Tips for people with misophonia (also, hugs, because it sucks)

Misophonia, also known as “certain sounds send me into an irritable rage” disease, is pretty awful to have. I would know, I’ve had misophonia for as long as I can remember.

If you have misophonia, you’ll know. Almost all of us are bothered by the sounds of a jackhammer, or incessant honking, or people chewing loudly nearby, but the difference between a typical person and a victim of misophonia, is that the sound won’t just bother you - you will rage.

I’m not very prone to violent outbursts or physical violence, but certain sounds have the ability to trigger my misophonia and driving me up a fucking wall.

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It’s hard for those who suffer from this, because you can’t turn it off. There’s really no cure. It’s nice to imagine a world where everyone chews with closed lips, and dogs never bark, but it’s sadly unrealistic.

The only ‘cure’ is to soften the noises around you, and distract your brain from auditory elements.

Here are my tried and true methods to help combat misophonia.

Bose noise cancelling headphones

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Yes, they’re pricey - but yes, they’re so worth it. I walk a mile to work every day, from the East Village to Soho, and these bad boys protect me from everything. I once walked through construction with these on because I just didn’t hear what was happening.

They’re a bit bulky, and they might run you around $300, but I believe they’re worth it. Just consider them a health expense (truly, they are)!

White noise machine

I have a very active toddler who lives above me, and most nights (and wee hours of certain mornings) I can hear him stomping and running from room to room, and dropping his heavy toys with abandon. It’s been the source of a number of apartment emails and a few in-person shouting matches with my neighbor, but I digress…

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So I bought a white noise machine to help me sleep. I used to just use it at night, but recently started turning it on during the day as well. It’s like a spa for your ears. I feel like I’ve taken a half Xanax every time it’s on. Plus, you can now get them on Amazon for nearly $10 (and some for hundreds of dollars…the spectrum is pretty large).

Hint: Some iPhone apps serve as white noise machines as well. The app Calm is very expensive, but they have a free trial if you ever want to try indulging in White Noise before you purchase a machine yourself.

Activate your other senses

I don’t know if this has ever been studied or verified, but I fully believe that engaging your other 4 senses can help to combat loud noises. Try carrying some Spearmint gum with you, or some scented hand lotion, and the next time a loud noise is grinding your (g)ears, use these.

If the sound is continuous, this might not work fully, but if you just want to calm down while a dog barks for a minute or so, this is the perfect solution.

Also, if you do chew gum…keep your mouth closed. Don’t perpetuate the loop of horrible sounds! Break the wheel!

Listen to ASMR

It’s a touchy subject for me right now, because I adore ASMR, and it’s currently getting a very bad reputation. ASMR is a gift for sensitive ears, but right now the internet is describing ASMR to be “ear porn” or, strangely enough, spreading the misconception that ASMR is mouth sounds and sounds of people eating directed at high quality microphones.

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Those are types of ASMR, but far from what ASMR actually is (which I talk about more in this blog post)

There are types of ASMR that focus on gentle whispering, satisfying scratching sounds of surfaces, cutting kinetic sand, and other soothing noises like that. I suggest giving these YouTubers a listen for misophonia-friendly ASMR sounds

Whenever sounds are bothering me, strapping on my Bose headphones and listening to some ASMR is a surefire way to calm down.

Also, let me know your opinions on ASMR. People with misophonia either love it or hate it - so I’m curious to hear what you think!

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Use some earplugs

I resisted against this advice for years, certain that I would look like a nursing home veteran in daily public life, but that was before I realized there are inconspicuous earplugs. And they are a life saver.

Pick up a pair of these earplugs on Amazon with the skin colored option, and I guarantee that no one will notice that you have them in. (Also, having long hair helps to hide them…)

Leave

I have sat through so many meals, situations and experiences that activated my misophonia. The number is countless. I have sat in a quiet rage, dug my fingernails into my legs, and plotted literally murdering people before because of this.

Also for any local authorities reading this blog, I was joking for dramatic effect.

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I realized a fact about myself a couple of years ago - I fucking love to leave things. My friends joke that I’m infamous for the Irish Goodbye at nearly every event I attend. If a sound is bothering you, and you can leave - do it. It’s not worth it to sit and stew in a quiet anger - seriously, health-wise I think it’s pretty detrimental. So if you can, just leave. And go somewhere quiet. With your headphones on.

Hypnosis…or so I’ve heard

This one I’m just passing along because I’ve heard that it’s a method via internet forums and such. I can’t say that personally I’ve tried this, or it’s helped - but if you’re really desperate and looking for a solution to your misophonia, some people out there online swear by this method.

Exercise and manage your stress levels

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My misophonia is usually worse in the winter, and guess what, I’m usually not working out in the winter. It’s also worse around holidays, and other stressful periods in my life, and it took a couple of years (and some research to validate this) but it turns out that that’s because stress and misophonia are linked.

The higher your stress levels, the more likely you are to be agitated, and agitated at a much deeper level than usual. Try to combat this by exercising a few days a week, and see if after a month of this you’re more relaxed and sound-safe than before.

Have you eaten?

Something else that I’ve found through trial-and-error was the correlation between my hunger, and my ability to put up with stress-inducing noise. I really don’t get bothered when people are eating dessert loudly. But I can’t stand when people are munching on appetizers or slurping their drinks before the food comes.

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Turns out, there’s a reason for that. Your hunger levels work in a similar way as your stress levels (see above). If you’re about to head out into a noisy, tourist filled and construction scattered area, have a quick snack before you leave. You might find that the walk is easier after that.

Smoke some weed

Again, for the local policeman who came upon this blog post, I’m joking hahaha. This is a humorous blog. It’s all just a funny joke!

But seriously, smoke some pot. This will help you in a big way. I can’t explain it, it just really takes the edge off of all situations - and that includes the auditory aspects of it. If you can swing it, carry a pen with you (Indica strains are best) and just take a puff or two when anything ear-flammatory comes up.

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Don’t look at the trigger

If you can’t leave a situation, get high, or strap on headphones - try to minimize the offense by not looking at it. I don’t think it really makes the situation better, but I know that looking at the sound-creation will make it worse. So if you can, look anywhere else at all - or close your eyes and imagine a nice, relaxing quiet place - it will 100% be better to do that than look at the face of…that sound.


Are there any tips you use that help to combat misophonia? If so, let me know! Since misophonia can’t be cured (that we know of yet…) all we can do is share tips on how to help lessen it.

And if you suffer from misophonia yourself, leave a comment below! Another thing that can help dealing with this is the camaraderie of knowing that other people are dealing with this as well.

Super quietly and nicely,
S