=”sun” tha=”moon”) attains this union though a balanced practice of Astanga, the eight limbs of yoga:

(1) Yama – restraints or ethical practices: Ahimsa (nonharming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (nonstealing), bramacharya (abstaining from sensual indulgence), and aparigraha (nonpossessiveness)

(2) Niyama – observances:  Saucha (purity), santosa (contentment), tapas (discipline), svadhyaya (self-study), and isvara pranidhana (surrender to God)

(3) Asana – the physical postures/exercises

(4) Pranayama – breath awareness and control

(5) Pratyahara – inner focus

(6) Dharana – concentration

(7) Dhyana – meditation

(8) Samadhi – absorption

The integration of these practices helps one to develop self-awareness.

Asana is the foundation for this practice and is often practiced alone as a method of holistic exercise, stress reduction, and/or healing.

Yoga Asanas

Asanas are the yoga postures, the physical poses held in Hatha yoga.  Each asana should be steady and comfortable, firm and engaged yet relaxed. There are thousands of yoga asanas that have been developed over the centuries.


Pranayama are breathing exercises developed by the ancient yogis for purification. Prana translates into “life force energy” and Yama translates into “control or mastery of”. Thus, Pranyama is used to control, cultivate, and modify the Prana in the body. Prana is taken in through the air we breathe, and since the Pranayama exercises increase the amount of air we take in, we increase the intake of Prana.

For most Pranayama, the breath is slow and steady, breathed in and out of the nose and down into the belly. Always sit with a straight spine and a relaxed body. While you are practicing Pranayama, let go of any thoughts by focusing on the breathing involved with the Pranayama.

Deep breathing practice:  Gradually lengthen your exhale breath 1-3 beats longer than your inhale breath to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and promote greater relaxation.

Benefits of Hatha Yoga

Relaxation: yoga exercises: gentle stretching, breathing, meditation and guided relaxation calms the nervous system, emotions and releases body tension.

Concentration: focus, attention and concentration are promoted by a yoga practice of mindful movement and body awareness. The practice of balancing postures especially builds concentration.

Toning: holding yoga postures creates isometric exercise, which tones every part of the body, including the internal organs.

Healing: yoga exercises the glands, organs and endocrine system; massaging toning and increasing circulation to stimulate, heal, and eliminate toxins from the body.

Flexibility: yoga postures gently stretch the muscles in the body, increasing the flexibility and lengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Nourishing: slow gentle movements with deep breathing energize the body rather than tire it. This, combined with relaxation and yoga’s healing benefits, allows daily renewal and nourishment of the body-mind-spirit.


The sound Om was discovered by the ancient yogis to be the vibrational sound of the universe. By chanting this sound, you can connect with this vibration and hence feel connected to the oneness of the universe.


Namaste is a Sanskrit word that does not have an English equivalent. So we usually translate it something like this: “I honor/acknowledge the divine/spirit/light/god within you”. I like to use the words of Thich Nhat Hanh “I bow to you, a Buddha to be”. Like yoga, it’s more about the feeling of the word rather than the mental “meaning”.

Guidelines for Yoga

  • If possible, don’t eat for at least 2 hours before coming to class.  Practicing on an empty stomach will increase your flexibility, concentration, and strength.
  • Always do yoga barefoot. Your feet will stick better to the mat if your socks and shoes are off.
  • Always seek out a position that feels good!  If you feel awkward in a pose of if you feel pain, you are probably forcing the pose.  While doing yoga stretches, seek out gentle releases.  When you are in a pose that requires strength and stamina, pace yourself by paying attention to your breath.  When the breath shortens or must be taken through the mouth, you need to rest.
  • Remember that your lungs are like muscles: they need to be stretched gradually.  If the breath work makes you dizzy or hurts your chest, return to normal breathing.
  • The flexibility of the muscles and the energy level of our bodies change daily.  Never approach a pose without first checking in to how your body is feeling at that particular point in time.
  • You should always stay away from any sharp physical pain.  Work close to your limit (your edge) without going past it.  Create an awareness and understanding of it, but don’t plow into it.
  • Always feel free to come out of a pose before the rest of the class.  Your body is the first voice you should listen to.  The teacher is the second voice you should listen to.  Try not to listen to your ego at all.
  • Yoga is designed to open up the body so that it stands tall, feels positive, and thinks clearly.  Sometimes negative emotions or discomfort will come up during a practice, needing to be cleared before openings can occur.  Treat yourself kindly.  Work close to, but not in pain.  Work slowly and seek out what feels good.  Clearing out old patterns can work wonders for your body and your life if you work gently.
  • Breathe through the nose.  You will benefit from filtered air and a calmer nervous system by doing so.
  • Always drink lots of water after you practice yoga. You will move your body in ways that it is not used to moving, so you may be sore the next day. A warm bath before bed may also help any soreness.

