I learned a lot this semester at SDSU in terms of reducing the stress in my life. It’s part of the reason I’ve been MIA on Misophonia International, and on my personal blog Misophonia Weekly. I took a comprehensive stress management course and, I learned a great deal about stress, different kinds of stress, and different ways to cope with it. One of the ways I took to heart was saying goodbye.
For a while, I was volunteering at an organization that helps abused or neglected children and/or foster kids, and their parents/guardians to receive the help and care they need. I was introduced to it by a good friend of mine. She said it would be a great opportunity for me since helping victims was one of my interests when I graduate with my Bachelor’s. It’s a great organization. The supervisors, coordinators, and other volunteers were helpful, and I made at least one lifelong friend. However, I soon realized that the work it required became way too much.
Volunteering there is a huge commitment. It’s not something you half-ass. If you do, you risk harming the children you’re working with instead of helping them. Doing that while going to school became overwhelming. I was always anxious about something related to the organization and didn’t focus on my school work. Or, I was worried about my school work and forgot about the work I had to do for the organization. I was getting triggered more often, was generally moody about things I’m not normally moody about, becoming overly emotional about small issues, and lost sleep almost every night. I then realized that my last semester at SDSU would require an internship. That was the ultimate deal breaker for me. I formally resigned only five months in.
I didn’t tell my parents; I only told my boyfriend. I’m afraid they—my family—will think I’m a quitter. One of my relatives always pushes me to do things, and it’s overwhelming and stressful. I decided to do what was best for me. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Now, I only needed to worry about school. I was in a better mood and wasn’t as triggered as I was. My sleep only improved slightly, but slightly is better than no sleep at all. Because I really like the organization, I am considering volunteering again in the future, when I’ve graduated and moved out. But learning to say goodbye to one thing and devote all your focus on another will not only reduce your stress, but also your performance and quality of work. For me, it’s difficult to multitask or focus on a million things at once. I’m also overwhelmed easily, and if there’s too much to do, I just don’t do it. Devoting all your focus to one thing (like school work) is better than dividing your focus to multiple things.
I mentioned earlier that I learned a lot about stress and how to deal with it. Because misophonia causes stress, I feel like mentioning some of the things I learned about reducing stress will also help relieve misophonia, at least little bit. That is my hope. I mainly do the following at night because that’s usually the time I start feeling anxious: about misophonia or other things.
Side note: These are merely suggestions, and I don’t advocate these as cures. They just help calm me down and do not get rid of triggers. There is fundraising for ongoing research for an actual cure that you can donate to right here on Misophonia International.
Meditation: Merriam’s dictionary defines meditation as engaging “in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness”. I’ve done this countless times, especially at night and after a particularly triggering situation. I find myself slowly calming down and feeling more at ease. Meditation requires quieting the mind, which is extremely difficult, because the mind has a mind of its own. At night, I lay down and meditate, usually reciting a positive mantra, and find myself waking up in the morning. During the day, I go to my room (or if I’m not home, find a quiet place) and focus on my breathing. No distractions. After 20 minutes, I feel calmer and notice I’m less triggered during the rest of the day.
Yoga: Yoga not only relaxes the mind, but also the body. For me, misophonia causes me to become very tense. Doing some yoga to relieve some of that tension is the absolute best. It helps me sleep, and I experience less physical pain the next day.
Autogenic training: “…autogenics training teaches you to self-produce a feeling of warmth and heaviness throughout your body, thereby experiencing a profound state of physical relaxation, bodily health, and mental peace” (http://www.guidetopsychology.com/autogen.htm). I’m still working on this one. It’s difficult to master, but from what I learned from my stress management class, it can help in multiple areas of my life: becoming less anxious, less sensitive, overcome bad habits, and become a calmer person. I tried it one night while I was having trouble falling asleep. My feet were cold, and my mind was wandering; meditation was hard to do that night. I tried sending a warm feeling to my feet, starting with my head, down my arms, down my stomach, down my legs, and eventually to my feet. It worked after several tries, and I found myself waking to sunlight in my room. I have a long way to go for this one, but I am hoping it works out.