Brandon Anzaldi

Tinnitus and Working From Home

Estimated reading time
599 words, ~3 minute read
working from home productivity tinnitus

It took me years to actually go see an audiologist about the ringing in my ears, and was diagnosed with [subjective tinnitus], a condition that affects an estimated one in five individuals. For me, any quiet room is accompanied by a high pitched ringing.

In an office, the every day hustle and bustle of my coworkers helps distract from the ringing, but at home, with no coworkers, no office noise, my tinnitus has presented an ever-present issue. My normal background TV noise runs the risk of distraction, and during video meetings, my options are somewhat limited. However, I have found a few different tools and techniques that help.

Meditation and Deep Breathing

For me, taking a few minutes to close my eyes, relax, and focus on my breathing helps distract from my tinnitus significantly. Particularly if I take a breath that is deep enough to be audible. Short guided breathing and meditation videos and tools are immensely helpful in ensuring you stay focused on that for just a few minutes. Whether you have just five minutes, three minutes, or even just a minute can give you a huge benefit. Your smart watch, your phone, probably already has an app, or access to one, that can guide you through a couple minutes of focused breathing. In addition, relaxation, meditation, mindful breathing, and other relaxation and mindfulness exercises are immensely helpful - not just for tinnitus.

White Noise and Instrumental Music

Regardless of what job you work, if you have the opportunity to listen to some background noise, it can help tremendously. Music for Programming has a lovely collection of mixtapes that are geared towards focusing, SomaFM has a variety of stations geared towards different genres and moods, and there are an incredible number of videos and live streams on YouTube geared towards focusing/studying. From lo-fi hip hop, to jazz, to chillhop, and more.

However, if for any reason music isn't your thing, or you otherwise can't, white noise is indispensible. There's the ever popular RainyMood, which has some lovely visualization to go along with it, but my personal favorite is MyNoise, and their sister site Calmyleon. (Note: I've donated to their site, but otherwise have no direct relationship with them, just love raving about them.)

Some of my favorites from MyNoise for keeping my ears happy include Cave Water, 88 Keys, their classic Rain Sounds, Cafe Restaurant, and Rain on a Tent just to name a few. (As you might have guessed from the plethora of rain and water sound generators, I'm a bit of a pluviophile[1]) They also have a hearing calibration tool to give you the best overall sounds for your particular hearing.

Good Quality Headphones

Don't skimp on headphones. You don't need to break the bank, but a decent set of headphones can make all the difference. For me, earbuds don't exactly help my tinnitus. Over-ear headphones tend to be the best for me. I've had excellent luck with AKG headphones, such as the AKG K240, but I tend to use the same headset I use for after-work gaming, the SteelSeries Arctis 7, since they've proven comfortable enough to wear for long stretches.

If you have ways that have helped with your own tinnitus, please do share them as well. You can reach out in the comments, here, on Twitter, or anywhere else you can find me. Thanks for reading, and hopefully this helps someone else that may be struggling with tinnitus in these already trying times.

  1. pluviophile: (noun) a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. ↩︎

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