How do I know if it's OCD?
I asked you to tell me the most common thought you have regarding your OCD and here is the resounding answer. "How do I know if my thoughts or feelings are OCD or if they are really me.?" If it really is me, it means I'm a scary, dangerous, dirty, and bad person. But if it's my OCD, then I get a pass. So why can't you tell if it's really your OCD or if it's really you? In this video you're going to learn why it's so difficult to see the difference, if it even matters, and you how to respond the next time you question it. No time to waste! Let's get to it! I'm going to give you the quick answer, but that doesn't mean you'll leave the video right...right...right! I need you to stay to the end.
Here's the sitch, You cannot tell if it is you or your OCD because of the emotion and attention you are bringing it. Because you have OCD, the connections in your brain are attaching a big emotion such as anxiety to an intrusive thought. An intrusive thought that is likely to be had by most people. It's okay for our brain to throughout intrusive thoughts. Doesn't matter what it's related to. This anxiety felt make everything feel dangerous and important. It activates this fight or flight response.
When we're in this mode, the brain and body go into problem solving. You have to know if what you're experiencing is true or not. You have to know if you're really in danger. Protect, protect, protect! So in simple terms, the reason you question if it's really you or your OCD is because you don't want it to be you. Because it goes against your value system and who you are as a person if these thoughts WERE you. But, that's the nature of OCD, going toward your values, making something feel extremely real, putting lots of power to it and then it stands back to see how you're going to respond to it. Before we give that response to the OCD,
We're going to keep it waiting, because it hates it. Hey bro! You're not sure if this thought is you or OCD, so on the safe side, do the compulsion. Does this sound familiar? Most will feel guilt or shame because they feel like they need to....just in case that thought wasn't really OCD. So we know it's tough to decipher and let me give you the golden answer of how you can know if it's OCD or not..... "Shifty eyes" ...... That's not your job. Ahhh, I see you ready to click off the video. Seriously, hear this.
The more you attempt to discover if it's OCD or not the more you stay stuck. And I hear you on the other side of that screen. "BUT, I NEED TO KNOW IF I'M A BAD PERSON OR NOT OR IF I WOULD REALLY DO THAT THING OR NOT." FALSE! You don't, your OCD would like to know that answer only to make you doubt again.
So here is a response instead.... Ew..."did you just have that thought about that person? I can't believe you did that?" My answer... Thanks for the thought, bro. Yea, but that's really you and not your OCD, this is important. "Okay, thanks for the feedback, riveting stuff." You need to feel guilt. Shame on you. "I'm loving all those feelings." We don't reason with it. We don't use logic. We don't figure it out. We live our lives!
Your job isn't to figure this all out. It's to NOT do any compulsion because what we learn is that the obsessions don't matter. They really don't. It's all white noise. The way you are responding to this question, "is this me or my OCD?" will determine the trajectory of your triggers, anxiety, shame, doubts and guilt. Some make commitments, "I choose to not figure out what is real and what is my OCD?"
That's not my job. My job is to live life right now in this moment. I will not do any compulsion. This does not mean that for the rest of your life you're suffering. It actually means, you're brining more rays of hope that bring you closer to recovery. These compulsions are tough to break, so please go watch this video where I give some simple tricks to help you stop these compulsions. Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time!
OCD or me
False attraction OCD
Ahhhh, you're attracted to someone other than your significant other. Attracted to someone of your same gender. Someone older than you, someone younger. Someone close to you. Someone or something you feel like you shouldn't be attracted to. What the heck are you supposed to do about this? It's making you anxious mixed with a lot of doubt. Is it OCD or is it really you?
By the end of this video (and I know you'll stay to the end) you will learn why you may have false attraction and what to do about it. However, this video is not meant to be used for reassurance.
For most who struggle with OCD, false attraction seems to rear its ugly head. I use the word FALSE attraction, but most don't actually recognize the "false" part.... They will continually wonder, check, ask questions, research online and problem solve until they are blue in the face and STILL at the end of it all, not be sure if it was REALLY them that is attracted or if it was their OCD.