Gentle Yoga

Gentle Yoga uses easy modified yoga stretches/poses practiced while focusing on breath which helps increase mindfulness, relieve stress and anxiety, and improve balance and well-being.

Yoga neck stretch

Gentle Yoga Exercises to Try:

Belly Breathing and lengthen exhale.  (In yoga we move with the breath).

Circle wrists, circle ankles

Shoulder Rolls

Arms overhead (out to side and up)

Circle arms slowly one at a time, both directions, from shoulder (forward, up, back, down 6X, reverse)

Lift and lower elbows with fingers on shoulders.  Then circle elbows. 

Gentle Eagle arms

Gentle Tricep stretch

With shoes and socks off, lift heal of foot to stretch toes and sole of foot (hold 5 – 10 seconds each side)

With shoes and socks off, turn foot over and stretch top of foot (hold 5 – 10 seconds each side)

Balance poses at the wall with one hand on wall or chair

Figure four stretch in chair

Lift and lower legs from the knees, one leg at a time or both at the same time

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is a conscious relaxation practice where participants lie over blankets and bolsters on the floor in passive, but comfortable yoga poses and focus on breathing for up to 10-20 minutes in each pose.

Yoga restorative pose


Meditation is a focusing of the mind on a single object, creating the cessation of all thought. As thoughts dissipate, the mind becomes quiet, and we are able to be fully in the present moment. The techniques of meditation are simple and easy to learn, but the ability to keep the mind focused takes time, patience and practice. The benefits of a regular meditation practice include reducing stress, tension, anxiety and frustration as well as improving memory, concentration, inner peace and whole body well-being.

Yoga Meditation Pose

Simple Yogic Meditation

Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair. Sit up tall with the spine straight, the shoulders relaxed and the chest open. Rest the hands on the knees with the palms facing up or down. Lightly touch the index finger to the thumb. Relax the face, jaw, and belly. To relax your jaw, swallow a couple of times and then keep a little bit of space between your teeth.  Let your tongue relax away from the roof of your mouth and rest lightly on the floor of your mouth, just behind your lower front teeth. Allow the eyes to lightly close. Or gaze slightly downward at a focal point. Breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply in and out through the nose. On your inhale breathe all the way down into the bottom of your lungs filling your lungs completely with air.  As you exhale, release all the old stale air slowly and completely.   As the breath slows and deepens, let go of any thoughts or distractions and allow the mind to focus on the breath. Feel the breath as it moves in and out of the body, feeling it move through the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs. Feel the body as it rises and falls with each breath. Bring as much of your awareness and attention to your body and breath as possible with each moment. As the thoughts return to the mind, let them go, and return the focus back to the body and breath. Practice this meditation for 10-20 minutes. To end, gently let the eyes blink open, inhale the palms together in front of the heart, exhale and gently bow. Take a moment or two before moving on with the rest of your day.

Exercise Resources:

The Melt Method – Book by Sue Hitzmann

Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA) Home-Based Exercise Article

Bev Holstun Yoga Instructor

Bev Holstun

Yoga Instructor at YMCA Seattle

Yoga Classes:




Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | April 30, 2018

Posture and Balance

The Key To Life Is Balance

Postural Control & Balance

by Morgan Kriz, DPT

Vestibular Physical Therapist

 (Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 4/14/18)

This presentation gives an overview of how postural control helps maintain balance including the role of the cervical spine and the somatosensory system (musculoskeletal and joint systems).  It also offers a few strengthening and stretching exercises to practice for maintaining better posture and improving balance.

Balance is the ability to maintain the body’s center of mass over its base of support

Balance/stability is achieved and maintained by a complex set of sensorimotor control systems that include sensory input from 3 main systems:

  1. Vestibular System/Inner Ear (motion, equilibrium, spatial orientation)
  2. Vision (eyes)
  3. Somatosensory/Proprioception (sense of body’s position)

These systems are connected to each other and to the brain to help maintain good balance.

