Tinnitus Management Techniques
There are a few ways in which we can continue or start to manage tinnitus from home. Some of these techniques do take time and need some form of direction from your Tinnitus Specialist.
1) If you have hearing aids but feel because you are at home in less challenging environments that you do not need to wear them, being firstly an Audiologist I would suggest you wear these as much as you can even if you are in quiet environments. The stimulation you get via hearing even the tiniest sounds help with regards to your tinnitus.
2) Sound Enrichment using natural sounds is a great way to help reduce anxiety but also provide some calming sound stimulation, especially in a quiet house. Sound machines are available from the Healthcare providers listed at the end of the article. In addition, the nature sounds for sleep lite app or calm app can provide some constant natural sounds.
3) Relaxation- learning some form of relaxation is a helpful way of reducing anxiety and stress at this time. Different types of relaxation include breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and muscle stretching. Most of the time people will find one or two techniques that work for them, but it is helpful to try a few different types.
At the moment I have found there are many classes available online for meditation and yoga and each seems to be useful. It may be worth searching these and finding some time to try them. Using some simple techniques regularly may help you to improve your quality of life and make a real difference to living with tinnitus. It does take practice to develop good relaxation techniques, and what may help one day, may not do so the next – so don’t give up if at first it does not seem to help.
The beauty and strength of the breathing exercises are that you can do them anywhere and at any time - standing, walking, sitting or lying down whilst in isolation. You will find more breathing exercises in books on Stress Management, Relaxation, and Yoga etc. Practice when you feel good; then at times of stress you will almost automatically, be able to restore calm and balance.
1. Think about your breathing. Notice that it has a natural rhythm. Try to breathe in a steady, even rhythm. It helps to breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for a moment and then breathe out through your mouth. Wait a moment before breathing in again. Every time you breathe out, try to release a little bit of your tension. Do this for a few minutes, until you feel ready to move on to the next step.
2. Next, extend the control by taking a complete breath in through your nose for a slow count of 3. Fill your lungs completely. Breathe out through your mouth for a slow count of 3.
3. Further extend the exercise by breathing in for your count of 3 and out for a count of 6. Repeat several times, focussing on your breaths.
4. Take a normal breath in through the nose and out through the nose. When you think the lungs are empty blow out through the mouth - it is surprising how much air remains. Repeat several times.
These exercises take more time but will enable you to experience a deeper sense of relaxation. As you tighten each group of muscles breathe in. Hold the tension then as you breathe out relax and let the tensed muscle go. Aim for about 30 minutes but don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t manage it for that long. Even 15 minutes a day can be helpful. Complete quietness may be unhelpful for your tinnitus – if you find this is the case, then play some gentle background sound.
1. Think about your breathing. Notice that it has a natural rhythm. Try to breathe in a steady, 5. Stretch the neck (comfortably) hold - relax. even rhythm. It helps to breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for a moment and
then breathe out through your mouth. Wait a moment before breathing in again. Every time 6. Pull the shoulders forward feeling the stretch across the back - hold - relax. you breathe out, try to release a little bit of your tension. Do this for a few minutes, until you
feel ready to move on to the next step. 7. Stretch the right arm, hand & fingers -hold, relax; do the same on the left.
2. Tense the forehead by raising the eyebrows, breathe in - hold- breathe out and relax. 8. Press the small of your back into the chair - hold and relax.
3. Tense the eyes by keeping them tight shut - hold - relax. 9. Stretch the right leg, foot and toes - hold and relax; do the same on the left.
4. Tense the jaw by yawning (comfortably) -hold- relax. 10. Focus on stretching the whole body- hold- relax and rest for a minute.
Tips for After Relaxation
When you have spent as much time as you wish on yourself, gently stretch the body (like a cat does) and in your own time, become alert and active once more. Find time during the day to remember what it is like to relax deeply. Find a comfortable chair and sit for a moment, allowing yourself to let go as much as you can. Over time, you will learn that you can practice relaxation anywhere. The abilities to relax are all within you. Be kind to yourself, be gentle with yourself, look after yourself and you will greatly benefit.
Regular exercise helps the body achieve a higher level of well-being and in most cases, this helps people to ignore and cope with their tinnitus better. If you are not used to exercise, and due to restrictions currently I would aim to start walking for 10-20 minutes. Once you can comfortably walk this distance, you can increase this as you go adhering to Government exercise guidelines and distancing. Increased exercise can also help you to sleep better, so try to do a range of exercises.
Hopefully, some of these techniques can be of use to you whilst we are in isolation. As mentioned, I would always suggest a guided way forward and initial thorough assessment of Tinnitus and Sound sensitivity and so speaking with a Tinnitus Specialist can be useful and productive.