1. Avoid silence
If you don’t wear tinnitus maskers, or have a masking programme in your hearing aids, I suggest you have some sound in the background to create contrast with your tinnitus.
You can keep your favourite radio station on low or use an app that plays a variety of soundscapes such as nature, rain or streams.
These soundscapes can be useful even when sleeping. The brain is still active while we are asleep and creating a contrast to the tinnitus noise can improve our ability to stay in deep sleep cycles longer.
You can get also customised sound therapy that takes into consideration individual pitch differences between the two ears, and also whether any hearing loss you may be contributing to your tinnitus experience.
2. Eliminate any tinnitus triggers
Many people find certain things trigger their tinnitus. Mine is definitely stress and anxiety. For other people it might be a particular food or drink. I’m going to talk about identifying troublesome food and drink in another blog.
Once we figure out what our tinnitus triggers are, avoiding and managing them as best as possible is important to stable and long-term tinnitus reduction. For me daily mindfulness is essential in keeping my stress and anxiety manageable, and thereby helping me manage my tinnitus.
3. Protect your hearing, but don’t be over-protective
Protecting our tinnitus and our hearing from exposure to loud noises is important. So, we need to wear earplugs while we’re using a lawnmower or power tools. If, like me, you like going to gigs or listening to loud music, invest in some filtered earplugs. And if you go hunting or clay pigeon shooting wearing specialist ear protection is non-negotiable.
Clients ask me whether they should wear ear protection all the time. I don’t recommend it. Avoiding everyday sounds can heighten the central nervous system’s response to normal levels of sound, making them seem much louder than they really are. You really don’t want to add hyperacusis or sound-hypersensitivity to your existing tinnitus challenges.
4. Be mindful – consistently!
Studies show that mindfulness can help us live a much better quality of life even with our tinnitus. Mindfulness helps us to stop living in the good-old-days pre-tinnitus or the ideal future when we no longer have to live with it. We learn to live in the present moment, with the thoughts and emotions that having tinnitus brings.
If we regularly practise paying attention to these thoughts and feelings they start to lose their power over us. We reach the point where tinnitus stops controlling us, and we start to control our reaction to the challenges it brings. We notice our tinnitus is not increasing in volume over time, and we are reacting less to its presence.
It’s a long-term project, but worth the effort. You can sign up for the next real-time online course here.
5. Remain hopeful
My final tip is to remain hopeful! It’s not easy living with tinnitus. Some days it might feel nigh-on impossible. But rest-assured that research is going on even as I type this and you read it. One day there will be a cure (or cures). Until then we live the best life we can, right now.