It’s common to feel worried when you first experience tinnitus. Relaxing may help reduce stress, making your tinnitus less noticeable.
Ways to relax
It’s quite common to feel worried when you first experience tinnitus. Relaxing may help to reduce your stress, making your tinnitus less noticeable. Relaxation techniques include yoga, tai-chi and meditation. You may find that you prefer one type of relaxation over another. Here we put forward different activities and techniques for you to try.
Find a peaceful place where you feel comfortable. Somewhere you are unlikely to be disturbed. Choose a time of day that suits you – perhaps you have time in the morning, or perhaps early evening to help you unwind.
Try to do these exercises every day if you can. Aim for about 30 minutes but don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t manage it for that long. Even 15 minutes a day can be helpful.
If complete quietness is unhelpful for your tinnitus, play some gentle background sound.
Sit in a comfortable chair or lie on your back on a supportive surface. Whichever you choose, don’t cross your arms, legs or ankles.
Think about your breathing. Notice that it has a natural rhythm. Try to breathe in a steady, even rhythm. It helps to breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for a moment and then breathe out through your mouth. Wait a moment before breathing in again. Every time you breathe out, try to release a little bit of your tension. Do this for a few minutes, until you feel ready to move on to the next step.
Now make your toes as tight as you can, really scrunch them up. Hold them like this for a moment – and relax. Now do the same with your ankles, then your calf muscles, your thighs… work all the way up your body to your head, making sure you tense, hold for a moment, and then release the tension. Once you’ve done this with your whole body, focus again on your breathing – notice the rhythm, it should be even and calm.
In this exercise you are going to imagine yourself in another place – as if you’re actually there. What it looks like, the smells, the sounds. You can make this exercise last as long as you want. Take your time to visualise a number of different places, such as a forest, a garden or a beach. Take your time. Don’t rush. Here’s an example.
As with the first exercise, make sure you’re comfortable and unlikely to be disturbed. Now imagine yourself leaving the room you are in. You walk out of the door and follow a path… at the end of the path is another door. You open that door and inside you see a beautiful garden – you can hear birds singing, children playing somewhere in the distance. You feel a cool breeze on your skin and hear the rustle of leaves through the trees. The colours of the leaves, green, gold, red, all dance across a beautiful pond in the middle… as you walk over to the pond, you feel the soft grass under your bare feet… you dip your toes into the calm, clear pond and stop for a moment – just experiencing the beauty of everything around you…
This exercise can stop there, or you can spend some time in the garden and then make your way back into the room where you are, feeling more relaxed on your return.
This meditation exercise can be done anywhere. Sitting comfortably in a chair, relax the muscles around your eyes and soften your gaze. Then allow yourself to feel sensations in your body:
- your feet on the floor
- legs resting comfortably on the chair
- arms resting
- your hands soft and relaxed
- the tightness in your shoulders
- the tension in your face.
Now allow yourself to experience your breathing. Feel the gentle movements of the body as you breathe.
Pay attention to your breath and how it:
- enters your nose
- passes through your throat
- fills your lungs
- causing your abdomen to swell
- feel the swell against the back of the chair.
Now invite other areas of the body in…take your attention to any area where you may have pain or tension. Let any tight muscles soften and relax. Become aware of your feelings or mood and what thoughts might be passing through your mind. Be aware of all of these sensations together with your breathing.
Now start to move gently – any small movement that you can manage, maybe moving fingers up and down, circling the feet or simply moving them side to side. Be aware of being back in the room again, but feeling more settled and at peace.
Some people find guided meditations or relaxation exercises useful in reducing the intrusiveness of their tinnitus. This is a 20 minute session led by Audiologist Pete Byrom. We hope you find it helpful.
Relaxation can be an effective self-management tool for tinnitus. By doing activities to promote relaxation, you may be able reduce your stress and notice your tinnitus less.
People find all sorts of different activities help them to relax. What works for one person, might not work for another. Try different activities and see what works for you. Remember that depending on your mood, methods may be more effective at different times.
Doing regular exercise helps to achieve a higher level of wellbeing. This can make it easier to ignore and cope with tinnitus and can help with sleep.
If you are not used to exercise, begin gently with a walk or a swim or a bike ride in a quiet park. Tai chi, qi gong and yoga (which can all be adapted for people of all abilities) have been shown to be beneficial for people with tinnitus.
Creative activities are a great way to relax as you have to focus your mind on a task. Don’t set any goals or high expectations – just choose something you are interested in, perhaps a hobby you used to enjoy? Simply spend time concentrating on the experience, using as many senses as you can. Here are some ideas.
Grab a pen and some paper or open a word processing program on your computer. What could you write about? You could do a ‘stream of thought’ piece, writing whatever comes to mind or write a letter to a friend, or even start your first novel! Perhaps you could take up journaling or scrapbooking, using a notebook or doing it online as a blog. There are plenty of free platforms for this. Everybody has something they’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Pick your own topic and start writing.
Pick up a pad and something to make a mark with. Whether you are using a pencil, paints, or pen, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Just let the colours, images or lines flow.
Colouring for adults has been a big relaxation craze. While you concentrate on your colour choices and not going over the lines, your mind can rest.
Making something with your hands can be a very rewarding experience. Using very sharp tools is a great motivator to focus on what you’re doing and not on your worries or tinnitus.
The repetitive and tactile nature of these crafts has been likened to meditation. With yarn and some needles or a hook, you could create something attractive and useful. There are lots of video tutorials online if you need to refresh or learn new skills.
Aromatherapy mists and candles
Certain fragrances, such as lavender and chamomile, are said to have a relaxing effect. Why not try lighting a scented candle and practise breathing exercises?
This isn’t just for children! Blowing the perfect bubble depends on great breath control. Label each one with one of your worries and watch them float away.
Fly a kite
On a breezy day, take a kite and watch it swoop across the sky!
Lego, Airfix kits and Meccano are old favourites. They need concentration and dexterity to build, so are great for taking your focus away from your tinnitus.
Another rewarding hobby that needs concentration and focus. They come in all kinds of designs, so why not pick one of a place that looks peaceful and relaxing?
You can do this in your garden or balcony by hanging bird feeders and waiting for the birds to come to you. Or you could visit a nature reserve. You don’t need any equipment – just see what you can spot.
Crossword puzzles and sudoku
These are also good for concentration and focus. Pocket-sized books of puzzles are widely available.
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