Think Pieces

Keep Christmas merry! Festive socialising with tinnitus

Your social life doesn’t need to stop if you develop tinnitus. Here are some tips for changes you can make.

By Joanna March · November 10, 2022

When you have tinnitus, socialising in noisy places may be the last thing you want to do. During the festive period, the pressure to join in and have a good time can be overwhelming. Office drinks, family parties and children’s concerts can all bring a level of stress about how you’ll cope with the noise.  

Your work mates (or footy team, or WI) have organised a Christmas meal out. Your heart says “go”, but you worry that the venue will be noisy. You know you’ll have to concentrate to hear and will sit back, smiling and nodding vaguely. You’ll feel excluded and more alone than if you’d said no to the invitation. Then by the end of the night, you’ll have a headache from all the effort, and your tinnitus will be screaming. So you say, “no thanks ” and make an excuse.  

If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Our recent survey discovered that 4 in 10 people with tinnitus have changed their social lives because of the condition. It can be very easy to become isolated and withdrawn. 

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Here are some ideas about how to reclaim your social life over Christmas and New Year. Your social life doesn’t need to stop if you develop tinnitus. With planning and some coping strategies, you can return to the activities that add colour to life! 

Be honest 

Tinnitus is often an invisible condition. People around you might not realise or remember that you have it. Be honest with those around you. 

Most people are understanding once they know. If someone is curious and wants to know more about what tinnitus can be like, you could share this video of people’s stories with them.  

In a restaurant 

The acoustics in a restaurant can make a big difference to the experience of someone with hearing loss, tinnitus or other sound sensitivity disorders. Restaurants with upholstered chairs, low ceilings, carpets and generous curtains will be easier on the ear than places with stark benches and tiled floors and walls. Soft furnishings absorb sound.  

Could you suggest that your event happens at a venue with good acoustics? It may be a more pleasant experience for others too.  

You could also:  

  • ask to be seated in a booth or the quietest area away from the bar, sound speakers or open kitchen 
  • ask staff to turn down the music if it is overpowering 
  • switch places with someone to get the best possible spot for your hearing – if your tinnitus is one-sided, have the ‘good’ ear nearest to people 
  • consider making a booking outside of peak times so the restaurant is quieter. Service is often better then, too! 

At a party 

Parties can be hard work if you have tinnitus or a hearing problem. There’s often loud music, and with everyone talking, it creates a confusing wall of sound. 

The same tips about acoustics and reducing the distance from loud sounds apply. You might also want to move outside or to a quieter room if you can. If the party is very noisy with loud music, wearing ear plugs can help to protect your ears.   

Try to focus on one person at a time instead of lots of people in a group. Get as close to the person talking as personal space (and your comfort level) allows. 

Walk into the party knowing you won’t hear everything. Give yourself some leeway, relax and let some conversations go by. 

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