As a child I used to spend hours in a car or on public transport. My sister had moved from England to North Wales and we always went to see her by car, 3 or 4 times a year. This was a problem for me because I suffered terribly with travel sickness.
The journey was usually about 4 hours in the car on windy hilly roads with a crazy social worker driving. I was almost always sick and always at least would feel nauseous. Sometimes my mind was occupied enough that it wouldn’t happen until a few hours in. Sometimes it was after just a few minutes, but it always happened. As I got older, it became more of an embarrassing problem, and I would try not to say anything about feeling unwell, as I knew that the others in the car would be worrying and asking me how I was feeling, which tended to do me no favours as it just got me thinking about it all over again. I remember one time, feeling so ill, and nobody else knew, my mouth was dry and I kept swallowing as it felt as if I was going to vomit at any moment. Suddenly we drove over a bridge which was sign posted with the name of the river. The river name was also the name of the place we were travelling to and I instantly felt a wave of relief that we were nearly there. Instantly the sickness left me. It was at that point I knew that a lot of what was happening to me, was all in my head!
Motion sickness, or travel sickness as it is better known, occurs when the brain is confused about the motion that the body is experiencing. The eyes are seeing stillness in the environment but an organ in the inner ear, the labyrinth, which an important part of our vestibular (balance) system is experiencing motion. This mismatch in the brain’s equilibrium causes it to experience moving and not moving at the same. The brain then concludes that this must be happening because it has been poisoned, and to overcome the poisoning it attempts to empty the contents of the stomach.
In all cases of nausea, hypnosis can be beneficial to help the brain disassociate from any anchors that may have been created. For example, the smell of the car may trigger the nausea before it has even started moving. Or if someone is feeling nauseous because of a particular situation or environment, such as when making a presentation to their boss, then these negative anchors can be collapsed. Positive anchors can be created to associate with the situations that cause the nausea. For example the zesty fresh smell of lemons can help to settle the stomach, as can fresh air and sips of cool water.
Diverting attention at an early stage can also help nausea and sickness to subside. When in a moving vehicle, it can be helpful to watch the scenery moving past (quite often if a person tries to read when in a moving car- fixing their gaze on the stillness whilst experiencing motion- this will accelerate the nausea.) Using hypnosis to visualise the journey before hand, can help the brain to practice experiencing the journey whilst feeling well. It can also be helpful to feel in control of the movements taking place- quite often travel sickness sufferers are fine when they are driving. For those who experience nausea due to anxiety or sickness, it can be helpful for them to feel that they also have control over the situation, but in a more emotional sense. It is important to have a feeling of control and confidence to overcome nausea which is related to anxiety or nervousness.