Did you know that planning your day or prioritizing certain activities can help to manage listening effort this holiday season? Here are some tips to making sure you can be a part of the conversations and moments that you care about the most!
Tips from an expert to manage listening effort during the holidays
“As a cochlear implant recipient, you may find you are extremely tired by the end of the day. Interestingly, recipients often fail to connect their fatigue with listening and the increased effort needed to ensure listening success,” says Dr. Sarah Hughes PhD1, a speech-language pathologist and expert in listening effort.
Dr. Hughes is referring to listening effort, a term used to describe the exertion of brain power used to pay attention and understand spoken language.
“As a recipient, it’s important to appreciate that listening effort is a part of what it means to listen with a hearing loss,” she says.
“Hearing is something that happens without us being aware of it taking place. Listening, however, is active. It is something we ‘do.’ When listening conditions are favorable this happens easily, and we are not aware of needing to put work into listening.”
However, when conditions are challenging, such as listening with a hearing loss, a listener is required to do the additional mental work to enable them to understand speech, music or identify sounds in the environment.
“If you expect to listen in the same way as hearing family and friends, then you may be putting a lot of added pressure onto yourself,” says Dr. Hughes.
“The extra pressure is stressful and can actually be counter-productive. You may be able to listen well for short periods, but over longer periods you can become exhausted and this can quickly lead to fatigue.
The good news is that recipients tell us when they make the effort to listen with their cochlear implant that they feel a greater sense of social connectedness – the feeling of being in close, personal contact with the world around them.”
Cochlear CoPilot helps with strategies for the holidays
There are a number of strategies that can help you manage your energy levels for listening. Our mobile app, Cochlear™ CoPilot, is designed to help and features information and insights from experts plus advice from other recipients.
Here are some tips from Cochlear CoPilot to get started:
- Recognize that listening with hearing loss requires effort.
- Schedule breaks in advance for times when you know that listening will be intensive or challenging.
- Allow yourself downtime to give your brain a listening break. Spend some time doing activities that don’t require you to listen very much – read, exercise, or meditate.
- Plan your day so that challenging tasks and activities are scheduled when you have the energy.
- Remember that good nutrition and adequate sleep play an important role in managing your energy.
- Take a short break when you find yourself straining to listen. This could happen at work, during meetings, social events or even when you are simply tired.
- Step away and tune out to reduce stimulation and help to de-stress and refresh.
- Prioritize activities that are most important to you during the holiday season such as family get togethers or social events. This will help ensure that you have enough energy for those listening-based activities that are special.
“While it might not always be possible to fully schedule your day around listening, having an awareness that listening effort can impact your energy level means you will be more likely to take a break from listening when you can, thus enabling you to be at your best when listening really matters,” says Dr. Hughes.
- Sarah E. Hughes B.Sc., M.H.Sc., Ph.D., Research Fellow, Centre for Patient Reported Outcome Research. University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Dr. Hughes is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Patient Reported Outcome Research (CPROR) at the Institute of Applied Health, University of Birmingham in the UK. She received her M.H.Sc in speech-language pathology from the University of Toronto, Canada, and her PhD at Swansea University Medical School, Wales, UK where she was a James Callaghan Scholar whose research focused on the development and validation of a new patient-reported outcome measure of listening effort in adult cochlear implant recipients. Dr. Hughes has worked on several collaborations with the Australian Hearing Hub and the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and she is a Core Member of the Adult Rehabilitation Special Interest Group, British Society of Audiology.