Tinnitus, or a constant ringing in the ears, is a widespread problem that affects up to 50 million Americans. It can be short-lived or chronic, and people experience it in one or both ears. Tinnitus is not a disease in and of itself, but rather a symptom of other problems. One of the things that can induce tinnitus is stress. A vicious cycle then kicks in, as experiencing tinnitus can lead to added stress, which leads to lingering or worsening tinnitus.
So if stress leads to tinnitus, and tinnitus leads to increased stress, what can you do about it?
Ask yourself if particular situations are a constant source of stress. You may not be able to change certain things about work or your family life, but once you know what they are you can focus on trying to relax a little more in those situations. Similarly, you should try to remember what was going on right before you experience an episode of tinnitus. Something as simple as waiting on a long line at the grocery store can cause stress, so consider picking up a magazine to help pass the time and stay stress-free.
We all lead hectic lives, and staying busy can lead to the favorable form of stress that keeps us alert and able to respond quickly. At some point, it can all become too much though, and lead to the wrong stress that can cause tinnitus. Set aside time for yourself every day to just kick back and clear your mind. Imagine yourself on a beach or a lakefront. Listen to some relaxing music, but be sure to keep the volume at a low level as loud sounds can damage your ears and worsen your tinnitus.
Consider meditation or deep breathing, so your mind focuses on something other than the ringing in your ears. Even if the cause of your tinnitus wasn’t stressing, relaxing in this manner can stop it from getting worse due to increased anxiety. This can be particularly helpful right before bedtime, as the thought of being awake all night due to tinnitus can make the situation worse. You don’t have to join a group in order to meditate. Find a quiet spot in your home and try to think about nothing other than just breathing. You’ll find over time that you are able to do this for longer and longer periods and that your level of relaxation grows. This helps you get a good night’s sleep and increases the chances that the ringing will be gone in the morning.
You may have never considered a massage because of the cost, but if your tinnitus is affecting your work or your enjoyment of everyday life, it is money well spent. Instead of spending your next free day doing chores around the house and running errands, consider a day trip to a museum or other place that makes you happy. Even something that seems small, like taking the best apple of the bunch for yourself, can put a smile on your face and keep your stress level down.
A mental health professional can advise you on relaxation techniques that can help get rid of your tinnitus, or at least help you learn how to focus on it less. Just talking to a therapist about your problems can reduce your stress level and help you relax. Consider visiting your regular family physician or audiologist to discuss your tinnitus. They may not be able to find the exact cause, but they can offer advice on how to lessen your symptoms. Just talking about it may be enough to help.
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