There is a saying that “We hear with our ears but listen with our brains.”
This is true! It means that a major hidden effect of hearing loss is tiredness and cognitive overload. Hearing loss means your brain is having to work extra hard...to detect sounds, work out what is being said and fill in the missing pieces, often in noisy situations. This takes a huge amount of mental effort and if you have a hearing loss, even a simple conversation with friends can feel like a marathon!
We need to be mindful of this listening effort and listening fatigue because of its direct impact on physical and mental wellbeing.
The widespread use of face masks has created added listening effort; take a look at this excellent article
Hearing Like Me: https://www.hearinglikeme.com/listening-fatigue-and-face-masks/
So what can we do about listening fatigue?
Here are some top tips and ideas from those who know best; people living with hearing loss.
Dr Helen Willis is a bilateral cochlear implant user and was born profoundly deaf. Dr Willis wrote an article ‘ Empowering deaf children with cochlear implants to manage listening effort: a ‘Go for Gold’ strategy’ in BATOD’s September 2019 magazine.
Read more of her excellent resource for children and adults called “Go for Gold”
Helen talks about building “golden silences” into your day.
The key for “golden silences” is that they are:
- Completely undemanding
- A regular, consistent daily practice.
Try to let your brain have at least one golden silence every day!
Helen reminds us that “Playing computer games, watching television, or using social media and apps on your phone will not create the golden silences you need even if the sound is turned off. This is because research shows that a lot of brain work is used in these electronic activities, so they are not relaxing for your brain. The same problem happens with listening to music too (even soothing music), because it needs too much brain work.”
For some CI users this means taking their implants off. Emma Cartwright talks about her “golden silences” as “ears off time”. Read about her experiences on the “Hear Like me” blog:
Hearing technology has changed so many lives and has opened up a world of possibilities to deaf children and adults and of course, time spent using the technology and listening is essential to keep people connected and communicating. But don’t under estimate the value of ‘switching off’, stepping away from a noisy, demanding world and enjoying the power of silence.