This year has been a challenging time for people across the globe in more ways in one. From the pandemic to natural disasters to political upheaval, everyone is feeling more stressed out than usual. This is unfortunate for tinnitus sufferers, as stress is one of the major triggers for tinnitus symptoms.
If your tinnitus has flared up worse than usual or after a long period of habituation, you’re not alone. While relapses are certainly frustrating, they’re not permanent. Follow our tips below to manage stress levels and tinnitus symptoms.
Try the ‘Tinnitus Reaction Technique”
Like anger or anxiety, tinnitus doesn’t typically go from 0 to 100; it may escalate quickly, but there is almost always a ramp-up period. If you sense an episode becoming worse, try the Tinnitus Reaction Technique:
- Stop what you’re doing and sit or lie down comfortably.
- Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Relax your muscles as much as possible as you exhale.
- Think about the time leading up to this moment. Recognize that at some point, your tinnitus was less intense than it is now.
- Consider how long it’s been since your last difficult episode in order to break the feeling that the symptoms won’t end.
- Remember that every other time you’ve had an intense episode, it has eventually let up. This one will too.
- Identify a coping skill your audiologist gave you and try it right away.
Focus on the Present Moment
Instead of worrying about how long your tinnitus episode will go on or stressing out about the events going on in the world around you, try to instead focus on the present moment.
During an episode of severe tinnitus, the nervous system becomes stuck in a vicious cycle of fight or flight, causing emotional and psychological suffering. This is why it’s important to avoid ruminating on your symptoms and acknowledge them simply for what they are: a temporary setback.
Try to separate your experience in the moment (tinnitus) from what it could mean for your life (“this will never end” or “why am I still hearing this?”). Acknowledge the tinnitus you’re experiencing, then try to identify strategies for reducing symptoms (relaxation, white noise, etc.)
For more information about tinnitus management or to schedule an appointment, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.