Balance System

Vestibular System

  • Size of a coin

Vestibular System size of coin

  • 5 end organs
    • 3 semicircular canals
      • Angular accelerations of the head
    • 2 otolith organs
      • Linear accelerations
      • Utricle
      • Saccule

The Internal Ear

Semicircular canals — Full of fluid that moves when you move your head around (little “fish bowls”)

Otolith Organs — Where otoliths live on a bed of jello


Vision System

Vision is human’s strongest sense

80% of what we learn is through our eyes

40% of our brain is mapped to connect to vision

Vision System

  • Make sure you have vision exam annually
    • Ensure proper prescription for glasses
  • Bifocal and progressive lenses considerations
  • Eyes and inner ears communicate
    • Via Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex (VOR)
    • Practice gaze stabilization
  • Eyes and the body connect
    • Via Cervico-Ocular Reflex (COR)

Gaze stabilization

Vestibular Dysfunction

People with vestibular disorders often experience problems with vertigo, dizziness, visual disturbances and/or balance.

Other problems also arise that are secondary to vestibular disorders, such as nausea and/or vomiting, headaches, “foggy headedness,” heavy headedness, reduction in one’s ability to focus or concentrate and increase fatigue.  (Cervical spine issues can also cause or exacerbate foggy or heavy headedness).

These impairments can be life-altering.

The Brain Controls It All

The midbrain is like a busy mail room.  Incoming messages need to be sorted and sent on.  Error signals cause system alarms (resulting in symptoms such as nausea, headache, etc.).

Brainstem = Body’s Highway

  • The brainstem controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body.  Sensory and motor neurons connect through here to the brain.
  • It also controls basic body functions such as:
    • Breathing
    • Swallowing
    • Heart Rate
    • Digestion
    • Blood Pressure
    • Consciousness (whether one is awake or sleepy)
    • Vestibular System
    • Motor Movement (particularly movements of the eye)
    • Auditory and Visual Processing


Posture:  The position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.  Other:  An approach or attitude.  (Attitude plays a role in brain function.  It is important to give the brain positive encouragement.  For example, congratulate the brain for milestones achieved in the healing process).  Posture and attitude are interconnected.  (For example, good posture brings confidence).

Somatosensory:  Relating to or denoting a sensation (such as pressure, pain, or warmth) that can occur anywhere in the body, in contrast to one localized sense organ (such as sight, balance, or taste).

Proprioception:  The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself.  (Humans use nerves, joints, and semicircular canals of the inner ear).

Human Body Anatomy

  • Muscles = 640
    • Eye muscles = 6
  • Joints = 360
  • Circulation System = 60,000 miles
  • Nerves = 95-100 billion
    • Nerves in Brain = 85 billion (of the 100 billion total nerves in the body)

Nerve function

Nerves are like “cords” of the body’s “entertainment system.”  After an injury or onset of an inner ear or balance disorder, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) helps to organize the “cords” so that the brain and body can relearn to function properly together.

Body Reflexes for Posture

Maintaining balance is complex.  It is dependent on maturity of the nervous system, mobility of the joints in the spine and limbs and muscle power. 

We have involuntary and voluntary reflexes:
  • Involuntary:  Goosebumps when cold, eyes water when cutting an onion
  • Voluntary:  Walking, slapping someone when someone slaps you

Occur through habit.

We get these in the developmental stages of life (start after being born = gravity must be involved).

Vestibulospinal Reflex (VSR):  Motor output to skeletal muscle below the neck

Neck Reflexes

The neck is the bridge between the brain and the body.

  • Vestibulocollic Reflex (VCR)
    • Reflex for the neck musculature in order to stabilize the head
    • Neck movement counters the movement sensed by the otoliths or semicircular canals
  • Cervicospinal Reflex (SSR), also known as Tonic Neck Reflex (TNR)
    • When neck moves, body stabilizes/changes position
  • Cervicocollic Reflex
    • Stabilizes head on the body (like toothpick with a bowling ball on it)
  • Cervico-ocular Reflex (COR)
    • Eye movements driven by neck proprioceptors

Cervical Spine Anatomy

Atlanto-occipital (AO):  flexion/extension “yes joint”

Atlanto-axial (C1-2):  rotational/lateral “no joint”

Lower cervical spine (C3-C7):  rotation

Cervical Spine Anatomy

Position of the Spine Matters!

Spine positionMuscle tightness can change the position of bones and spine.  This can impact blood flow and bring on symptoms such as headache/migraine.  Try not to associate muscle tightness with pain, but instead use muscle tightness as a signal to change/improve posture.  Practice exercises regularly to relieve muscle tightness, change bad habits and improve posture, and increase efficiency of muscles (move easier).

Muscle Tightness Exercises

Muscle Tightness Exercises 2

Exercise Tips

  • It is important to be proactive to exercise to calm your brain prior to it becoming overwhelmed and triggering symptoms.
  • While exercising, use diaphragmatic (deep) breathing to oxygenate the body.
  • Try using phone apps for postural check reminders and breathing pace/biofeedback exercises (for example, the Calm app).
  • A foam roller or lacrosse/tennis ball or trigger point roller ball (pictured below) may be used to help relieve muscle tightness.

