As promised, I will write about the tinnitus management course I’m following. First of all, this is not a miracle cure. The tinnitus will not go away. It is a way to provide me with the mental skill to control the tinnitus through relaxation and focusing on mental images in order to suppress the tinnitus to the back of my consciousness. It takes weeks. But it’s only like 20 – 40 minutes per day. When I have learned the skills, it’s supposed to be an automatic part of me.
It is a training regime I have started on, which is important to follow, because the training slowly will give me the ability to “turn off” the stress in my body, thus making it less likely that tinnitus dominates my thoughts. It has a lot in common with yoga. Nobody learns to ice-skate in one hour, it is an exercise that takes hours and hours of trying and falling. In the middle of this training, I constantly remind myself, that the goal is to control the tinnitus, rather than the tinnitus controlling me. By following this regime, I believe I will be able to do just that. My motivation is strong. You will need motivation to see this through. It can seem pointless and without effect. But I have chosen to believe that this really IS something, and that it IS working🙂
The first step is about learning how to relax my muscles. It is done by sitting undisturbed on a chair with a straight back, head up, resting on the neck. The goal is to sit as effortlessly as possible. Soles of your feet should be 100% in contact with floor or ground. It is very much as the man in the picture I have included here. It is also important to be in solitary, i.e. disturbances are not welcome in this exercise. It is just as much a physical one, as it is a mental one.
The point is to calm down. The details on Step 1 follows…
The exercises of Step 1 goes like this:
Clench your right fist for 5 seconds, then relax it. Concentrate on the feeling of relaxation in your muscles.
- do the same with your left fist, and always concentrate on the feeling of relaxation.
- now do both fists at the same time
- clench both your upper arms hard to your side for 5 seconds, then relax for 10 – 15 seconds.
- now pull the skin of your forehead as far up as you can, use the subcutaneous muscles! 5 seconds, then relax, focus on the feeling of relaxation!
- eyebrows pulled together.
- squint your eyes hard.
- Bite hard.
- press your tongue up inside your mouth
- press your lips hard together
- pull your chin towards the chest without nodding forward
- press your head backwards without bending the neck (keep the horizontal position)
- Pull your shoulders as far up as you can. 5 seconds, then relax.
All exercises need 5 seconds of using muscles and THEN relax for 10-15 seconds, FOCUSING on the relaxation!
Remain seated for 3 – 5 minutes after you have done all the exercises, take a couple of deep breaths with your stomach (if this is hard, like it was for me, hold your hand on your belly and breathe so that the belly is pulling or pushing the air in and out of your lungs). This way of breathing can also be rehearsed on any other occasion. The more you train, the better you get, and the better it feels to breathe this way. It has a therapeutical effect.
If some of the body parts are hard to relax, just repeat the exercise for those body parts. If you don’t succeed, then just move on, maybe next time it will be better🙂
My experience with one week of training with step 1:
The very first exercise, I immediately started yawning and felt very tired. I think the release of stress out of my body was a pretty instant one. Some people might need weeks before they get a release like that (I have read this from the book; not everybody can expect instant effect).
Since then, I get the same effect every time. Feel the tiredness, become drowsy, and much more calm.
On the other hand, I suspect that the last week also brought some lesser wanted effects to the light. My mood swings were hefty, and my surroundings had to take a heavy pounding of my irrationality and irritability. I’m not sure if this was related to me beginning these exercises, but I’m certain they at least played SOME role in it.
It is said that at first the tinnitus and the feeling of restlessness becomes worse, and in my case, that is true. BUT, this is due to a state of heightened awareness and that the increase in the relaxation makes you more sensitive to both the stressors and tinnitus. Of course, this has been hard, and I even had a little breakdown. I needed to cry, which I take as a symptom of these exercises to be working. Something is indeed happening to me!
I started the step 2 today, along with an additional exercise called “a positive image”. Step 2 builds on step one, only now I am not clenching the muscles before relaxation. I’m going through the muscles from top to toe, straight to the relaxation state. After going through the exercises of step 2, I breathe with my stomach for several minutes, while I’m repeating a code word for every breath I breathe out. The idea is to be able to, at a later stage, just think this word, and I can stop stress from building up, or get rid of stress a lot faster than I can today. Mental training.
The inner image is about focusing on a place I find relaxing, and just focus on the light, smell, surroundings, sounds, warmth etc, etc. This image can be combined with the code word for a fast stress relief when I have been training enough on it.
Will report on every step taken and my experiences with it.