Tinnitus Habituation – Part VII

This part I think is one of the most important steps in the tinnitus habiutation process, the other other steps prepared you to take this one – disease management or coping with illnesses.

So let´s start like this: You hit your pinkie toe on a chair leg really bad – that hurts, right?

So what do you do?

Many things might come to mind, but let´s categorize them.

Are there rather unhelpful coping mechanisms?

Like emotional coping strategies which include for example feeling sorry for oneself, won´t help you to forget about the pain but make it seem even worse.

Active coping strategies like distracting yourself or doing something good for oneself will help you to shift your attention and basically forget your pain.

Something that might help in the short run, to take out the frustration might be a little scream, cursing or short blame-game like “who put the chair there?” As long as one turns to a helpful strategy afterwards.

So you see of course, that this is about tinnitus – you see, those short term coping strategies might help you to feel better in the moment but won’t help you to actually cope. Emotional coping is so easy to get into but will only contribute to deteriorate your situation as you will concentrate more on it.

So active coping is your best bet here!

Why does active coping work, you ask?

It is like a scale.

As you can see on the picture, the scale isn’t balanced as life gets dragged down by these negative factors. But the model of salutogenic says, that inner strength and resources can reduce the stress and the burden you feel like you are carrying. It says that illness and health are two factors that can co-exist and that these two factors are objective, as it depends how we determine them. We can partially balance those negative things out.

Like in the picture, on the other part of the scale are positive experiences missing, that can balance out those negative ones or level it at least.

So think about positive experiences or resources you have, they don’t have to be tinnitus related. It should just be things you have, that help you to feel better like good friends or things you like to do, because they make you feel good.

If you are having a hard time to come up with something right now, then let me help you a little bit.

It might seem hard to think of something positive to offer opposition to the negative factors of tinnitus. But think about Paralympic athletes, overcoming their disability and finding a passion they follow with commitment and enthusiasm.

So if you still have trouble to find specific things to write down in order to level out your scale, think about things you like and that make you feel good. The list can be long and then you can start trying them out to see what really helps.

Important here might be, that we are allowed to enjoy life, we don’t have to earn it or deserve it. We need to take ourselves and our feelings serious enough in order to see that taking care of ourselves is important and to indulge a little.

Just make sure, when you try them out:

  1. Enjoyment takes time (reserve time for you activity)
  2. Allow yourself to enjoy it (don’t put unfulfillable conditions on it)
  3. Get to know what makes you feel good (you need find out what works for you)
  4. Everybody is different (just because yoga, meditation and sports works for me, it might not work for you – find out what it is for you)
  5. Create your own feel-good-moments (make sure it is not dependent on others or outside conditions like weather and so on)
  6. More is less (you don´t have to carve out a huge junk of time very day – it could be a 5-15 minutes a day of reading a book, doing nothing, laying down on the acupressure mat….)

I always get many messages that people can’t think about anything else and will never be able to enjoy life, but as you see, balance that scale out and you will feel better!!

Now make sure, to find the right things, which fit you in order to do so and then actually do them.

source: Kröner-Herwig, Jäger, Goebel (2010): Tinnitus, kognitiv-verhaltenstherapeutisches Behandlungsmanual. Weinheim, Basel: Beltz Verlag