Morgan Kriz Posture and Balance

Base of Support

Foot Ankle

Balance Stance

Try Exercises With Your Eyes Closed

  • If we are 80% visually dominant, consider connecting your brain better with other systems (for example, the somatosensory system)
  • Continue exercises/movement but try to also do so with your eyes closed (be safe!)
  • You may have to make balance stance easier to be successful (try not to grab for walls, instead make balance control internal)
  • Purpose:  To know your boundaries in space and catch yourself (increases confidence and reduces fear of falling)


  • Sitting
    • Move every 15 minutes
    • Neck range of motion
    • Stand up every hour
    • Knees hip width apart
    • Ankle rolls/toe tapping
    • Shoulders down and back
    • Screen/book directly in front
    • Breath from belly
  • Standing/Walking
    • Stand tall
    • Keep big toes down
    • Shoulders down and back
    • Engage core
    • Look at stable object in the distance
    • Swing arms

Walking correct posture

Recommended Books

Migraine Brains and Bodies by C.M. Shifflett

The Brain Always Wins by John Sullivan


Morgan Kriz DPT Puget Sound ENT

Morgan Kriz, DPT

Vestibular Physical Therapist

Morgan has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy that specializes in Balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation. Morgan does have a strong background in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and this provides a foundation for general musculoskeletal conditions that may contribute to balance limitations.

Her focus as a provider is for patients to feel empowered with management of their condition and learn strategies to live a functional life so they can participate in the things they love. The human body is a magnificent. Each body system has a distinguished function however all systems are interdependent with one another. Morgan tries her best to educate patients so they may be proactive in their healthcare and strives to communicate well with other providers to give efficient and quality care through a multidisciplinary approach.

Vestibular Rehabilitation is an exercise based therapy program used to treat balance and dizziness disorders. It is based on the body’s natural ability to compensate for balance problems through optimizing the brain’s connection from your inner ear; eyes and body. Morgan uses evidence based guidelines when creating a patient’s individualized plan of care for Vestibular Rehabilitation. Morgan believes getting the most out of life is to make it fun/play games and tries to incorporate this into her rehabilitation programs so the brain retains the information for long-term management.

More information:


Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | March 31, 2018

Finding the Balance Within the Mind Body Connection

Mind Over What Matters

Change Your Mind to Change Your Body

Finding the Balance Within the Mind-Body Connection

by LeLa Becker

of Passionate Path Coaching

 (Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 3/10/18)

This presentation discusses the mind-body connection and how The Mind Over What Matters System can help restore a healthy mind-body balance with techniques to release negative emotions, alleviate stress and anxiety, and reframe outlook to invite healing.

Controlling our thoughts for the sake of our physical health is a foreign concept, but I will explain. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. If our mind starts to gather false evidence about a situation, and if we start to think of that false evidence appearing real, then our body starts to flush with hormones. If our bodies do not react, and utilize these hormones, then they get stored in our bodies, this in turn will start to have negative effects on our physical bodies.

For example let’s link fear, anxiety, the gallbladder and shoulder pain. If we start to worry about our performance at work, panic sets in and our hormonal glands start to secret. Chemical signals are sent into the body, but the body does not react (we do not run from the tiger), thus the unused hormones get stored in our bodies. The gallbladder, often is over worked as it is with unhealthy eating habits and more and it is then unable to rid the unused chemicals fast enough. The gallbladder will start to clench in tight, trying to squeeze out unwanted entities, as this is its natural function. The meridian that follows the gallbladder then starts to constrict up directly pulling onto our shoulders. The tightness in our shoulders then sends a signal to our brain. The neck may become stiff, the jaw may hurt and all this extra stress on the body creates worry and anxiety and the vicious cycle starts all over again.

So what does this all mean? If we can learn to control the way we think about fear, then we can help to relax the central nervous system and the hormonal flush that happens when we are stressed, thus reducing the stress that is created in our body.

I would like to invite you to change thoughts around FEAR from False Evidence Appearing Real to Feel Everything And Relax.

Our minds have the ability to control us. Tricking our bodies to react in a certain way. It is our path to learn the tools to not allow that to happen.

