Do you have a reduced tolerance to certain sounds, otherwise known as misophonia? Hopefully our blog on common misconceptions about misophonia or our list of podcasts on the disorder shed some light on the subject for you. Misophonia causes a real response, but that doesn’t mean it has to hold you back in life.
In this blog we’re going to get into how to manage misophonia in the workplace so that you can reach for your dreams in peace:
1. Anticipate your noise sensitivity & possible anxiety
As you may already be aware, there is a link between misophonia, sound sensitivity, and anxiety. Everyone reacts differently to misophonia and its triggers. If you have a mild reaction to certain triggers you might experience misophonia symptoms such as:
- Feeling uncomfortable
- The urge to flee
It’s also possible to have a more severe reaction at times, creating stronger responses such as:
- Emotional distress
In any case, misophonia is no laughing matter. Those with the misophonia have been known to develop anticipatory anxiety when going into situations where trigger sounds may be present.
As someone who suffers from misophonia, it is important to know where your limits lie and to anticipate situations that might trigger a response.
However, with a little cooperation from your colleagues and higher-ups, it is possible to account for your misophonia while exploring your full potential at work.
2. Explain misophonia disorder & your triggers
The next step to managing your misophonia in the workplace is to inform your colleagues. Only when people at work know about your sound sensitivity, can they take it into account. So let’s start there: time to tell your co-workers about misophonia. There are many misunderstandings about disorders like misophonia (and others, like autism). People might ask questions like “is misophonia a mental illness?” so be prepared to debunk some myths.
It is important that you communicate that misophonia is a recognized disorder that reduces your tolerance to certain sounds, often triggering intense emotional or physiological responses. If you’re going to define misophonia, you can also mention that it is often linked to high intelligence. Something in your favor! Next, explain your misophonia triggers. This could range from the sound of marker on a whiteboard, to chewing noises at lunch. Don’t hold back: be up-front about what sets you off. Also think about your ideal misophonia “treatment”: feel free to come up with suggestions yourself, including some of the approaches below.
3. Combat misophonia with auditory measures like earplugs
One of the most effective ways to deal with misophonia at work is to reduce stimuli in your work area. This can mean using space enclosures or sound absorption panels to block noise, or using a private office.
Or perhaps your employer will let you use white noise or environmental sound machines to help you focus. You can also ask to listen to soothing music like a white noise playlist, or use a noise canceling headset.
If you don’t want to seem unapproachable to your colleagues, Loop Experience Pro Earplugs will be a more subtle way to filter out noise without blocking it out completely or creating distance.
If it all gets too much, a modified break schedule could also do the trick. Rather than battling your misophonia, walk away from triggering noises and seek out a quiet place. Allowing yourself to take a break and going to a place where you can use relaxation techniques or contact a support person can make a real difference.
4. Work with your colleagues to come up with strategies
If your work environment really is overwhelming your noise sensitivity and causing anxiety, it may be necessary to take additional measures or limit your time in the office.
One silver lining of the pandemic has been less restriction around remote working, so use this to your advantage. You could ask to work from home part-time, or to employ flexible scheduling so that you can respond to the fluctuations in your sensory overload.
If meetings or sharing office space with colleagues are posing problems, you may want to approach individual colleagues who are making noises that trigger you. If you go to them privately and stay calm and diplomatic, chances are it is simply a question of awareness and they will be happy to adapt.
Explain what causes misophonia and which noises you react to specifically, if you think there is a reasonable chance that the conversation will be productive.
Of course you don’t only want to avoid triggering your misophonia, you also want to interact with your team. Loop Earplugs could be the answer, since they allow you to turn down the noise without isolating yourself. If you know yourself and your limits, you should be able to find ways to manage your misophonia at work. Not only will you be happier, you’ll also be more productive!
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