Over the past two years, we’ve taken feedback from thousands of Tinnibot users and validated it against the latest clinical evidence to create a series of strategies that have proven effective for alleviating and managing tinnitus. Because there is not yet an established cure or treatment for tinnitus, these strategies are vitally important to provide sufferers with relief from the constant distraction and frustration of this debilitating condition.
Here are five of the best ways that our subscribers use to reduce the discomfort of their tinnitus. We’d love to hear if they work for you – or if there are other ways you’ve found that work even better.
There’s no two ways about it: having tinnitus is extremely stressful. Many studies have confirmed that elevated stress levels exacerbate tinnitus, and that calming your stress and anxiety is a vital first step for seeking relief.
Of course, reducing stress levels when you have a thousand crickets or a screeching kettle in your head is easier said than done, but there are many proven ways that you can practice on your own or with the help of a professional.
So, let’s start with what you can do on your own.
One powerful technique to release anxiety is to engage your brain in learning a new skill that you practice daily. Another is to start a simple meditation exercise – either a controlled breathing exercise, or some basic yoga poses, a guided body scan, or a walking meditation. The Tinnibot app has some great introductions to these and other exercises.
For your anxiety, think about what’s making you anxious. Is it your tinnitus – or are other things weighing on your mind? If you have questions or are worried about your tinnitus, it’s worth talking to someone knowledgeable – rather than seeking answers on social media or talking to other anxious people. Identifying the ‘stressors’ in your life can be a major turning point for tinnitus relief.
Regular outdoor activities like walking, running and cycling can also help to release the stress or anxiety in your mind and body. Like many things, you may need to try out several activities to find what works best for you.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is widely regarded as one of the most effective treatments for tinnitus. CBT refers to a series of cognitive skills and relaxation techniques that can help to ‘reframe’ your experience of tinnitus by identifying negative thinking patterns and reconstructing them in a more positive light.
For example, a tinnitus sufferer may think: “this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me”, or “will this be my life from now on?” A cognitive-behavioural approach might replace these ‘catastrophic’ thoughts with questions like: “how much control does tinnitus really have over my life?” or “how do I know that my future outlook will not change?”
Reframing your thoughts can be assisted by purposeful breathing exercises, and other mindful meditations that help you focus on the moment and allow negative, harmful thoughts to pass you by.
Writing down your negative thoughts in a journal can also help you get them out of your head and start focusing on your home, your family, and the more positive aspects of your life.
Are you feeling tense in your body? Are your shoulders or your jaw locked tight? Have you been telling yourself: “I’m stuck here” or “I’m scared that my tinnitus is going to get worse”?
Thoughts like these usually indicate a state we call ‘fight-or-flight’. It’s a response that you’d also get watching a scary movie, or having a conversation with an anxious or angry friend.
From a neuroscience point of view, when the brain is stuck in fight-or-flight mode, it’s even harder for your body and mind to let go of your tinnitus. Managing the fear that’s generated by your natural fight-or-flight response is thus critical for managing the anxiety caused by tinnitus.
Tinnibot will help you to recognise the negative feelings that precede your fight-or-flight response, to discuss them with your virtual coach – and forestall them through deep breathing or other remedial actions. Ultimately, the app will help you stay relaxed and grounded in both body and mind for as many hours of the day as possible.
You might have noticed that it’s hard to focus in quiet places like an office or when you’re working at home. The main reason for this is that there is no external noise, and your tinnitus can become more noticeable and distract you from staying focused. Using external sounds can help with this.
When you’re outside in nature, you may find that your tinnitus isn’t such a problem. It’s the same when you’re talking with friends or listening to a podcast. This is because your brain is busy processing sound information from your surroundings – which distracts it from the tinnitus.
In the same way, you can use sound therapy during the day or when you’re trying to fall asleep – making your tinnitus softer by focusing on other sounds. Having a ‘library’ of sounds can be a great way to soothe your auditory system.
When using these background sounds, try to find a volume that does not entirely mask your tinnitus, so that you can hear both the sounds and your internal sound. This is what we call the ‘mixing point’.
There are a variety of sound therapies out there that can help. Many people prefer high-pitched sounds that have a similar quality or cadence to their tinnitus. Tinnibot provides a comprehensive library of sounds that you can play through your hearing devices – or your phone or speaker – at different times of the day. Some tinnitus sufferers also swear by the noise of a fan, or just playing some classical music in the background.
Establishing some regular, routine ‘daily practices’ can be vital for shifting attention away from your tinnitus, and topping up the energy in your reserves – so that when times are tough, you’re not entirely depleted of resources.
In the morning, you can set the tone for the rest of the day by waking up a little earlier and trying some guided breathing, some stretching, a walk or some light exercise. It’s also a good idea to drink at least a couple of glasses of water at the start of the day.
Even if these things don’t ease your tinnitus, you’ll know that you’re feeling fitter, healthier, and better.
In the short term, you may not have direct control over the volume of your tinnitus – but you can control your daily habits and practices, things that ground and calm your nerves and your mind, and allow your tinnitus to become less and less of a problem.
In the evenings, you may choose to try a meditation or a stretching exercise, take a warm bath, read a book, listen to your favourite music, or watch a positive, relaxing TV show. These are all things that will help you relax and set you up for a good night’s sleep – so your nervous system will be at ease, ready for a better day tomorrow.
Of course, it can be hard to remember all these things and make time to integrate them into your daily life. But that’s precisely why we created Tinnibot, to help you make a start on this journey.
Thank you for being part of our community. We look forward to seeing you soon.