Find Your Grounding Mudra

Close your eyes.
Drop your shoulders away from your ears.
Inhale and exhale through your nose. (Repeat three times).
Your thumb is your grounding point.
Touch the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb.
Notice how that makes you feel.
Touch the tip of your middle finger to your thumb.
Touch the tip of your ring finger to your thumb.
Touch the tip of your pinky finger to your thumb.
Stay with each one for a moment and realize how each one makes you feel.
Go back and piano key your fingers, one by one, noticing each one and how it makes you feel in your body.
Notice if it helps you relax your mind.
Use this mudra throughout your day to bring balance to the moment.

*Breathing in and out through your nose activates the central nervous system and triggers the pituitary gland to secrete hormones that help relax the body and decrease anxiety. With shoulders back to open the lungs, try to take deep breaths all the way down through the belly.

Find Your Feet

Stand on your feet.
Close your eyes and stand up tall.
Draw all of your energy and attention to your feet.
Feel all parts of them.
Feel the outsides, the broad middle, the heel, and the toes.
Feel the way they connect with the earth.

Notice how drawing your attention to your feet can train your mind and relax your central nervous system to feel more balanced.

*This exercise can also be done seated for those with imbalance. If seated, then try to sit up straight with feet flat on the ground. If you are unable to close your eyes due to dizziness, then try to focus your eyes on something stable. You can also try closing your eyes only halfway. As you are comfortable, try to work up to closing your eyes.

Feeling your feet combined with your mudra will bring attention to the body, resulting in a relaxed central nervous system.

The River

A few years ago a group of friends, including my younger sister and I, went white water rafting down the Deschutes River in Oregon. It was a beautiful day. The west coast sun danced on the river. I had not rafted since a few years earlier when I spent the summer on the Colorado River in a tent.   At the mouth of the canyon, we strapped on our life vest and loaded into our boat. The first 30 minutes was supposed to be leisurely float. An easy way to prepare for the upcoming rapids.  We all took a seat on the edge of the 8-man raft.  It had only been 5 minutes before the boat took a sharp left turn into what is called ‘a washing machine’. Its a swirling vortex of strong water, usually created around a large rock. The boat started bucking as it skipped along the violent waves. Our guide seemed to have everything under control.  I looked at him with a sigh of relief, I exhaled, and with that sigh, I was no longer in the boat. Thrown out, on my back, and swiftly pulled into the vortex by a wave that the other passengers say was like a hand that shot out of the water.

The icy water punctured my skin and the vortex took me in. My initial reaction was to kick, struggle, fight my way to the top. The sounds of the waves flooded my ear drums and my survival instincts were racing. My empty lungs became expired and I needed to inhale. I popped to the surface for a quick second, barely able to take in a soggy breath; half air, half water. Actually not quiet a breath at all, more a glimpse into my short future. I panicked. I was sure my future would fade quickly, if I couldn’t recover another breath. I was fighting, and struggling, and working hard, and kicking my way to the surface, but the river apologetically, continued to swallow me. Then, I heard my sisters muffled scream from the boat, and through the water. She yelled “Stop Fighting!” “Let Go!”

And so I did……

Pure exhaustion of futile attempts, I resigned myself to my watery grave. What did I have to loose? I stopped fighting. I closed my eyes and I let go! At that moment my life vest sucked me right to the surface, belly up. I pushed away from the rock and floated on my back. The sun was shinning, the surface of the water had a much appreciated layer of warmth and a red band trout jumped right over my torso.  I laid there for a while, before my boat could come pick me up. It was in those few moments of solitude, that I realized my path.

It occurred to me, as that fish jumped over my body, that my life is the river. “Rivers will flow, no matter what. I could struggle and get sucked down or I could let go and float. Rivers (lives) will keep moving. Yes, often there will be a rock or a scary, confusing vortex, but rivers and life will continue to flow.  We can try to fight, kick, and push against it but more often than not the river will win; taking us with it. I learned, that day in the vortex, the importance of letting go and allowing the river of life to take us where we need to be.”

This material is the intellectual property of Passionate Path Coaching and LeLa Becker. Created in Seattle, Wa 2015

Learn More About The Mind Over What Matters System (To Help You Identify, Break Through and Live Free): 


LeLa Becker

of Passionate Path Coaching

LeLa Becker is the Founder of Passionate Path Coaching and the Creator of The Mind Over What Matters System. She is a Psychonueroimmunologist and intuitive and integrative coach. She specializes in relaxation, stress reduction, and clearing out the clutter to see what paths your lives can lead you to.  She is a certified Homeopath, Ayurveda Therapist, Tantra Philosopher, 500 ERYT Yoga Certified, Zen Meditation Teacher, Aromatherapist and Alchemist, Neurologist and Quantum healing enthusiast.  Her path in life is to help as many people experience bliss as possible. She believes that by doing introspective work and taking control of our minds, we can set our bodies free.

