I thought I’d make a list of typical coping mechanisms for people to put into practice. It’s very likely that you’ve heard of these before, but bear with me. I’m going to describe what works for me and what doesn’t. Not all of these will work for everyone, and that’s ok. I hope at least one of them works for you.
- Wearing earphones: These are a lifesaver. They’ll get you through some really bad misophonia situations. With the earphones, you can play music, download a white noise/rain app, play an audiobook, or listen to podcasts to drown out the triggering noises. Or, you can just put them in and not play anything.
- What works for me: I wear over the ear headphones more that I wear in-ear earphones. Over the ear blocks out more noise. But there are in-ear headphones that can reduce the noise around you a significant amount. I have a pair, but they don’t do the job well enough; for me at least. If you want to listen to someone, perhaps in-ear earphones would be best. It’s harder to hear someone with over the ear headphones.
- Background noise: If your family requires mealtime with everyone, request background noise during the meal. This could just be the TV or the radio. Your family should accommodate you as best they can to make you more comfortable.
- What works for me: There isn’t a specific time when my family sits down and eats together on a regular basis. Special occasions are an exception. For me, background noise would only be okay if the TV or music is at a very low volume. Or, no background noise at all.
- Stress management: What I mean by this is try to reduce stress in other areas of your life. Having a lot of stress can affect your misophonia terribly. What normally wouldn’t trigger you too badly would trigger you ten times more because you’re so stressed out.
- What has worked for me: I have cut from my life several friends who were nothing but stress inducers and drama starters. Doing that has helped me immensely. I understand that it’s hard to cut people from your life, especially if there are people in your own family that stress you out. So instead of cutting people out, perhaps focusing your attention on things you like to do would ease your stress. I have focused my attention on writing and being healthy. This has really helped me, and I notice that I’m better able to handle my triggers.
- Escape: Always have an escape plan. You don’t have to force yourself to endure your triggers, because that just makes it worse. If you’re eating with your family and you have to ask to go to the bathroom for a second, do so. Or if you’re at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to go to the bathroom there, or go out to get some air. Escaping does not mean failure; it means taking care of yourself.
- What works for me: I’m usually prepared to sit with others for a long period of time, but do plan out an escape. I usually go to the restroom or put my headphones on.
- Earplugs: Earplugs can really help in reducing the volume of triggers. The foam ones work great if you want a cheap route to go. If you’re in a situation where you don’t want to wear earphones/headphones, earplugs are a more subtle option.
- What works for me: I started wearing earplugs when I was about 15. I’m 21 now! They’ve really gotten me through the times when I’m triggered the most. Unfortunately, I got into the habit of wearing them 24/7, and that’s not recommended. I’m slowly starting to break that habit thanks to my boyfriend. When he’s around, I’m a lot more comfortable, and rarely need my earplugs.
- Deep breathing: Practicing this really helps. It can slow your heartbeat and calm you down slightly, especially when you’re surrounded by triggering noises. Depending on the person, doing this can help you stay with the people you’re with until you leave. For some, it may just prevent you from saying something you’ll regret, and you’ll still need to excuse yourself. You can also practice deep breathing when you’re alone so that you can more effectively calm yourself with no triggers.
- What works for me: When I’m in a situation in which I’m being badly triggered, I do a number of things, and sometimes I do some deep breathing. Especially when I’m in class, where there’s lots of whispering during a lecture, or people snacking, or people slamming their Styrofoam cups on their desks. This really helps calm me down, and I try to focus on the professor giving the lecture.
That’s all I have for now in terms of coping. Feel free to leave a comment saying what you do to cope. I hope you all have been having a great week, and if not, I hope it gets better. Take some time for yourself. Recharge, and then get back out there.
See you next week!