8-14 February 2016 is Tinnitus Awareness Week. The name of that event is ironic as most people who experience tinnitus would rather not be aware of it!
I have experienced tinnitus every day, 24/7 since I had a viral attack on my auditory nerve 11 years ago. It started off sounding like a tap dripping and then became an easier to tolerate constant hiss. Sometimes it’s louder, other times softer but it is always there.
So what is tinnitus? The name of the condition comes from the Latin for ringing and about one in ten people experience it. It isn’t a disease or an illness and, in fact the cause of it is not understood. The sound is generated within the person’s own auditory pathways. It can occur at any age, even in young children.
There is no medical treatment for tinnitus but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do about it. These are my top tips based on my own experience and my work as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist.
- Learn some relaxation techniques. Stress tends to make the noise worse. An easy technique to practice is relaxation breathing. Focus on your breathing and then make your out-breath longer than your in-breath by counting to 5, 6 or 7 as you breathe in and 8, 9 or 10 as you breathe out. Just 3 minutes of this will relax your body and your mind.
- Use your internal Control Room. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Imagine the door to the control room in your brain. Walk in and look around for the volume control for your tinnitus. Notice where the indicator is pointing and then, however you would imagine doing it, move the indicator to reduce the volume. Notice what happens. Practice this until it gets easy.
- Change the sound. Again, close your eyes and focus on the sound of the tinnitus. Imagine pushing that sound away, all the way down to your toes. As it moves away, notice it getting quieter and quieter. You might even try to push it all the way down into the ground. Practice, practice!
- Make friends with your tinnitus. The more you treat it like a friend and less like an enemy the more positive your experience of it will be. I think that my tinnitus keeps me company, although, like any friend, sometimes I wish it would keep quiet.
- Distract your attention. In bed at night, you may find your tinnitus particularly annoying. Listen to soft, restful music or a relaxing bedtime story.
If you are one of the one per cent of people whose tinnitus affects their sleep and their quality of life, seek help and advice. Look at the British Tinnitus Association website.
Contact me for a free 30 minute consultation so we talk about what you are experiencing and how I can help you.