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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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