Helpful tips for managing and habituating to tinnitus. Don’t let it become all-consuming!
Tinnitus, destroyer of lives! It’s a truly horrible condition and I’m sorry if you’re here, at your wits end, desperately search for a cure, a solution, and end to it.
I’m glad you’re here because there is a solution. I can’t promise a cure, because nobody can do that. What I can offer is a solution to the problems it causes. I could help you to get back to living your life without constant anxiety, depression and anger. You can learn to simply forget about it. Wouldn’t that be lovely!?
Habituation is the process by which you become so accustomed to the sound of your tinnitus that you simply forget to pay it any attention. The sound is still there, you just don’t hear it. It may as well not be there.
It’s important to realise that freeing yourself from the anxiety and depression which, all too commonly, surrounds tinnitus is a process, not a goal. It’s a journey and not an event. There is no magical hypnotherapeutic collection of words which will free you. It is a process by which you retrain yourself to respond to the sound of tinnitus without the stress and anxiety.
What you stress about is taken as being very important by your brain. Your brain will therefore focus your attention upon the sound. You become hypersensitive and the noise seems louder. The louder the noise, the greater the stress. It’s a vicious and self-defeating circle.
Perhaps you can recognise this vicious circle in your own experiences.
Perhaps it’s time to do something about it, something different.
Every week I use hypnotherapy in Reading, Oxford, London, Wallingford and Thame to help people habituate to the sound of their tinnitus. They’ve often suffered it for some months and it becomes an all-consuming obsession.
They listen for it when it goes silent.
They let it ruin their lives. They keep an eternal watch for the sound and they allow it to drive them from activities which they once enjoyed and which gave their life meaning.
Tinnitus needn’t be allowed to beat you. You could learn to find different ways of putting that sound into perspective so that it bothers you less and so that it occupies less and less of your attention. This blog post will give you some tips with which you could learn to habituate to the sound.
What does habituating to tinnitus mean?
If you moved into a house near a motorway it might keep you awake for the first week, fortnight, month or so. Eventually, however, you’d grow used to the sound and it simply wouldn’t bother you anymore.
When you’re not bothered by a sound your brain will cease to see it as being a threat. When this happens your brain will begin to habituate. This means that your brain will simply stop bothering to make you consciously aware of the sound.
Your brain selects what you need to hear
Your body makes all kinds of sounds all of the time. Your surroundings generate all kinds of sounds all of the time. You rarely become aware of them, however, because they’re constant and because if you were aware of every sensory stimulus, all of the time, you’d be overwhelmed.
Are you aware of your feet? You are now I mentioned them but before that you’d not been aware. Your brain edits them out of your awareness because it’s simply not useful for you to be aware of them all of the time. You equally spend very little time being aware of the various parts of you which move as you breathe, the sound of your breathing or the feeling of the air moving through your nose.
You can learn to have just as little awareness of the sound of your tinnitus.
This is the aim of tinnitus habituation. The aim is to become so used to the sound that you simply forget to bother hearing it.
How can you begin to habituate?
White noise generators can be expensive and they’re not given out by every health authority. You can download such things from the internet and you could substitute birdsong, radio 4, pleasant music etc for the hiss of white noise. The key thing, however, is to ensure that you can hear the tinnitus over the sound.
Don’t be tempted to drown it out. Keep the volume the same at all times. Over time you will hear the tinnitus over this noise less and less. That’s when you turn the volume of the masking sound down and continue habituating.
If you have become depressed and anxious because of tinnitus then you may find yourself stopping those activities which you used to enjoy. DON’T! Even if they fail to give as much pleasure as they used to, get back into doing them. It doesn’t matter if you ‘don’t feel like it’. Keep busy! All of my tinnitus clients have found that keeping busy distracts from the tinnitus and assists in habituation.
If you are depressed then you’re likely to be beating yourself up for not being able to do all the things you used to do. Stop that immediately. One of the indicators of depression is this sense of reduced capacity. The more you beat yourself up the worse you feel. The worse you feel, the less you’ll do.
Push yourself back into the world through taking tiny steps at a time. Push yourself but keep ambitions small and praise yourself for each achievement – no matter how small they seem.
Don’t be tempted to find those silent places. It’ll just accentuate the tinnitus further. Stay in places which stimulate the ears and other sensory organs.
Listen to this recording once per day (never whilst driving)
It will encourage you to focus on other senses. It will encourage you to stop focusing solely on that sound in your ears. It will encourage you to leave thoughts and feelings to come and go without your becoming entangled in them, without allowing them to descend into a spiral of negativity, anxiety and depression.
When you’re not listening to the recording continue to use all of your senses, dipping back into emotions and thoughts and viewing them impartially. More importantly, learn to use these techniques to view that sound impartially. When you manage this the process of habituation can begin.
Tinnitus needn’t be seen as some alien, hostile and intrusive force of nature. Give it a name. Give it a cartoon-like image. Talk to it in its quieter times. Greet it with the pretense of affection. Every time you respond to it with fear it merely reinforces the problem. Respond to it differently, even if it feels pretend and fake. It does become easier over time. As you change your response you will begin to make the other interventions a little bit easier.
Relax! Easier said than done, I know, but do what you can. Anxiety raises blood pressure and this only makes tinnitus worse.
If it goes away for a while please DO NOT go and listen for it. Do something pleasurable instead. The more you focus on it, the worse it will get.
Watch out for certain foods / drinks which cause spikes in your tinnitus. Alcohol and caffeine are common ones. Avoid them if it proves to be true for you.
Read up about tinnitus. Understanding the process of habituation will help you. Some people find the various tinnitus forums helpful as sources of support and advice. Others find that they hard wire anxiety and negativity about the future. Your choice.
Seek help with this process before you do become so depressed and anxious that the job is made still more difficult. See your GP, get referred to your local audiology department. Find a therapist who knows something about tnnitus and the process of TRT.
Don’t fall for any therapist sites who tell you they can cure tinnitus or make it disappear. They can’t. Nobody can. You can be helped to not hear it any longer and, when you do hear it, to be completely unbothered. That will prove to be enough, believe me.
Finally, please don’t become a regular reader of tinnitus website fora. I have looked through one forum after another and whilst they can offer some good advice, empathy and an understanding ear, they all too often become home to negative and bitter individuals who have become fixed on the idea that nothing works.
Nothing has worked for them and so it simply will never work for anybody. I can only guess at the process these people have gone through in order to become so angrily resentful but the effect is demotivating, depressing and instills nothing but fear and learned helplessness.
I do understand how destructive tinnitus can be but there is a solution What I offer is supported by audiology clinics in Oxford. I receive informal referrals from these departments (‘take a look at this mans website!’) because they seem to understand that what I offer is not a magical panacea but, instead, a process through which habituation can take place.
Give me a call to find out more!
I have used hypnotherapy in Reading, Oxford , Wallingford and Thame to help many people habituate to the sound of tinnitus and it has always been easiest when it hasn’t been left to fester for months on end. If you find yourself reacting negatively to tinnitus you should act quickly before depression and anxiety disorders have a chance to set in.
You could call me for more information on 01183 280284 / 01865 600970 / 07786 123736, email me at email@example.com or use the contact form below. I look forward to hearing from you.