Tinnitus is the trickiest of subjects. The sound, cause and alleviation is different for every person. However, a common coping technique that floated around to help reduce the sound is mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as “acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them”. (1)
Personally, this approach works for me. I have had tinnitus since I was a teenager and didn’t know it. I thought everyone had background noise in their head, like high-pitched radio static. It isn’t obtrusive but it’s always there. When I started this job, I realized it was tinnitus. As I was getting oriented with my new position and reading about tinnitus, it got louder. However, when I didn’t pay attention to it, it receded. Just last night, I was reading a neurological book about music and the brain. The chapter I was reading kept referencing tinnitus. It was stressing me out and thus, the tinnitus got louder. I switched to a magazine and forced myself to think about something else. It went back to a lower level.
A new study recently came out that people with lower tinnitus distress may utilize frontal regions of the brain to better control their emotional response. This comes back to breaking that cycle of stress. If you can teach yourself that the tinnitus is “no big deal”, it breaks the cycle of stress. This is when you get stressed, the tinnitus gets worse, which makes you more stressed and so on….
A suggestion is to incorporate mindfulness activities into your life. They teach how to raise awareness about the mind-body connection. It’s also building mental willpower. It takes work. The same study also linked physical activity with lower tinnitus severity. It may be that when you are exercising, your brain is focused on the physical task and nothing else. Doing this regularly trains the brain. And fitness never hurts!