Tinnitus affects roughly 50 million people in the U.S., and many report that stress is a major trigger for episodes. Managing stress during everyday life is difficult enough, but may feel impossible during a pandemic and season of civil unrest. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to decrease your stress in order to help relieve your tinnitus.
Link Between Stress & Tinnitus
When you’re experiencing severe tinnitus, your nervous system is stuck in over-activation. This both increases your baseline anxiety levels and lowers your anxiety threshold so it becomes much easier to feel panicked.
Not only can stress worsen tinnitus, but severe tinnitus can also make you feel stressed. This is the unfortunate cycle many find themselves in.
Below are some tips for managing your stress levels during this uncertain time.
Make a Concrete Plan in Times of Uncertainty
While there may be a lot going on in the world that is outside your control, having a plan in place can help you gain a sense of safety. Here is a four-step framework for planning for the worst:
- List what could go wrong. Include worst-case scenarios to help the alleviate uncertainty and give clarity and specificity to your anxieties.
- List preventative measures. For each problem you list, write down something you can do to help minimize the risk of it actually coming to fruition.
- List supplies. If you need tools or supplies to deal with the problem, make a list of what you need. This may include toiletries, entertainment, medications and other emergency equipment.
- List next steps. For each problem, come up with a detailed plan of action for what you will do if it actually happens, or how you will get to safety/recover afterward.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are common tools for managing stress, anxiety and panic. Even if this method does not fully ease your anxiety, it should help you feel more grounded and calm. The steps below are part of the Quick Coherence technique.
- Focus your attention to your heart. Imagine your breath flowing in and out of your chest, taking time to breathe more slowly and deeply than usual. Try to inhale for five full seconds and exhale for five full seconds.
- Make an attempt to experience a regenerative emotion, like appreciation or love for someone or something in your life. Think of a loved one, a special place, an accomplishment or a general feeling you want to experience again.
For more tinnitus management techniques, call the experts at Indiana Hearing Specialists today.