These last few months have been stressful for everyone. High levels of continuous stress have been linked to a variety of health problems, including hearing loss.
When you experience stress, your body releases hormones to increase your heart rate and breathing, making your muscles ready to respond to potential danger. When the stressful episode is over, your body returns to normal. If you experience chronic stress, your body never receives the signal that it is safe to calm down. This can lead to:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
These disorders can all limit blood flow to your inner ear, affecting your hearing. The hair cells within your inner ear require good blood circulation in order to perform the complicated task of translating sound vibrations into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When there is not enough blood reaching the hair cells, they can become damaged and die. This causes sensorineural hearing loss, a permanent condition.
The American Psychological Association put together the following list of evidence-based tools to help you combat the negative effects of stress in helpful and productive ways.
Eliminate the Stressor
The best way to reduce your stress is to figure out where it is coming from. While it is not always possible to remove yourself from a stressful situation or avoid the problem, you can work on how you feel about it and figure out if you can change the situation. This may require you to reduce your responsibilities or relax your standards.
Cultivate Social Support
A strong support system can help improve your ability to handle stress. Figure out which friends and family members are good at listening and which ones are better at offering practical help.
Some may also find that offering support to others can increase their own positive emotions.
Mindful medication has been shown to reduce anxiety and psychological stress. All you need is five minutes. Sit in a quiet place and breathe, focusing on the present moment. When stray thoughts intrude on your meditation, simply acknowledge them and let them go without judgement. Then bring your attention back to the present moment.
Get Enough Sleep
Stress can affect your sleep. To fix this, experts recommend setting and sticking to a sleep routine that incorporates a wind-down period at night. You should avoid drinking anything with caffeine or alcohol in the late afternoon. Physical activity during the day can also improve your sleep, especially for middle aged and older adults.
If you feel overwhelmed even after following these coping strategies, it is time to seek professional help from a psychologist or other mental health professional.
To learn more about protecting your hearing in these stressful times or to schedule an appointment with an experienced audiologist, contact Today’s Hearing.