Life is stressful enough without tinnitus plaguing you every day. However, fifty million Americans have to deal with this as a reality. If you have tinnitus, you know how much it can impact your everyday life activities such as going to work, socializing with friends, or even eating dinner with your family. What can you do to relax when you have tinnitus?
You might have been told that your tinnitus is unavoidable and that there’s nothing to be done to improve your condition. That isn’t true. There are many ways to treat your tinnitus. Many of these treatment options use psychological therapy and behavioral techniques to ease your stress and change your relationship with tinnitus. There are also sound manipulation techniques that target the physiological aspects of tinnitus.
This article discusses how to use those treatments in tandem and how other relaxation techniques can help you relax with tinnitus. It also outlines how seeing a qualified audiologist will help you better understand your condition. Coping with tinnitus is a pestering process that no one should go through alone. Read on to discover how you can better deal with this stressful condition.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) teaches people to cope with tinnitus responses on a conscious and subconscious level. By using a sound device that plays low-level noise to patients, TRT retrains the brain to identify and exclude noises that cause tinnitus. In addition to retraining the brain’s physiological relationship with tinnitus, TRT uses psychological therapy that retrains how patients interact with tinnitus.
Using deep relaxation exercises and stress management techniques, patients can foster a more healthy relationship with their tinnitus to function normally throughout their day. These stress management and relaxation techniques eliminate anxiety and train patients to accept the noise and no longer identify it as a danger or disability.
Breathing Exercises and Guided Meditation
Breathing is strange because it’s both a conscious and subconscious act. We take breathing for granted, but using breathing exercises has many relaxation benefits. When you notice the breath, you engage with the body’s natural rhythm and produce a naturally calming effect.
A study published in the NCBI aimed at discovering the effects of yoga on patients with tinnitus found that deep breathing exercises significantly improved symptoms in patients with subjective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is any tinnitus caused by an abnormality in the auditory pathway. Objective tinnitus is tinnitus caused by an actual noise. Patients with objective tinnitus did not improve in the study. However, objective tinnitus is rarer than subjective tinnitus. In fact, more than 99% of all tinnitus cases are subjective.
The study cites meditation and deep breathing as the primary reasons for patients’ reduced tinnitus symptoms. Yoga and deep breathing induce a hypometabolic state, stimulate the limbic system, and activate antagonistic neuromuscular systems. The study cited these responses as the reasons for patients’ tinnitus improving.
Deep Breathing Tips
- Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. One useful exercise is to use the 4-4-6 rule. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, and exhale for six seconds.
- While you exhale, concentrate on relaxing your shoulders, jaw, neck, and core.
- Trying to focus your attention on your breath for 10-20 minutes daily is a reasonable interval to strive for when trying to implement breathing exercises into your routine.
Guided meditation is especially beneficial for people who have subjective tinnitus because there is background noise. Non-guided meditation can be difficult because the silence can cause patients to focus on the tinnitus sounds. Guided meditation allows you to use another person’s voice as an anchor to return when your mind wonders. Another beneficial element of guided meditation is that leaders often play background noise to create a calming soundscape.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation uses a combination of breathing and muscle relaxation techniques. This practice is most helpful when you develop a routine. Try to carve out 30 minutes throughout your day that you can commit to on a long-term basis. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to either start or finish your day.
The key to long-term results with progressive muscle relaxation is forgiving yourself if you miss a day. You should also be lenient on the time-periods you complete. Don’t get down on yourself if you only complete a ten-minute exercise one or two days out of the week. Remaining consistent over long periods is the most critical aspect of progressive muscle relaxation exercises.
Find a comfortable chair or lie down on your back and begin using the breathing exercises previously discussed in this article. After using the breathing exercises for 5-10 minutes, tightly scrunch your toes and hold for a minute, then relax. Repeat this process at the ankles, calves, thighs, etc., navigating up your body to your head.
Once you reach your head, return your focus to the breath and notice the different sensations in your body.
Exercise and Activity
While exercise is generally good for your health, some aspects can worsen your tinnitus, such as loud noises in the gym or high-impact, high-intensity cardio. If you plan on using exercise as a solution to your tinnitus, make sure it’s not contributing to your symptoms. Practices such as yoga and stretching relieve tension from the body and are proven ways to reduce stress that contributes to tinnitus symptoms.
Exercising also helps by refocusing patients’ attention. People with tinnitus can have a challenging time focusing on anything besides the annoying noise in their ears. Doing things you love like exercising helps take your mind off the ongoing noises.
Conclusion- Sound Therapy, Mindfulness Techniques, and Exercise Help Tinnitus Symptoms
Patients with tinnitus often feel helpless when experiencing symptoms. However, with sound therapy, breathing exercises, guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and exercise, you can drastically improve your condition. Reframing your relationship with tinnitus might not be a cure, but it will help you restore a sense of normalcy to your life. See an audiologist today!