Covid-19. News about this is literally everywhere and how it affects people’s lives. What I haven’t seen is how those with misophonia cope during the quarantine during these uncertain times. Some may be trapped with family who trigger them. Whether or not they understand doesn’t matter, because you’re still triggered, and maybe now it’s full time. Maybe the sound of the lawn mower is triggering you, or the footsteps of the upstairs apartment dweller, or the constant barking dog from the neighbors. If you experience these and don’t know what to do because you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.
The stay at home mandate for my town went into affect about the second week of March, 2020. All my plans, in the now and for the foreseeable future, were put on hold. Non-essential businesses closed. Parks were closed. Grocery stores remained open. Popular ones were packed as people began to hoard things. Some stores upped the prices on cleaning supplies. Masks and gloves are a regular sight. Social distancing and reducing travel were required. You know all of this, and I’m sure it’s increased many people’s anxiety and depression.
If you’re stuck at home right now and are experiencing more trigger sounds than usual, I encourage you to take advantage of daily walks. Charge your phone, put your earbuds in, and just take a walk around town. Parks have reopened in my town with specific guidelines to follow, so check to see if any parks in your area have done the same. And of course, practice social distancing. If wearing a mask doesn’t make it difficult to breathe, wear one on your walk. Walking will a) allow you some exercise, b) get you away from whatever triggers are happening, and c) calm you down. Only do this if your area allows it.
Another tip is to find a safe space in your home and just retreat there for a little while. Put on a movie or TV show, or your favorite song through your headphones, and just breathe. Your safe space is where no one can interrupt you while taking some time to relax and calm down. Make this clear to those you live with if you have to.
Relieve some stress by taking on a new hobby or learning a new skill. This has been one of the many recommendations I keep seeing while stuck at home. Even if you don’t actually take on something right away, learn the basics of something that interests you. In my case, even before quarantine, I took up knitting. I made some special gifts for people and have one other knitting project to complete. I watched a lot of videos and read a lot of stuff regarding knitting, different techniques, and the right tools to use. This can occupy your mind with something other than whatever is triggering you, and help with coming down from feeling intense rage. If videos trigger you, don’t watch with the volume. Most YouTube videos have auto generated subtitles that are usually 90% accurate. At least, in my experience. Same with movies. Netflix has the subtitle option, as well as Amazon Prime Video.
Speaking of learning new things, for awhile, Shaw Academy has been promoting free content for people. You can take courses there that you normally have to pay for. I’m not sure how long it’s going to go on for, but it’s worth checking out.
If you are getting triggered at night by nature sounds–or people doing things outside or in the upstairs apartment–and trying to fall asleep, try wearing earplugs. They drown out a lot of sound and may aid in helping you sleep. You can also consider sleeping headphones, which is essentially earphones made to wear to bed while you play something that helps you fall asleep.
I hope some of these were helpful. Leave a comment if you have something that helps you!Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.