At Home, Work and School
People are affected by balance and dizziness disorders in many different ways – not all of these tips may apply to your particular situation. Try strategies that seem likely to work for you and disregard the rest.
- Use the 20-20-20 rule to avoid eyestrain when reading, watching TV, using a computer or other electronic device. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet (6 meters) away.
- When possible, use LCD TV screens and computer monitors. They display flicker-free images that are comfortable to view.
- Read from a printout instead of a screen where possible.
- Dim the brightness on mobile phones and computers.
- Filter out blue light using the night shift features found in Windows, macOS, iOS or in third party applications.
- Make print bigger by using a magnifying glass, borrowing large-print books from the library, and increasing the font size and contrast on electronic devices.
- If you find it hard to read print books because of your vestibular disorder, borrow audio or taped books from your local public library. You may need to complete an eligibility form. If you are homebound, home delivery can be arranged. Service varies by location in BC – contact your local library for details. Your local librarian will be happy to help you download necessary apps and explain how to get the most out of the audio or taped books collection.
- Use natural light when possible.
- Install full-spectrum, non-flicker lights where possible - the flicker of fluorescent lights provokes symptoms for some people.
- Experiment with different colours of transparent plastic (3-ring binder index dividers can be found at most dollar stores) put over the page of a book or newspaper. They can cut glare and help you see more clearly.
- Try to sit with your back to the light.
- Consider using an anti-glare filter on your computer screen.
- Tinted lenses may help.
Decrease visual overload
- When reading, put a blank piece of paper under the line you are reading to reduce distraction from the text below.
- Cut down on clutter and keep things organized to help you find them quickly and easily. This strategy can help you from becoming overwhelmed by visual stimulation.
- Simplify home décor – if busy patterns trigger your symptoms, eliminate them as much as possible. Consider covering, replacing or removing bothersome wallpaper, rugs, upholstery and pictures. If possible, replace slat window coverings with light-filtering curtains.
- Plan shopping and driving trips at quieter times of day to reduce the complexity of your surrounding visual environment. Take frequent breaks in busy environments.
Organize and plan ahead
- If you have difficulty deciding what to wear in the morning, lay out your clothing before you go to bed.
- If you find it hard to decide what to eat for meals, write a simple plan and stick to it.
- If following a recipe is challenging, pick something simple to make. Measure out the ingredients in advance and put them on the counter in order of use.
Improve memory and concentration
- Set alarms on your phone or watch as reminders for key appointments and when to take medication.
- Post sticky notes where you can’t miss them. They can help remind you of important tasks such as locking the door or turning off the stove.
- Don’t be shy about asking people to speak more slowly or repeat things if you can’t follow what’s being said.
- Read out loud to yourself – it can help you absorb information. You can also try writing out a brief summary of what you just read in order to improve retention.
- Reduce distracting noises by closing doors, turning off buzzing lights and fans, or using noise-cancelling headphones.
Lessen neck and back strain
- Raise your computer monitor to eye level.
- Take frequent breaks – long sessions sitting in one position at a computer, on the phone, reading, cooking or working on a hobby can trigger symptoms by straining your neck and back muscles.
- Take frequent breaks to stretch, do simple balance exercises or rehydrate.
- Be aware of your posture when lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling. Keep your back straight, abdominals tight and be mindful of the amount of strain you are experiencing.
Eliminate bothersome odours
- Use commercial odour-reducing products or fill a container with activated charcoal (available at pet supply stores).
- Use scent-free products when possible.
Reduce your risk of falling
- Lightly touch a wall as you move about to give your muscles and joints (proprioceptive system) extra input.
- With advance planning, you can having a greater likelihood of preventing falls.
- Take steps to fall-proof your home.
Reduce your workload
- If possible, take a lighter course load or work part time until your symptoms improve.
- Get family members to pitch in more with chores or take up the offer of a friend’s help.
- At work or school talk about your condition with a trusted teacher, professor, school guidance counsellor or work supervisor.
- Buddy up – it’s likely one of your colleagues is also dealing with an ongoing health issue and can provide a sympathetic ear.
Take advantage of benefits
- Find out if your workplace offers employees a confidential benefit programs giving free-of-charge access to short term counselling services.
- At school or university take advantage of free counselling services.
- If your dizziness or imbalance condition impacts your ability to do your job, you may be eligible for disability benefits.
The following can offer more help and support for affected individuals and their families.
Computer Monitors and Digital Televisions [PDF]
Discusses vestibular sensitivity to certain types of computer monitors and televisions.
A Saskatoon-based online supplier of ergonomic products for computer workstations at home or work. Also stocks adjustable stands for holding iPads, tablets and eReaders. The book accessory makes it much easier to read while lying on your back or side.
Learn how to set up a basic workstation. Includes an online computer workstation self setup tool. A BC government website.
Eyecare 20 20 20
Based on the popular 20-20-20 rule this iOS app sends notifications every 20 minutes.
Makes the colour of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. Available for macOS, Windows, Linux, iPhone/iPad, Android.
Page updated August, 2019.