Go outside. Go to the beach. Enjoy the summertime. That’s the advice I want you to take to heart. Live your life, even when you’re reasonably sure that the next trigger is going to be around the corner. Eat messy ice-cream with family and friends. You will remember that more than the next trigger. I promise. I, like many of you, spend most of my time hiding inside. Air conditioning and nighttime are my two most common traits. But, as I do this, I can feel myself deteriorating. Humans aren’t meant to spend their entire lives indoors. Sometimes I wish I could. However, at least in small moments we should consider finding ways to be in nature. Nature is great for the sensory system and activities like sand, swimming and walking along the shores are great for the sensory system. You see where I’m going with this? Going to the beach is healthy. Not only that – going to the beach has the sound of waves. For persons that don’t live in a beach-like area, you can find a local pool, a swimming hole or a lake. For me, I know it’s hard to contemplate going to the beach even though I live on an island on the atlantic. I worry about people and sounds.
I worry too much about the other people that may be on the beach and not enough about my health spiralling from seclusion.
For you, your beach may be a walk in the park. Or a walk through the forest. It may even be a warm summer’s day walking through shops with headphones on. The important thing is that you feel calm. It is important that we do not lose ourselves entirely in this disorder. As Susan Nesbit has noted with her sensory diet activities, nature and the beach can be an amazing way to unwind. For once, I want to discuss this from a more personal note. You can find a video for summer sensory activities at the bottom but I want to discuss why the beach is so important for me.
When I spend the time to come out of my cocoon of anxiety and fear I can be greatly rewarded. Sometimes the risk does not pay off and I am met with triggers.
This has become a great setback. It’s hard to get back on the horse and try again. I spend most days of my life in my dark bedroom with the curtains drawn. Worse, I spend most of my time nocturnal. I have become a shell of a person that solely thinks about the triggers I will see. This is not healthy. This is not okay. But, it’s the reality I have been given. It takes strength and courage to find good moments. It takes every ounce of my energy to pull myself up, put on a swimsuit, and simply go to the beach. Or canoeing, or in my pool. Two of those things I have in my own backyard! But, it’s hard to get up. It’s hard to go into the world when you know that the risk and danger of triggers is ever looming.
When I get to the beach – if there are no other people – I feel a calmness. The smell of the water, the sound of the crashing waves, and the sand beneath my toes. The wonderful sensory pressure of walking around the beach cannot be met. There is no more perfect therapy than salt water as you wade against the waves. There is nothing that makes me feel more alive, more happy, and more in the moment than the ocean. Even though it takes all of my energy to get there, once I am finally on the shore I feel as though I can stay forever. The sky in its bright blueness as it hangs over the endless blue mass of ocean reminds me that we are small creatures. Our problems and our suffering is a tiny drop against the vast ocean. As I sit and watch the waves crash I feel like my life can be better managed. When I finally go into the cool water and let myself float… I feel free. I feel as though my life has a purpose and that there is a calmness that exists.
I suggest everyone find their beach. Somewhere that makes the hard moments seem less hard. A braking moment where peace outweighs all else. After swimming the tension in my body is gone. I am lighter as I walk. I know that I will be triggered again, but for now, I am calm. If we spend all our time worrying we can forget that there are good moments. We need to grasp happiness where it’s available or we may forget that there are good things in this world. I can’t think of any better advice than to go to the beach. Wherever your beach may be. After-all, tranquility is a state of mind. Even for people like us there is an option. You may have to search for it. You may have to be creative… but once you find it, it’s life-altering.
Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.