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Easily Annoyed By The Sound Of People Chewing? You Probably Have Misophonia

Easily Annoyed By The Sound Of People Chewing? You Probably Have Misophonia

Smack-smack-smack-crunch-slop. The person across the table from you is doing it again. It’s been like this for three straight days. The headphones you brought aren’t going to cut it.

Why is the sound of the person at the table chewing away on her lunch disturbing you to your core? According to research done in 2013, it’s because you might have misophonia.

What’s That Again?

Misophonia is defined as a hatred of sound. However, having misophonia is more nuanced than that. People with misophonia don’t hate all sounds. The sounds that provoke episodes of anxiety, social isolation, and depression are usually those that are repetitive and easily ignored by the majority of the population.

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It is reportedly common among those suffering from tinnitus. Those afflicted with tinnitus account for roughly five to 10 percent of the adult population in the United States. There is debate whether misophonia is its own psychological disorder, or an aspect of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Regardless of its place in psychology, experts agree that misophonia, OCD, and anxiety disorders have close relationships.

Because of a decreased tolerance for sound, people who are likely sufferers of misophonia will avoid social situations that might involve even the possibility of repetitive noises like people chewing or pens clicking. Even the tapping of a hand can be enough to trigger misophonia. Social avoidance to this degree can lead to depression because of the isolation it causes.

One sufferer reported no longer being able to eat meals with her own husband. “The reaction is irrational,” she stated in a N. Y. Times article. Another sufferer reported fixating on the noises which sparked the aggression or irrationality, which led to near insomnia.

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Research has shown that misophonia and the tolerance of noises such as sniffing, chewing, or pen clicking may exist along a spectrum, like the Autism Spectrum. Some people are simply annoyed by the sounds; others are so angered they are pushed to fits of rage or into states of anxiety.

Nowhere may this spectrum of misophonia be more prevalent than the workplace, for both triggers and those who are sensitive to them. There’s the foot tapping, the pen clicking, even the clacking of long fingernails on a keyboard. However, in a workplace, there are very few outlets for the therapies and behaviors associated with dealing with misophonia.

What To Do About It

Misophonia and its associated anxieties can be especially hindering when in the workplace. You can’t just raise your hand and ask your boss to move you away from that musical colleague with the twitchy fingers. Even if you do ask to be moved, your misophonia will likely lead you to be afraid of the change. You may worry that the person you sit next to this time will be just as twitchy. You can’t just yell, “stop it!” at your neighbor, though some people with misophonia have been known to deal with their triggers by doing so.

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Unless you work for a place that actively supports mental well-being, you might have to suffer alone. It’s a relatively new disorder, and isn’t currently part of the DSM-5 or other diagnostic manuals. However, there are therapies available that help alleviate some of the anxiety of coping with misophonia. The most common are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Neurofeedback, and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. Trying a combination of these or other therapies will be more effective than picking just one.

One CBT used mimics the noise prompting the misophonia. Another is to actively engage in something else during the situation that causes the anxiety. If mealtime is when your misophonia typically presents itself, make sure you are conversing with people at the table and not simply eating. Having or creating distractions of your own will help you focus on something other than what is compelling you to throw your dinner roll across the table at the “offender.”

There’s An Upside?

If you take Misophonia.com’s test and find you may indeed have the disorder (or you just can’t stand it when you hear the ticking of the clock in the next room), don’t despair. There are upsides. For example, you may be as intelligent as Charles Darwin and Marcel Proust.

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Northwestern University conducted a study on sensory gating, and found that the leakier their sensory gate, they more creative they were. Those who were unable to filter out all the inconsequential noise were more likely to have higher creative intelligence.

Whether you’ve self-diagnosed or you’ve been to a mental health counselor to discuss the reasons for your depression and social isolation and have narrowed them down to a leaky sensory gate, having misophonia doesn’t have to be debilitating.

Just remember that Chekhov probably had misophonia, too.

Featured photo credit: 115H/Gratisography via gratisography.com

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H. E. James

Writer and researcher

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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