Managing tinnitus is not an easy task. Usually it involves a combination of psychology, sound therapy, and relaxation. Loud tinnitus spikes the emotional brain. Your brain needs to make sure you’re safe and protected. There may be ways to deal with this psychological reaction. Once you do that, the tinnitus may come down as well.
When your emotional brain and limbic system are on high alert, it triggers your autonomic nervous system to enter the fight-or-flight state. Specifically, the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the physiological response in your body goes on high alert. And between those three areas, it creates a feedback loop. This feedback loop is what creates long term bothersome tinnitus.
When you can find ways to stop the feedback loop, you’re likely to see improvements with your quality of life related to tinnitus. I had a patient see me once for their first session. And after I explained the details about this feedback loop, they looked at me and they said, “Ben, I can’t believe that I went so many months obsessing about my tinnitus and I wasn’t aware about this feedback loop occurring in my own body.”
The worrying mind is the emotional center of our brain, which is there to protect us. That emotional brain sends us a message through our limbic system that says tinnitus is a threat, we need to pay attention to this.
The worrying mind latches on to that and creates these negative emotional reactions to the ringing in your ears that worrying mind projects us into the future. The worst case scenario and the bad things that could happen. That worrying mind takes us out of the present moment, and it takes us out of our body and our homeostasis in our nervous system.
At Home Exercises For Tinnitus
I recommend mind-body practices because they help you build a strong relationship to your own body. That calms your nervous system down. Through that process you will have a better relationship with the present moment, and less worrying and concerned about the future. A lot of my patients have significant stress and anxiety because they can’t imagine living the rest of their lives with tinnitus. Active mind-body practices like guided breathing, guided meditation, yoga or tai chi may help your tinnitus.
The sad truth is that as a human being, we rarely learn about what it means to be human. Every human undergoes emotional reactions, negative thoughts, and automatic negative thinking towards certain situations. As a whole, those who are significantly bothered by their tinnitus tend to have stronger automatic negative thoughts than those people with tinnitus who are not bothered by it.
Check in with yourself on that and ask yourself, “Am I someone who has patterns of negative thinking? Am I someone who constantly worries or has fears about the future?”
Learning about tinnitus oftentimes is learning about yourself. So what can you do right now knowing all of this?
I invite you to pick one action step, something that seems within your means, but is stretching yourself towards the edge of your comfort zone. Try something new for your tinnitus. If tinnitus is relatively new in your life, try to spend less time thinking about it. If you’ve had tinnitus for a long time and it’s been bothersome for a while, then try to directly impact your parasympathetic nervous system and calm yourself with a mind-body technique.
Parasympathetic Nervous System Deals With Tinnitus
The parasympathetic nervous system is something that is activated when we’re calm, relaxed, and in our body. I’ve had my own personal experiences where doing practices that get me into my parasympathetic nervous system can significantly calm me down and relax me. This may also help you deal with tinnitus. Mind-body practices get me out of my mind, which tends to magnify and increase my negative thinking about the future, the past, or sometimes how much pain I have.
I also see this in my clients when they can understand this relationship between their nervous system, auditory brain, and emotional reactions. I’m not here to say that your emotional reactions are going to go away or that you’re never going to be upset or frustrated by your tinnitus; however, when we develop this relationship of education and knowledge about what it means, then you can have shorter periods of downward effects of your tinnitus. You can learn how to deal with your tinnitus.
How to Improve Stress, Anxiety, and Depression of Tinnitus
My clients typically learn how to deal with their tinnitus. They are able to put in the time to understand the relationship between the auditory brain, the emotional brain, and the nervous system. You can select mind-body techniques that work for your lifestyle. They will help you rest into that parasympathetic nervous system that calms and relax the entire body.
Essentially, these practices help you improve your quality of life related to tinnitus. They are very helpful for reducing the amount of stress, anxiety, or depression you may have from your tinnitus. By being able to understand your parasympathetic nervous system, you can have direct control over how your body is reacting to the tinnitus. Typically as time goes on, you’re also able to develop a stronger sense of control, where you’re able to observe your negative reactions and negative thoughts towards your tinnitus, instead of identifying with them and creating this downward spiral of negative thinking.
There’s different ways to dive into these methods. Pure Tinnitus has simple videos, which can be helpful. Other people prefer one-on-one tinnitus retraining therapy. I offer online one on one therapy sessions. You can find my services here.
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And remember to take your tinnitus journey one step at a time.