Have you been running out of energy easier? Do you seem more tired than before after a normal day of socializing or working? Hearing loss could be the culprit! Although fatigue and hearing loss don’t seem to be related, they are actually more closely tied together than you may know. The meaning of the word ‘fatigue’ actually means “extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion”. Effortful listening, or straining to hear due to hearing loss can often lead to mental fatigue. To elaborate, see below:
Be honest, could you easily read that sentence? (It says, “Can you read this sentence effortlessly?”) Now imagine hearing all day long like that - just catching pieces and parts of what’s being said, straining to hear to fill in those blanks. Working to fill in the blanks offers you a perfect example of the demands of listening for someone with hearing loss - they’re trying to do the same thing in all their daily conversations.
The fatigue may be caused by your cognitive load
An example of “cognitive load” is: To make sense and process the auditory bits and pieces of all the sounds you hear. The brain becomes preoccupied with filling in the blanks, lessening the energy the brain has to process and store what’s heard into your working memory. This extra effort your brain is using to make sense of speech, especially when there is background noise, places additional anxiety and stress on the person trying to hear. Being physically tired, or the “drained” sensation felt at the end of the day can be the result of a rush of adrenaline caused by the added anxiety and stress.
This information is very important for all those with hearing loss - important both in their personal and professional lives. It’s quite clear that if you don’t have to expend the energy to fill in those auditory blanks, more cognitive energy would remain to allow you to listen, hear and understand with less effort.
How to manage and reduce your cognitive load
The world we live in is big, busy, and noisy! The fatigue that comes from your listening efforts is a very unfortunate side effect of living in this world. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Following are a few things you can do to limit the impact of hearing loss and any associated mental fatigue:
- Allow yourself to take a break - As soon as it becomes obvious to you that you’re straining to listen in a work or social environment, take a small break and relax to allow your mind to relax from the stresses of listening. A few methods to help de-stress and invigorate alertness can be: stepping away from the action, using noise cancelling earbuds/headphones to lessen overstimulation, even taking a short nap. Whenever possible, take a break from all audio action in your life.
- Meditation - When you meditate, you’re able to reach the calmness inside yourself. By doing this, it can allow you to dampen and even quiet the stresses of labored hearing due to hearing loss. Widely becoming a popular tool for physical and mental wellbeing, meditation is something that is free, can be done anywhere and even offers proven benefits from short 5 minute sessions.
- Record, playback, transcribe - Listening intensive ventures, for those with hearing loss, like meetings or course work, may raise your stress level by fearing you’ll miss important details. Fortunately, there is new technology and even smartphone apps that you can use in situations like this. This technology, whether it's through an app or website, is able to stream directly to your hearing aid, or even transcribe dictation via voice recognition technology. Our Livio Edge AI hearing aids and Thrive Hearing App include a Transcribe feature. Check out how it works int he video below!
- Don’t work harder, work smarter! - Now that we’ve mentioned hearing aids, let us tie that into our subject. Hearing aids are an obvious and outstanding solution to help you temper the stresses related to hearing loss. It’s easy to work with a hearing healthcare professional and depend on their experience to pick out the very best hearing aid technology that jives with your lifestyle and needs. There is no need for struggling to hear at work all day and leaving yourself with little energy for enjoyment - and that is why using a hearing aid is working smarter and not harder!
You currently are working harder than your normal hearing friends and co-workers to pay attention and be the best listener possible. So allow yourself to take a break! Make it easier on yourself by seeking out and investing in a solution to lower your listening efforts and you will be rewarded significantly. No matter if it’s hearing aids, assistive listening technology or strategies to take a break to reduce stress, the benefits can profoundly improve your life experience.