“Mindfulness is a form of meditation that is all about learning to pay attention to our experience in a specific way”
Although mindfulness has Buddhist origins, more contemporarily it has been applied to managing health conditions as a non-religious practice.
As such, mindfulness activities are powerful tools for becoming aware of thoughts and emotions about tinnitus and for developing a more helpful skillset to manage it.
Mindfulness: An Awareness Muscle
Likened to “building the awareness muscle”, mindfulness centers on developing the self-awareness to note when the tinnitus has become bothersome and to challenge our perception of what the tinnitus actually means.
Mindfulness is employed by reminding yourself that the tinnitus will pass or soften and choosing to pass the time engaging in a pleasant and enjoyable activity in the meantime.
Mindfulness Promotes Habituation to Tinnitus
Practicing mindfulness exercises also promote habituation, which is the body’s way of becoming less sensitive to tinnitus over time.
According to research, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) can produce long-lasting reductions in tinnitus distress and emotional distress.
Positively, strengthening your mindfulness practice can be applied to other stressors in life and is also useful to people who do not experience tinnitus.
Mindfulness Activities to try this Spring
Spring is the season of renewal and regeneration, and is the perfect time to focus on nourishing your practice of mindfulness to manage tinnitus and improve your quality of life.
Consider these engaging and enjoyable spring activities as part of your mindfulness practice for tinnitus:
Connect with nature as it blossoms into spring
1. Use the senses
Take note of:
- One thing that you can see
- One thing you can hear
- Then something you can smell
- Something you can touch
- Finally, something you can taste.
What sounds of nature do you find soothing? The wind through the trees, waves crashing at the shore, or a simple birdsong or birds chirping around you?
Take note of any smells specific to spring: The fresh smell of grass.
2. Breathing Exercises
You can also complete breathing exercises in a quiet garden or at a pond, stream, or lake. Nature has been proven to be a fitting and effective space for mindfulness.
If you're looking for a place to start, try the following:
- Breath slowly in through your nose to the count of five
- Then out through your mouth, gently, to the count of seven.
You can find more breathing exercises in the Oto app.
3. Visit nature
Have you got a wildflower sanctuary, wildlife refuge or a park near you that you could enjoy as the days warm up?
Why not lie back on a blanket and watch the clouds. What cloud shapes do you see? Taking time to do simple mindfulness activities like this allow your mind to rest and reset.
Get Active Outdoors
Could you pick up a new hobby like hiking or cycling?
If you prefer less rigorous exercise, a leisurely walk by yourself or with a friend might be the perfect spring mindfulness activity.
Yoga and Tai Chi are popular low-impact physical activities that have proven benefits to health and wellbeing. Take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight and take your yoga or Tai Chi practice outdoors as the day begins or winds down.
If you’re unable to get outdoors, take a couple minutes to take a look outside of your window and note the signs of spring:
- trees blooming
- flowers blossoming
- birds nesting
- the sun setting later in the evening.
Crack the window open and smell the fresh air or the scent of a recent rainfall.
Today, if you're able to, you could try simply sitting to watch until the sun has set for the day.
Nurture Your Creative Side
Try painting your favourite spring scene such as blooming flowers or a sunrise or sunset.
Remember that the artwork is unique and reflects your experience at that exact place in time. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beneficial to you.
You could begin to grow or replenish your own garden or windowsill flowers.
Do you prefer fruits and vegetables, or flowers? What theme can you create using colors, patterns, or placement?
Eating and Drinking Mindfully
Practice mindfulness in this everyday activity by setting aside time to eat and reduce distractions such as mobile phones and other devices.
Here are our tips of how to begin to eat and drink more mindfully:
- Think about how your body signals that it is hungry and consider which foods are healthful and tasty to you.
- Sit comfortably and appreciate that you are able to eat tasteful and nutritious food.
- Enjoy your company if you are able to eat with companions.
- Smell the food as it is cooking or being prepared.
- Take time to savour each bite of the meal and notice the flavour and texture of each piece of food.
- Consider selecting spring seasonal food such as berries, apples, pears, carrots, beans, or other fresh favourites.
- Consider how you feel while eating each selection and if the food conjures positive memories such as a pastime with family or friends.
You can find more tips about mindful eating at Mindful.
Spending time with pets and other animals can be a mutually beneficial mindfulness activity.
If you have a pet try the following:
- Sit near a window and spend quality time stroking your pet
- Note how they breathe, purr, react, and relax
- Note how soft their fur or feathers are, and look for distinguishing characteristics such as fur patterns and whiskers.
If you don’t have pets, take note of the types and breeds of dogs you see going on walks or the types of birds that you can spot nearby. Notice an adult bird preparing a nest or other signs that wildlife is preparing their habitat for spring. Learn more about how pets can sharpen your mindfulness skills here.
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy the way in which Spring can influence your mindfulness activity and take note of the benefit you experience to your tinnitus.
In addition to CBT for tinnitus, the Oto app provides a comprehensive approach to tinnitus management. It offers several resources for practicing mindfulness:
- Complete an anchoring, breathing, or visualisation exercise in the Practice Room
- Access five Mindfulness for Sleep sessions
- Listen to nature sounds while going for a walk
- Listen to various ASMR sounds to find soothing sounds
- Experiment with different colors of noise
- Identify and track you tinnitus pitch and volume
- Monitor you habituation over time
Mindfulness resources in the Oto app can be used alone or complement your current practice. Either way, Oto can be a powerful tool for improving your quality of life: 86% of users see improvement in their tinnitus with Oto.