Many people across the country are beginning to return to work as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease. Increasing your daily interactions can be very draining, especially if you have hearing loss. Hearing loss is associated with a condition known as listening fatigue, which can make you feel worn out after socializing.
Cognitive Load and Listening Fatigue
Cognitive load refers to the effort your put forth to make sense of the bits and pieces of auditory input you receive. When you can’t hear well, you miss certain sounds and words, and your brain has to work extra hard to pick up the slack. This leaves little energy to store and process the information you’ve heard, ultimately leading to stress, anxiety and listening fatigue. In addition, stress and anxiety can make your muscles tense, which can make you feel physically tired by the end of the day.
How to Reduce Cognitive Load
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help reduce your cognitive load. Try the following strategies:
Take a Break
If you feel fatigued – especially after a conference meeting or other setting with lots of speakers – it’s important to give yourself a break. Go on a walk, turn on some noise cancelling headphones or take a short nap to give your brain time to rest and to relieve stress that may be causing tension.
Meditation can help you relax and take your mind off of stressors. To meditate, simply sit or lie down somewhere quiet. Focus on your breath, breathing in and out to a count of five. If you experience distracting thoughts or discomfort, acknowledge it and let it go. Try to meditate for three to five minutes at first. Guided meditation videos are available online.
Record and Transcribe Information
Instead of straining to keep up during an important event like employee training or a doctor’s appointment, you can create a backup. Use your phone to record the audio of the meeting that you can revisit later. You can also download a transcription app (www.speechtexter.com) so you can re-read the transcript when you need to recall the information. This helps relieve stress caused by trying to keep up and not miss a single word.
For more information about reducing cognitive load or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, call the Hearing & Balance Center at Charleston ENT today.