More information:



Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


Posted by: seattledizzygroup | February 28, 2018

Getting Through Difficult Days With Chronic Illness


Ways To Make It Through Tough Times With Chronic Illness

Living with chronic illness is challenging especially on days when symptoms and circumstances are at their worst.

These articles offer strategies to get through difficult days while living with chronic illness:

The First Step to Take When You’re Having a Rough Day

A Secret to Surviving a Rough Day

Finding the Strength to Get Through Bad Days

  How to Have a Bad Day Gracefully and Avoid Guilt with Chronic Illness

Balancing Good and Bad Days with Chronic Illness

Pushing Through Brain Fog on Difficult Days

10 Strategies to Try When You’re Sick of Being Sick

101 Self-Care Suggestions for When It All Feels Like Too Much

Practicing Self Care for Coping with Chronic Illness

Turning Negatives Into Positives When You’re Chronically Ill

Things to Do When You’re Mostly Housebound

Coping with the Isolation and Loneliness of Chronic Illness


© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | January 31, 2018

Help Make a Difference in 2018

We Grew Stronger Together in 2017! Help Us Continue to Make a Difference in 2018!

Seattle Dizzy Group is a respected leader in the vestibular and balance disorders patient support community with increasing national and global reach. (Read about our 2017 Highlights below). We hope you will join us in 2018 and help us continue to grow, provide community, and offer support to people living with chronic dizziness and imbalance–in Seattle and beyond.  With your help, we can continue to make a difference by expanding community outreach and involvement (including hosting professional speakers on various vestibular/balance topics and connecting with local health providers/resources) and also increasing our advocacy efforts to raise awareness about vestibular and balance disorders (including participating in Balance Awareness Week with our annual Walk for Balance Event, see Making a Difference for Balance Awareness).

Get Involved!

Seattle Dizzy Group is organized entirely by volunteers (the majority who are personally impacted by chronic dizziness and imbalance). With your help, we can continue to make a difference in 2018! We invite you to contribute to our group however you are able. Spread the word about Seattle Dizzy Group and invite others to join us. Share Seattle Dizzy Group information and resources with others. Participate in online discussions. Help with hosting in-person meetings and activities (be a greeter, assist with room set-up and take-down, bring snacks, provide transportation, etc.). For more info, email:

We are an independent, not-for-profit group funded through donations. As we continue to grow and expand our outreach efforts, we are naturally incurring more expenses. Our goal is to continue to offer no-cost support and resources to those in need in the vestibular community–in Seattle and beyond. Please consider supporting Seattle Dizzy Group with a financial gift to help us keep growing and thriving in 2018!  (Any donation amount is greatly appreciated!).

Ways your financial gift helps support Seattle Dizzy Group:

  • Providing materials, supplies, and hosting for monthly support group meetings.  (Each meeting costs about $25, or about $300 annually).
  • Providing thank you gifts for guest speakers. (As funds allow, we strive to honor speakers with about $25 value gift, or about $100 annually).
  • Providing administrative support, online services/resources, and website hosting, etc.  (Administrative costs are about $500 annually).
  • Providing funding for Balance Awareness Week event(s) and other group activities.  (Costs may be about $50-$100 or more per activity).
To give Seattle Dizzy Group a donation of any amount by credit card or PayPal, click the “Donate” button below.

PayPal Donate

(Gifts to Seattle Dizzy Group are not tax deductible at this time)

THANK YOU for your support!

2017 Highlights

  • In September, we hosted our Seventh Annual Walk for Balance Event in celebration of Balance Awareness Week and Falls Prevention Awareness Day/Week with a goal of raising awareness for vestibular and balance disorders and showing our support for people living with chronic dizziness and imbalance. We started the event with a Tai Chi warm-up activity led by Cascade Dizziness & Balance PT and then invited others to “Walk a Mile in Dizzy Shoes” with us at Green Lake.  We increased our impact during our walk by wearing blue, Seattle Dizzy Group gear, and Walk for Balance badge stickers as well as carrying balloons and balance awareness signs. After walking together, we honored event participants with our third annual Dizzy Spirit Awards. As a part of the celebration, we enjoyed food and giveaways (including free visit coupons from Move Beyond Limits Feldenkrais, North Seattle Community Acupuncture, and Bastyr Center for Natural Health). We also had a balance awareness Information Fair  throughout the event. It was a fun day that hopefully helped lift spirits and build momentum for the cause. We received wonderfully positive feedback from participants, and we are excited to continue to grow the event in 2018!
  • In October, we celebrated 11 years together as a support group!

