Coping and self-care tips for people with hearing loss have never been more needed than right now. The pandemic has been increasingly frustrating for many deaf and hard of hearing individuals, especially as facial expressions are still covered and communication continues to be a barrier.
Even the ways in which we are used to coping with our hearing loss has changed. As a result, many of us, myself included, are seeking new ways to cope. For instance, we can’t use backups like lipreading or relying on facial expressions. This means adapting to a changing society in a pandemic world.
Here are some coping and self-care tips for people with hearing loss during the pandemic – along with the knowledge that you’re not alone.
It can be hard to think on the spot of how to cope in certain situations. Here are just a few things that can help cope and work through those moments as they arise:
Don’t be afraid to ask for repetition or alternate modes of communication. Trust me, I know that immensely frustrating and awkward feeling of asking someone to repeat themselves five times and still did not quite understanding. In these scenarios, don’t be afraid to explain your hearing loss. Continue asking for repetition until you do get it. If this is still not effective, try another method of communication like writing back and forth.
Plan ahead or scope out the scene beforehand. If you might be attending a larger social event, think about where it is and what it might look like. You might want to arrive early to get a spot close to a speaker, etc. Knowing these different aspects of a social situation can also help ease some anxiety.
Ask for accommodations. If you know you might need an interpreter or captioning, don’t be afraid to request that or let others know of your needs ahead of time. This can help ease some of anxiety prior to or during social events, classes, meetings (in-person or virtual), etc.
Don’t forget to breathe. In the heat of the moment, not being able to hear or communicate can feel overwhelming. You might find yourself growing tense, frustrated, annoying, agitated, or all of the above. Don’t forget to take a breath. Step back for a moment if you need to in order to recollect your thoughts.
It can also be equally important to manage self-care daily to prevent burn out and fatigue from all of these changes. Here are some useful self-care tips:
Take a minimum of 5-10 minutes every day to do something for yourself. This is true not just with hearing loss but for anyone. However, in the days of pandemic when listening fatigue may feel all to real, taking this time can be more critical than ever. While you’re doing this, if you have hearing technology, you may want to consider “turning your ears off” for more of a break.
“..in the days of pandemic when listening fatigue may feel all to real, taking this time can be more critical than ever.”
When it doubt write it out. As someone with hearing loss, writing has always been my go-to for self-care. It doesn’t require back and forth conversation with others. You are just free to write whatever comes to your mind to process the feelings that can come with hearing loss and/or other stressors. If you’re feeling on edge and aren’t exactly sure how to articulate what you’re feeling or just need to get it out, try writing whatever comes to mind – even if it’s just for your own eyes.
Practice meditation. You may be wondering, “Where do I even start?” Meditation can take multiple forms. It doesn’t have to be listening to a person verbally talk you through it. You can try visual meditation, visual imagery, or even ASL meditation to give your ears a break while taking the time for yourself. Not really into guided meditation? You can put your own spin on it. Maybe there is a particular activity that you find to have a meditating effect. Meditation is different for everyone. Find your own niche and explore!
Consider joining online support forums. Having a group of others who can relate and understand your challenges can be incredibly helpful. Social media platforms like Facebook have a wide variety of virtual support groups that are tailored to your own unique hearing loss needs. Whether it’s to debrief or meet others like you, building a network of a community without barriers can be useful!
Take time to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. In the midst of change or adjusting to new norms, take the time to think about what might and might not be working for you. For instance, maybe you’ve been using a writing method of communication for in-person interactions and are finding that to be more frustrating. Or maybe you’re still struggling to hear through certain technologies even if captions are available. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to communication when it comes to hearing loss, whether it’s virtually or in-person. Some things we try might not be as effective as anticipated. If this is the case, consider options that may be more helpful to you. Feel free to talk to others who might be able to help access these resources.
As we learn to adapt with our hearing loss with these coping and self-care tips, there’s nothing that can stand in our way.
Hi, my name is Danielle! I’m an Psy.D. graduate psychology student with an immense passion for writing and helping and inspiring others in any way I can. I am an anti-bullying and mental health advocate, blogger, and public speaker through my personal blog and social media campaign, “Compassionately Inspired”. I was born with a severe conductive hearing loss and hope to inspire others both in the hard of hearing and deaf community as well as the hearing community. “Everybody has a story”; that’s my motto and I hope my stories inspire you in one way or another.
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