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Annoyed By The Sound of People Chewing? You Might Have Misophonia

Annoyed By The Sound of People Chewing? You Might Have Misophonia

When considering what it is that makes an individual’s blood boil and why it is they might erupt into a fit of rage occasionally, like Howard Beale in the classic satire film Network (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”), there is one rage catalyst most people will fail to associate as a rational reason to behave entirely irrational.

Misophonia.

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This term literally means “hatred of sound”. The clinical diagnosis deals more specifically with a hatred of naturally occurring human sounds. Experiencing rage due to being cut off in traffic is one thing I think we can all empathize with, but people diagnosed with misophonia are lit into fiery rages from the most subtle of human sounds such as people masticating food, chewing gum, or even simply breathing.

These triggers do not require extreme cases like obnoxiously chomping on food with an open mouth, aggressively smacking on gum, or breathing heavily. Everyday sounds like these, which most people do not even notice, are what send those enduring misophonia into an anxiety-ridden fit of rage. It is worth noting, someone with this diagnosis is generally not bothered by their own human sounds and nor do the sounds of animals eating, licking, or breathing disturb them.

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Symptoms of Misophonia

Symptoms include extreme distress, anger, and anxiety leading to a “fight or flight” scenario, in which someone experiencing misophonia will likely have to leave certain settings or face the threat of erupting into a spontaneous rage among friends or strangers, whom would not understand the sudden volatile reaction they would receive for simply biting into a carrot or crunching a potato chip. There is little middle ground, or coping,  when these encounters happen. Here are some testimonials of individuals experiencing misophonia:

  • A married couple who eats their meals in separate rooms of the house they share because the wife cannot bear the sound of her husband eating.
  • Another married couple with a husband who attests that if he and his wife pick up fast food and eat in their car then he has to turn the radio up until all of his wife’s chewing sounds are completely drowned out, leaving them unable to even converse between bites.
  • One account describes a college student suffering from misophonia who briefly details one of her experiences of attending class by explaining, “Immediately after hearing one of my triggers, I become enraged. I become very hot, tingly, and anxious.”
  • Another college student claims assorted mouth noises, sniffling, and gum chewing make her chest tighten and her heart pound. She claims, “This condition has caused me to lose friends and has caused numerous fights.”

A Controversial Condition

Misophonia became an official psychiatric disorder recently when an Amsterdam based research team arrived at the diagnostic classification. It is a controversial condition, little is understood about it, and there is no known cure for it. However, many researchers concur misophonia is linked to other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression.

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Research has concluded that misophonia generally surfaces during adolescence and continues throughout adulthood. While there is no known cure, those experiencing the condition will often wear earplugs, headphones, or make use of anything that will create noise to overcome the subtle sounds that make their blood boil.

Misophonia is most commonly associated with human chewing but also includes severe aggravation towards other actions like whistling, humming, footsteps, tapping objects rhythmically, coughing, sniffling, and throat clearing.

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So, the next time you are in the break room at work eating lunch with coworkers and you find yourself clenching your fists with white knuckles, face reddening, and giving a threatening glare to the person across from you, please try to remain calm, put down the fork, and try to catch your breath. You might have misophonia and no humanly generated sound is too quiet for its quirky, irate sensibilities.

Featured photo credit: Neil Guegan/cultura/Corbis via nymag.com

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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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