Stress is generally viewed as something that is unhealthy. However, not all stress is bad, and it can also be healthy. Also known as ‘fight or flight’, stress is an essential primitive response that enables us to either flee a threatening situation or to stay and deal with the threat. Some research shows that there is a healthy range of stress that benefits our brain. There are even specific cognitive tasks which benefit from a small level of stress in our systems, such as emotional or intuitive tasks.
When does stress become unhealthy?
Stress becomes unhealthy when we experience high levels of it daily; in other words, the experience of chronic stress becomes a ‘normal’ part of everyday life. When we experience stress, there is a release of adrenaline in our bodies, which causes us to breathe faster, dilates our blood vessels and diverts oxygen to our muscles so we can take quick action (fight or flight). In some cases, this hormone can also reduce blood flow. Experiencing this response long term suppresses our immune system, digestion, sleep and reproductive system. If you are in a constant state of stress, your body may not get a chance to recover and to return to a healthy state. When we are unable to recover from stress, we experience increased fatigue and long term this can lead to many health problems including, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and, hearing loss.
How does stress trigger hearing loss?
It comes as no surprise that chronic stress can also trigger hearing loss and other hearing conditions. Anything that restricts healthy circulation is going to impact our hearing negatively.
Our hearing is dependent on small sensory hair cells found in the inner ear, which translate noise from the outer ears into electrical impulses for the brain to hear. These sensory hairs are dependent on good circulation to function properly, so when they get damaged or die as a result of poor circulation, the ability to send messages to the brain is affected. This results in a type of hearing loss called sensorineural hearing loss – caused by damage to the sensory hair cells.
Poor circulation can also cause other hearing conditions such as pulsatile tinnitus, a type of tinnitus usually experienced as a pulsating, beating or pumping sound, often in time with the heartbeat. One of the causes of pulsatile tinnitus is high blood pressure, which is often the result of stress.
What can I do to reduce stress?
There is a lot that we can do to reduce the levels of stress we experience and protect ourselves from loss of hearing. Even if you already experience a reduction in hearing sensitivity, there is much that you can do look after the hearing that you have.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are effective in supporting our ability to recover from stress. There is growing evidence to support the use of mindfulness and meditation to support people who experience distress related to hearing loss and tinnitus. There are a variety of techniques and styles. All are equally valuable and have significant emotional, mental and physical health benefits.
At Cubex, our hearing healthcare plans and programmes consider the whole person and we utilise a combination of innovative hearing technology, lifestyle strategies, cognitive training, clinical mindfulness and meditation techniques.
Clinical mindfulness and meditation techniques are used to help people reduce unhealthy stress and to teach them how to recover from fatigue while facilitating greater self-awareness. It plays a significant role in how well a person manages their condition and adjusts their lifestyle to promote improved quality of life and cognitive wellbeing.
Exercise releases endorphins into the body which is useful to counteract the adrenaline released by stress. Just 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day can help to reduce stress and is good for both body and mind. Many studies have shown that the practice of Yoga can improve brain health both physically and psychologically, particularly in those who experience anxiety and depression.
Talk to someone who understands and can support you. Whether this is a counsellor, hearing professional” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>hearing healthcare professional or even a friend or family member. Sharing and opening up about feeling stressed, fatigued and experiencing issues with hearing can be extremely relieving. Talking it through can sometimes help to reduce the way we may perceive stress and our situation.
At Cubex, we combine clinical support & lifestyle techniques to achieve optimum hearing health through a 4 pillared approach called CALM:
- Cognitive Health Assessment & Training
- Audiological Awareness
- Lifestyle Strategies & Techniques
- Mindfulness & Meditation
The programme was designed by Audiologists to support the health and wellbeing of people with hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders. However, the programme is also is suitable people who do not experience audiological disorders but want to learn how to prevent damage and protect their cogntive hearing health and wellbeing early on.
When examining a hearing problem, we go beyond the hearing assessment and consider the whole person – the functional, cognitive and psycho-social wellbeing of a person. Our person-centred approach combined with advanced cognitive hearing assessments, unique to Cubex, is extremely valuable. It enables us to provide the most appropriate care to ensure that the person has the very best opportunity to live well with their hearing condition.
We believe that everyone would benefit from having an awareness of their cognitive hearing health and wellbeing and the impact of stress in their daily lives. Stress is a common cause of many physical and mental health conditions, and as discussed earlier, it can lead to further health conditions if left to accumulate. To find out more or if you would like to speak with one of our consultants, please get in touch.Speak to a Cubex Consultant >