Basics – Okay so you have tinnitus. Now what?
This is a brief outline of what to do during the first month?
Tinnitus is not a permanent illness that you will have for the rest of your life. This symptom depends on staying stuck in a state of red alert or fight or flight.
What you need is to come out of red-alert mode. The more you come out of this state of fight or flight, the harder it will be for tinnitus to stay in your awareness. The more you let go the easier it becomes to let go and you find your path on the right track towards well-being.
So, in the first month you need to start setting up the right conditions that will help you learn to switch off and let go. Here is a list of guidelines that will become essential tools for you to let go:
Set up a support network. Its hard to let go into nothing, but when you have people around you that understand what is going on then you can start to unpack what you are carrying inside and unwind.
The following are highly recommended examples of what helps:
Body-based therapies such as:
- Craniosacral therapy
- Cranial osteopathy
Low-impact Body-based classes
- Tai Chi
- Stretching etc
Mental and emotional support
- Life coaching
- Cognitive Behavioural therapy
Gentle exercise such as:
Enjoyable body-focussing activities such as:
- Lying in a bath, Jacuzzi
- Taking long showers
- Cuddling one’s partner
- Facial massages, creams etc
Relaxing activities to divert the focus away from tinnitus:
- Listening to gentle music
- Arts and crafts
- Chatting and laughing with friends
- Watching life-affirming films
- Avoiding doom and gloom of the news or horror films etc
Taking care of your sleeping habits and allowing plenty of rest
Gradually reducing stimulants like coffee, tea, cocoa, alcohol
If you have any worries about tinnitus medically, go and see your doctor. They may or may not know much about tinnitus but they will be able to refer you to an audiologist who will. Most audiologists know that coming out of a state of flight or fight improves your chances of letting go of tinnitus. Taking the medical route can be useful for setting your mind at rest. Knowing there is nothing untoward in your hearing apparatus can be comforting in itself.
Sometimes people have scans or may be offered hearing aids. This can be helpful. However, please be aware of those who say there is nothing you can do about tinnitus. This unfortunately happens quite a lot. These people are really advertising that they don’t know how to help you.
Learn about Tinnitus
The more you understand tinnitus the less threatening it becomes. Be choosy about the source of information. Find people who have let go of it themselves who can be constructive, positive and supportive. Please be careful of reading negative stories about tinnitus. This can be very activating and upsetting. Unless someone has something positive to offer, protect yourself from groups that revel in misery, doom and gloom. This is not helpful.
Find out if there is a local tinnitus association. Local groups can often bring in speakers that have helped tinnitus. This can be a huge place for support and realising that you are not alone. Tinnitus is incredibly common. Over 10% of the population have it. Meeting others that understand what you are going through is very validating and helpful. Equally sitting around and stewing in how awful tinnitus is, is very unhelpful!
Give yourself regular down time. Let your family or partner know that you will need to take things easy and slow down the pace for a while. For as long as tinnitus is still with you, this is a sign that you need to stop and just chill out, relax and let go on a regular basis.
If you cannot do this, if you cannot just sit and be easy or still, then go and have a massage or have craniosacral therapy etc over a period of time until you can do this by yourself.
This may take months – so take it easy, do what leaves you feeling comfortable, calm and relaxed as often as you can.
If there is nothing that does this, then find something that does. This is so important. Learning to be kind to yourself and look after yourself is one of the most useful things you can do at this stage.
Keep your expectations realistic at the beginning. First of all aim for bringing in a bit more well-being and relaxation into your daily life. Try not to focus on stopping tinnitus. This is still focusing on it. Aim for more comfort, less pressure, slowing down a bit, relaxing. Slowly focus your attention away from tinnitus and onto well-being. This is massively more constructive than trying to stop tinnitus. That unfortunately is still focussing on tinnitus.
Learn some relaxation techniques that you can put into action every time tinnitus gets to you. There are plenty of these listed in curetinnitus.org. Get into a habit of practicing these when you find yourself stewing in negative responses to tinnitus.
How much can I afford?
Therapy and classes can seem expensive at first. But they can bring about massive life-changes that can get you on the right track. Start with what is manageable and don’t overstretch yourself. The aim is for you to become independent and become your own therapist who can look after yourself. At first you may need to learn this from a professional.
This sounds a lot but an hour a week of therapy or a relaxation class, and half an hour of down-time every day can be enough to turn things round. As the weeks go by, being kinder to yourself in this way builds up into a lot.
A little often is the best way to go. Keep things manageable.