Tinnitus can be difficult without professional guidance. Here are 5 common mistakes people make with tinnitus and how to avoid the pitfalls of life with tinnitus.
Reminder #1: Create a comprehensive sound therapy plan
Sound therapy is a crucial method for soothing the auditory system. Sound therapy can offer necessary relief from tinnitus for those patients who have trouble working in quiet environments or difficulty falling asleep at night.
By presenting other sounds, sound therapy works to diminish the strength of tinnitus. Without other sound inputs, patients are more likely to be bothered by the loudness of their condition, which can then trigger anxiety or poor sleep.
Having a sound therapy plan is a great way to reduce the volume when you’re listening to sound therapy and soothe your auditory system. In Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), there’s something called the mixing point. You have the loudness of your tinnitus, and then you also have the sound therapy you’re going to use. The mixing point involves the sound therapy coming very close to—but not completely masking—your tinnitus.
You will also want to determine your chosen sound that’s going to help you. Patients often prefer higher pitched sounds with a similar cadence and quality to their tinnitus, such as the sound of water running or crickets chirping.
The way to actually use the sound therapy are through hearing devices that go inside your ears or on top of your ear, or even through something like a bone conduction headset, cell phone, or speaker.
Reminder #2: Be mindful of the fight-or-flight response
If you have tinnitus, it’s very important that you become mindful of your body’s fight-or-flight response. When this response activates, your tinnitus will often become louder. If you find yourself stuck in a state of fear and saddled with thoughts like “I don’t know if this tinnitus is going to get a lot worse” and “I don’t really know what I can do,” then it’s going to be hard for your body and mind to let go and ease your tinnitus. While the fight-or-flight response naturally occurs throughout our day, it is important to stay grounded in our parasympathetic nervous system for as many hours of the day as possible.
Some common scenarios that involve activating the fight-or-flight response include watching action movies, watching the news, or having conversations with people that make you feel anxious. It’s in these instances where positive psychology and reliable stress reduction techniques can work wonders and help to ease your nervous system and, in tandem, your tinnitus.
Reminder #3: Manage stress and anxiety
The volume and intensity of our tinnitus is often linked to how much stress and anxiety we’re experiencing. The good news is that there are practices that can help to counter these feelings.
One way of mitigating stress and anxiety involves taking stock of any situations or people who might be triggering these kinds of responses in you. Another way is to think about how you relate to your tinnitus, and whether you’re stuck in a negative thought loop. In these instances, you might find relief by talking to a specialist, therapist, or support group. That said, be mindful of talking to tinnitus patients who are stuck in negative thought patterns, as this might trigger further stress and anxiety for you.
Another way of mitigating stress and anxiety is through various meditative practices such as yoga, tai chi, guided body scans, and sitting or walking meditation. There are plenty of videos and resources available online (including on the Treble Health website and YouTube channel) that can teach you how to begin one of these practices. Ultimately, if you can pinpoint your stress and anxiety triggers, you will soon find your tinnitus getting better.
Reminder #4: Deconstruct negative thinking patterns
It is important to cultivate an awareness of negative thinking patterns, which can often make your tinnitus much worse than it has to be. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often touted as one of the best ways of catalyzing awareness of negative thinking patterns and thereby improving tinnitus.
Let’s break down a common situation: a patient thinks of her tinnitus as the worst thing that’s ever happened to her, and thus considers it the prime reason why her life has gotten so much worse. A cognitive behavioral approach to this pattern of thinking would involve unpacking these thoughts and determining the patient’s sense of control as well as their future outlook, and ultimately determining how the patient relates to her tinnitus.
From there, there are many opportunities to rewire how the patient might relate to these thoughts. Some techniques include focusing on the breath or jotting down thoughts in a notebook. All in all, it’s important to remember that the sensation of tinnitus is heavily linked to our psychology and how we think.
Reminder #5: Establish daily wellness practices
Daily wellness practices are essential to shifting your attention away from tinnitus and grounding your experience. They work to alleviate stress and anxiety and restore energy.
In the morning, some daily wellness practices might include guided breathing exercises, going on walks, exercising, and drinking water. You also might want to experiment with some of the meditative practices mentioned previously, like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
In the evening, some daily wellness practices might include stretching, taking warm baths or showers, reading, listening to music or sound therapy, or any other habit that works to ease your nervous system and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep.
Even if your tinnitus doesn’t noticeably change at first, these daily wellness practices give you something to consistently work towards and thereby help lay the foundation for your tinnitus to improve further into the future.
What To Do Next For Tinnitus
At Treble Health, we know the importance of having a comprehensive approach to tinnitus management. That includes neuroplasticity, sound therapy, and proper medical tests. We put together a consumer guide to help you master tinnitus management so you can improve tinnitus once and for all. Click here to get the free Tinnitus Guide: 2022 Edition.
Want to speak with an expert audiologist about your options for tinnitus treatment instead? At the tap of a finger, you can schedule a free Treble Health Tinnitus Consultation today! You’ll be connected with a real audiologist, not a salesperson, and there is no obligation or commitment.