  • In 2017, we continued to expand the Seattle Dizzy Group website/blog and online services/resources and reached thousands of people around the globe. (For example, our website/blog was viewed over 10,000 times in 2017 by visitors from about 100 different countries worldwide!). Additionally, we gained followers on Facebook and  Twitter, and increased membership of our MeetUp Group.  We appreciate everyone who connected online with Seattle Dizzy Group in 2017 and are especially grateful for all those who helped get the word out about our group and shared our posts/resources with others.

See also: Past Annual Highlights

© Copyright 2018, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | December 24, 2017

Surviving the Holidays with Chronic Illness

Ways to Survive the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

Living with a vestibular or balance disorder can be especially challenging during the holidays.  These articles offer ways to survive and enjoy the holiday season with a chronic illness:

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Surviving the Holidays with Chronic Illness

Surviving the Holidays When You’re Chronically Ill

Tips for Getting Through the Holidays with Chronic Illness

Finding Joy During the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

6 Things You Don’t Have to Do During the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Holiday Tips for Vestibular Patients

   How to Survive the Holidays with Meniere’s Disease

How to Handle the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Holiday Migraine Avoidance Tips

Tips for Loved Ones:

A Holiday Letter to Loved Ones from the Chronically Ill

5 Holiday Wishes from Someone with an “Unseen” Illness

6 Things I Wish People Knew about Being Chronically Ill During the Holidays

8 Ways to Support the Chronically Ill During the Holidays

See also:

Holiday Tips

Tips for Surviving the Holidays with Joy and Peace

Living with a “New Normal” in the New Year

Ways to Survive Winter with a Chronic Illness


© Copyright 2017, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.

Posted by: seattledizzygroup | November 30, 2017

Managing Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Strategies for Improving Communication with Hearing Loss & Tips for Managing Tinnitus

by Mary Henry, AuD

of Swedish Balance Center

 (Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 11/4/17)

This presentation discusses hearing loss/impairment and offers strategies for improving communication with others as well as tips for managing tinnitus.

The majority of people with hearing loss have loss in the high pitches of speech (“f, s, th, k”), which tends to cut out the clarity of speech. This is why a common complaint for a person with hearing loss is “I can hear fine – people speak loudly enough, but they mumble!”  However there are many different configurations of hearing loss, particularly for those who experience balance problems.

If you have ever had a hearing test (or plan to have one), feel free to draw your right (O) and left (X) hearing scores on this graph and see which letters you might be missing! The letters you have difficulty hearing are the ones which fall above your scores (as they are softer than the softest sound you can hear). Talk with your audiologist if you have questions about this.

Communication  Strategies for the Individual

Advocate for Your Listening Needs

Hearing loss is “invisible.” This means it is difficult for others to determine when you are having difficulty hearing. Acknowledging your hearing loss and educating others about your listening needs will facilitate successful communication. Many are unaware of strategies that can improve communication. Education and gentle reminders to use strategies are helpful to improve communication.

Strategies to Share for Improving Communication

  • “Please get my attention before speaking to me. It is helpful if you say my name or tap me on the shoulder to ensure you have my attention before beginning to speak.”
  • “Please look at me when speaking. I benefit from seeing your mouth for speechreading cues.”
  • “Please speak slowly and clearly. It is difficult for me to hear some speech sounds when speech is spoken quickly.”
  • “Please reduce the background noise. I will hear you better if the television/radio/dishwasher/fan is turned off.”
  • “Please don’t cover your mouth while speaking to me. I benefit from seeing your mouth for speechreading cues.”
  • If you only hear part of a sentence, repeat the part of speech that you did hear, for the other person to fill it the part you missed. (“You want to go to the movies when?”)
  • “Please let me know if the topic of conversation changes. Please give me a clue such as: Movie. What movie would you like to see?”
  • “May I sit at the center of the table? Sitting in the center allows me to clearly see everyone, which will provide me with visual cues about the conversation.”
  • “May I sit with the noise to my back? It will help my hearing aids reduce those sounds” (if you wear hearing aids with directional microphones).

