The Benefits of Activity and the Outdoors for Managing Misophonia

Misophonia is a rare condition that causes patients to have a severe and involuntary reaction to specific sounds. The cause of the condition is still unknown.

A challenge misophonia patients face every day is learning how to calm the reactivity of the nervous system. Many patients face anticipatory anxiety when they know that they are likely to be faced with a trigger. Various strategies have been adopted to help combat this anxiety. Many of these involve physical movement.

Battling Anxiety

In terms of anticipatory anxiety, many patients discuss planning ahead as a huge benefit. They will engage in a calming activity before the triggering event to help ease their nerves. This is extremely important for patients, because when anticipatory anxiety is not treated, the nervous system remains elevated.

If a misophonia patient is faced with a trigger when they are already going through anticipatory anxiety, the trigger causes them to go from a 50 to a 90 instead of a 0 to a 60 anxiety level. If the patient is starting from a lower level, they will stay at a lower level.

The following activities are often used by patients to soothe anxiety:

  • Warm bath
  • Calm music
  • Taking a walk
  • Breathing exercises
  • Rocking in a chair

These activities block the effects of overwhelming amounts of stimuli (either visual or auditory). They utilize the bodies senses to ultimately change the individuals neurophysiologic state.

Movement, however, can have many more beneficial effects for misophonia patients than most people realize. Instead of simply lowering general arousal and making the individual more calm, it can actually have a positive benefit on misophonia at the moment it’s completed.

The Power of Movement

Misophonia reactivity is decreased significantly with activity such as walking, running, dancing, or skateboarding. This is because when we move, our unconscious attention is absorbed by other things. We don’t focus on sounds when other things have our attention. That means that the more complex our movement is, the more attention it requires, and the less misophonia reactivity will occur.

This phenomena occurs unconsciously, but it can have immense benefits for patients. It can improve their overall functioning and quality of life day to day.

The Power of the Outdoors

Another thing that can hugely benefit those faced with misophonia is getting outside. This is because the acoustics are much more favorable in the open air. Instead of sound bouncing off of walls and back towards the person, it travels further away from the individual. 

For these reasons, misophonia patients are highly encouraged to use calming activities preemptively, stay active, and get outside.

You can read more about these suggestions here.

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