April has been Stress Awareness Month since 1992. However, stress, and mental health, have been much in the news over the past year, as the restrictions, fears and job losses generated by the Covid-19 pandemic have taken their toll.
While reducing stress is vital for your emotional and mental wellbeing, did you know that reducing its physical impact on you could help to prevent hearing damage?
How does stress impact your hearing?
Many people understand that long-term stress can lead to problems like high blood pressure and heart disease, but fewer people appreciate that it can also impact our hearing in the form of tinnitus or hearing loss. But how does it work?
Stress alters blood circulation and the blood supply to the tiny hairs of the inner ear. They depend on good circulation to do their job – translating the noise received by the outer ear and sending it as electrical impulses to your brain, where it’s interpreted as sound. The sad thing is, once these hairs die or are damaged due to a lack of blood supply, they don’t regenerate, so the hearing loss you experience is permanent.
Making positive changes
The Stress Management Society has set up a 30 Day Challenge, encouraging people to pick an action to promote their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing which they can do every day. The idea is that it takes 30 days to turn an action into a habit, so the 30 Day Challenge gives you your best chance of achieving positive behavioural change.
Here are some of our ideas of ways to relax, which, in turn, will help you to protect your hearing…
- Make the connection: Regularly call a member of your family, or a friend, who you enjoy speaking to. It doesn’t have to be for long, but it will help you feel happier and more connected to others.
- Do something just for you: It might be having a hot bath, listening to your favourite music, reading a book, going for a walk or watching your favourite film (no matter how cheesy).
- Take time out: Give computer and phone screens a break to help you decompress from the constant news cycle or social media. Get outside instead to enjoy some fresh air. The vitamin D from the spring sunshine is good for you and can help you to feel better.
- Grow plants from seed: Ask any gardener, nurturing nature creates a feeling of wellbeing. Even if you live in a flat, a warm windowsill or a balcony can be home to some sunflowers, sweet peas or lettuce plants in containers.
- Don’t suffer alone: If you’re deeply unhappy please contact a professional to chat through what’s worrying you. You come to see us to get your hearing checked, you see a dentist to get your teeth checked, so it makes sense to see a counsellor to help you resolve your problems and feelings. Your doctor will be able to refer you to free or low-cost services, or you can find a counsellor yourself.
Here for you
If you have any concerns about your hearing, The Hearing Clinic is here to help.