Communication Strategies for Friends and Family

Hearing loss is “invisible.” The nature of hearing loss makes it difficult for communication partners to realize when a communication breakdown has occurred. People with normal hearing may be unaware of the additional concentration those living with hearing loss exert to communicate. As a communication partner to someone with hearing loss, you can take the following steps to facilitate communication and understanding:

  • Always speak from within the same room.
    • A person with hearing loss will not hear your message when you speak from one room into another.
  • Face the listener when speaking.
    • The listener with hearing loss utilizes visual cues in addition to hearing. Clearly seeing the mouth is essential.
    • Do not cover your mouth with your hand or an object as this muffles your speech and removes visual cues
    • Take advantage of well-lit areas to increase facial visibility.
  • Get the listener’s attention before speaking.
    • Tap the listener on the shoulder before talking, if mutually agreeable by both individuals.
    • Say the listener’s name before talking. This simple step focuses the listener’s attention and a head turn provides acknowledgement to the speaker that the listener is prepared for conversation.
  • Reduce background noise when conversing.
    • Turn off the television, radio or noisy equipment when possible.
    • Select quiet establishments or dine during off-peak hours when visiting restaurants.
    • Conversations in the car may be challenging. Assistive devices may be helpful in reducing these challenges. Talk to your audiologist to determine if these are appropriate.
  • Visit in smaller groups when possible.
    • Many hard of hearing people have difficulty following and participating in rapid conversations between many speakers. Reducing group size to a smaller group of three or four versus a larger group of eight or more speakers can result in easier participation.
    • Cue the listener with hearing loss when the topic of conversation changes.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
    • Rapid speech is often difficult to understand for those with hearing loss. But don’t slow down too much — that can also reduce understanding!
    • Enunciate clearly.
  • Do not shout.
    • While speaking loudly and clearly are appreciated, shouting is not necessary.
    • Shouting distorts facial features and may hinder lip reading cues.


What is tinnitus?  Tinnitus (pronounced TIN-it-us or tin-NIGHT-us) is the perception of a sound or noise in the ear or head that occurs in the absence of a sound.  Some people perceive tinnitus as a ringing sound while others report it as a clicking, roaring, hissing or static noise.  It is also common for tinnitus to become louder and change in severity from time to time.   The exact cause of tinnitus is unknown, however it is often associated with hearing loss and is sometimes a symptom of it.  It should be noted that tinnitus can occur independently of hearing loss, and sometimes people with normal hearing will also experience it.

What causes tinnitus?  The exact physiological causes of tinnitus are not known.  It may be associated with many factors, including the following:

  • Noise exposure
  • Cerumen (ear wax) impaction
  • Side effects of medications (particularly anti-inflammatory medications and medications in the aspirin family
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Vascular abnormalities
  • Ear conditions, including hearing loss, Meniere’s Disease and ear infections
  • Ear, head and neck traumas and jaw misalignment
  • Other possible factors that are less conclusive include alcohol, caffeine and smoking
  • Other unknown factors

Can it be cured?  Though it is the subject of extensive research, there is currently no known cure for tinnitus.  The nature of tinnitus is unpredictable.  For some it may spontaneously resolve over time.  Others learn to live with tinnitus as a chronic condition.  Coping strategies are recommended to manage tinnitus symptoms.

What can I do to manage my tinnitus?  Different strategies work for different people.  Below are some suggestions:

  • Remain positive. It can be easy to become discouraged by limited tinnitus treatment options.  Tinnitus is an area of extensive research.  We may have insights and answers tomorrow that are not available today.
  • Redirect your attention. Many report that focusing on the tinnitus can exacerbate the symptoms.  Pursuing a hobby or favorite activity can be an effective refocusing tool.  Many report that they are unaware of the tinnitus when reading an interesting story, watching a favorite television program or having a conversation with others.
  • Explore masking noises. Tinnitus is often most noticeable when trying to fall asleep or early in the morning.  Some find that the use of noise machines or a radio playing at a low level mask the noise of tinnitus while falling asleep.
  • Wear hearing aids if appropriate for your hearing. Many report that tinnitus is less noticeable when hearing aids are worn.  Hearing aids do not cure or prevent tinnitus.  The increased volume provided by hearing aids can sometimes mask tinnitus sounds.
  • Avoid loud noises. Always wear hearing protection when operating machinery and lawn equipment and when attending concerts or playing an instrument.
  • Reduce stress. Many report that tinnitus is more prominent during periods of stress.  Consider breathing exercises, yoga or taking a walk to reduce stress.
  • Rest. Get adequate sleep at night.  Fatigue has been associated with increased tinnitus.

Where can I find other tinnitus resources?  Tinnitus information, management strategies and support groups can be found through the following sources:

American Tinnitus Association:

American Academy of Audiology:

American Speech-Language and Hearing Association:

Mayo Clinic:

TM Soft: Downloadable white noise maskers:


Mary Henry, AuD

of Swedish Balance Center





Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, images, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.


© Copyright 2017, Seattle Dizzy Group. All rights reserved.


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