Avoiding stress is almost impossible in our daily lives. We all have responsibilities, work deadlines, health concerns and the many other parts of life that can create this stress response. It’s important to note however, that stress can have a negative effect on your tinnitus symptoms and so it is important to manage stress as much as possible. Unfortunately, stress can become a cyclical problem, often making your tinnitus worse and in turn, your worsened tinnitus making you more stressed.
A good analogy of our ability to cope with stress is the stress container below.
Each of us has a different sized stress container, the greater our vulnerability to stress, the smaller our container is.
As we are exposed to more stressful situations, our stress container begins to fill up. The smaller our container, the more likely we are to experience issues related to stress. If we do not find sensible releases for that stress, then the container can fill up and even overflow.
However at the bottom of the container you can see a tap. Helpful coping strategies are the key to opening this tap and releasing stress from the container, unhelpful coping strategies tend to block the tap, not fully allowing us to release the stress.
Positive, Valued Experiences – For example learning new skills, taking time to invest in yourself, visiting favourite places can all be relaxing and very enjoyable.
Relaxation and Meditation – Mindful practices and becoming more present through meditation. These support relaxation and acceptance.
Getting Enough Rest – Giving ourselves the best chances of good sleep and resting our brains as well as our bodies. We aren’t machines and we need rest in order to function.
Taking Exercise - Improves self-esteem, cardio-vascular health, provides opportunities to meet new people and increases brain chemicals that support positive mood.
Asking for Help from Others – A problem shared is a problem halved, sharing can help support very deep seated emotional connections and allows you to support one another.
Re-connecting With Nature – It’s a known fact that being in nature can reduce our feelings of stress and anxiety, public space, trails, woodland provide great opportunities to reconnect.
Working excessively long hours
Self-Medicating with drugs or alcohol
Not getting enough sleep
Unhealthy lifestyle choices
It’s normal to turn to unhelpful coping strategies on occasion, in fact they can be helpful to start with, but they often decline into a less helpful routine. It is possible to swap less helpful strategies for more helpful ones, with time and practice.
Beginning with these strategies can be daunting but little and often is a great way to start, do as much as you can and try to evaluate which work best for YOU.