Notes from my Tinnitus Support Group which may be helpful for those of you who don't have access to one...
We covered techniques for distracting the brain from the T signal at our meeting on Monday, and found quite a lot that we had in common.
Some people have found T is more noticeable after retirement, during illness, at night. For these people, silence and inactivity is their trigger and activity or noise is their technique of choice. As I’ve discussed before, it makes sense to do something you enjoy, or something that needed doing anyway (hello vacuuming). We had knitting, reading, swimming and more.
Silence is a common trigger and noise is the obvious antidote, such as music. One member finds music distracting when she’s trying to concentrate, and that’s where white noise or nature sounds would be useful, as they don’t require brain resources but they occupy the inner ear.
We touched on how deafness can create artificial silence, and this is why so many of our members have found hearing aids to be helpful in reducing tinnitus level, duration and number of episodes. Yes, it’s really true.
In my work, I recommend paying attention to environmental sounds rather than putting on music or always having something on the TV. This is because deliberately paying attention to a sound *deprives* T of attention. Paying too much attention to T is what makes it “louder”, because it brings it to the forefront of your conscious mind. Over time this reinforces the signal and the response to it, and it will very quickly become the centre of everything.
People who have habituated to their tinnitus successfully will not fixate on the T signal when it pops up. It will be noticeable/more noticeable for a second or minute but then they go back to the activity/thoughts/sound they were tuned in to. As their focus goes back to the other things, the T signal once more falls backwards and seems quieter or goes. This is something anyone can achieve if they either a) don’t care about the T signal or b) really practice!
We discussed acceptance, because acceptance of having T is critical to being able to dismiss it. If you fight it, you think about it. If you think about it, it seems more central/prominent i.e. louder.
I made a point that tinnitus is a side effect or price we pay for having a working sense of hearing, a working nervous system and consciousness. I certainly wouldn’t want to give any of those up to be rid of T, and I can honestly promise you that the more you accept and move on, the less you will hear it.