How to look after yourself to help tinnitus:
1 It is essential to develop body awareness and learn how to relax if you want to help your tinnitus. Go to a yoga, tai chi, or Pilates class on a weekly basis so you will have correct tuition and learn to get out of your head and get in touch with your body. This will prove invaluable in the long-term and will teach you techniques for those bad days when you feel overwhelmed.
2 Find a body therapist you like and feel comfortable with, and who cares about your well being! Visit them once a week until things feel more manageable and then renegotiate how often is appropriate. You will need direct support in learning how to let go. It is much easier with someone else helping you.
3 If you are suffering from severe tinnitus, find a tinnitus counsellor or someone who has worked through tinnitus themselves and understands what you are going through. Please avoid practitioners or other tinnitus people promoting negative views on tinnitus. It is important to maintain a clear and positive focus with this condition with caring support.
- 4 Reduce stimulants like coffee, chocolate, tea & alcohol. These all raise you adrenaline levels and therefore make you more sensitive to tinnitus! Bring about any change very gradually so it is not stressful for your body.
5 Put aside one part of the day which is for you, where you are not to be disturbed. This means switching off the phone and telling others that you are having some down time. Ideally spend some time relaxing, noticing how you are feeling, and do something which calms the mind. If this is difficult for you because you are too accelerated, unhappy or agitated, then consider visiting a psychotherapist or counsellor who can help you feel more comfortable with yourself. If you cannot fit this in because of your lifestyle, then seriously consider changing your lifestyle!
6 Learn specific relaxation techniques for when you have a bad day. When things get bad learn to recognise that you have gone into orbit and take positive action. Contact your therapist and go and get support. Do something calming rather than allow your thoughts to run away with themselves. Practice a body calming technique that you have learnt from your classes.
7 Take regular low-impact exercise that is calming and puts you in touch with your body. e.g. when you walk, feel yourself walking and notice what is going on around you rather than planning, analysing, and thinking furiously in your head.
8 If you have had thrush/Candida seek the help of a nutritionist or read about this syndrome, which can lead to tinnitus. You may need to avoid sugar, yeast, cheese, bread, wine and beer etc to help your system settle and let go of tinnitus. There is plenty of information in bookshops and on the Internet. This condition can arise after antibiotics, and you might need to take pro-biotics to help balance your gut.
9 Avoid silence, which can make you more aware of your tinnitus. Learn to choose sounds which are comforting and play/have them in the background. This might include your favourite music, or the sound of a river or the sea. Spend time specifically listening to something you love hearing on a regular basis.
10 When you find yourself worrying or feeling negative, take positive action. Do something that focuses you, calms you down, and makes you feel better. Don’t stew in your mind.
11 Start using your tinnitus as a “healthometre”. It will soon tell you if you are doing the right thing because it will calm down. If it has got worse, try and consider what made it worse.
12 Take a long-term view. Expect things to improve gradually the more you look after yourself, give yourself time out and get support. Your tinnitus will get better the more you feel comfortable in yourself.
Julian Cowan Hill MA UKCP RCST
Julian runs a psychotherapy and craniosacral therapy practice out of Paddington, London.
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