Christmas with tinnitus

Christmas! Time for get-togethers and lovely food and…tinnitus.

Yes, unfortunately for many of us, tinnitus is an unwelcome and anti-social visitor during the holiday period. This can be due to the stress and anxiety around family visits, crazy work deadlines and noisy environments, plus eating more sugar and drinking more caffeine and alcohol than usual.

Self-compassion is the key to reducing our stress, managing our environment, and enjoying the good stuff this Christmas, without gifting ourselves a tinnitus flare.

Here are my four favourite strategies to increase peace at Christmas:

Say no

This holiday season, be honest with yourself about what you can handle. Prioritize what’s important to you – whether that’s time alone, time with your family or time in the fresh air. Then choose any additional commitments with care and self-compassion.

Set boundaries around visits

Over the Christmas holidays it can feel like everyone but you gets to call the shots. That’s not the reality. Although it might not always feel like it when family are involved, as an adult you are entitled to decide where you go, how long you stay there and who you invite into your home.

So, set boundaries ahead of time. Before you commit to visiting someone, decide how long you want to stay. If you’re hosting, make it clear in the invitation how long your house is open to visitors.

If some holiday traditions no longer work for you, now’s the time to create some new ones – traditions that suit you and your tinnitus.

Respond rather than react

After another challenging year, conversations around the dinner table will possibly turn to politics, C19, gender issues, the economy, and race relations. It’s likely that people will air opinions you don’t agree with. Decide ahead of time how you are going to respond to this – mindfully.

When your father-in-law starts ranting about his pet subjects, you have a choice. You can’t change him, but you can change how you manage yourself. You can have the usual heated argument with him and listen to your tinnitus getting louder and louder as you get more stressed. Or you can plan a response that is kinder to you, and more helpful to your tinnitus. Here are some ideas:

  • “Let me clear some dishes” followed by a swift exit to the kitchen until the topic changes
  • “You know, you and I will never see eye-to-eye on this, so let’s agree to disagree”, then change the subject (have one up your sleeve ready)
  • Escaping for a walk with the dog
  • Leaving the table to play with the kids
  • Stepping outside for a smoke/some fresh air

Focus on what you can control

There are only two things you can control this holiday season: your thoughts and your actions. No matter how much you worry about Christmas visits, and how much planning you do in advance, you can control very little of what actually happens. You can’t control the fact that your mother-in-law always overcooks the turkey. You can’t control your teenager’s attitude at the dinner table.

Challenging as it is, the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to let go of everything you can’t control. Believe me, it’s liberating.

If you’d like to find out more about how self-compassion can help you thrive with tinnitus, look at my Bee Empowered course