Here is what's happening. OCD by nature not only makes someone doubt their thoughts, but our emotions and physical sensations too. So a natural thought of, oh wow, that girl's cute can send someone through a spiral. They get shocked by the thought. I'm married, I can't have these thoughts. Great...what does it mean? It must mean I don't love my spouse. Maybe I don't think they are pretty enough. I'm thinking about it so much now and avoiding looking at that person again, that I'm starting to notice physical sensations. I'm not sure if I'm aroused. GREAT! If I'm aroused, it now verifies my attraction to them. My anxiety is also verifying to me that this is true.
So what's happening here is all the value I'm putting on a simple thought. What if I just saw someone and had a thought of "they're cute" and moved forward. Nothing has to mean anything, unless we put meaning to it. Without it being reassurance, people simply are feeling attraction or "false" attraction due to the meaning we've put behind it.
With OCD, it automatically wants to throw this meaning in and simply wants you to problem solve. But you're not going to do that anymore. Do you know what you're going to do?
Not figure it out anymore. Dun, dun, duuuuunnn! That's right! Nothing. Nada. Ziltch. See that person and think they're cute. Get aroused. Allow the thoughts. BUT, when it happens, you no longer are going to figure it out and this is what you can say...."Yep" That's a thought. "Coolio" I'm feeling all the feelings" "maybe I'm super attracted, maybe not." You are not problem solving this. Our job is to continue to move forward regardless of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges, etc.
When you finally surrender to not finding the answer, your brain stops putting value to it and as I mentioned, it does not matter what you feel "attracted" to. OCD is OCD. White noise throwing out anything to see if you'll connect.
Do you ever wonder if you're really attracted to anyone or anything, mixed with strong anxiety emotions? Live your life! That's your job. Not figure any of this out. This may mean, getting rid of the compulsions. Those things you're doing to avoid the perceived threat.
To gain the upper hand, go over and watch my video about what to do when your OCD tells you that you LIKE these thoughts.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
Do I have false attraction?
False Attraction ROCD
What is agoraphobia?
Leaving my house gives me the tingles. Agoraphobia is defined by an extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded places, leaving one's home, or being in places from which it's difficult to escape.
By the end of this video you'll know what agoraphobia is and what I tell my patients on how to treat it.
It's theorized that agoraphobia starts when an individual has one or more panic attacks, causing them to worry about having another attacks and avoiding the places that it happened. The thing about panic however is that it can happen anywhere and the brain is soooooooo good at remembering the places. It sends out the signal that those places are dangerous. People start realizing that their world starts shrinking and shrinking and shrinking. I can't go to grocery stores any more, gas stations are out of the question, driving is a no-no, the last social event caused me to panic, those are out. Forget flying or any type transportation because I cannot get out if I start to panic.
You know the safe place to be. Home. I don't panic at home. What ends up happening is that this magical illusion that home is safe becomes a reality. If the person attempts to leave, even to get the mail, they panic because....they've told themselves that home is safe and WHY ARE YOU NOT IN YOUR HOUSE! How about I give you a panic attack to set you strait.
You can see how difficult this can be for someone. Why panic if we don't have to. Even at the expense of others and missing out on life.
It's not only panic that sets in, but various physical symptoms. Chest pains, chills, diarrhea, feelings of choking, feelings of unreality, nausea, numbness, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, and shaking. Yikes, with all of these physical symptoms after leaving the house, why would you.
Typically agoraphobia doesn't just start overnight. It's a longer process of eliminating the places, people, things around you.
So how do we get out of this sticky mess! The most effective treatment that works for agoraphobia is called exposure and response prevention.
Essentially, you are facing your fears, sensations, panic, and anxiety. Most start slow. They write down all the places they would like to revisit and go and rank them from easiest to go to, to hardest. The ideas is to start getting yourself to that place, but in the right way.
Here is what I mean. If my goal is to get to the mailbox. I may be focusing on sitting on my front porch and noticing how much distress or panic this brings. I need to sit on my front porch, feeling all the feelings, and respond differently to them. If panic attacks happen. Great! We don't run. We don't fix. We sit with the feelings. Some may even say, "yep" there is the panic attack. Sweet, it may last forever. Focusing on taking all this value away from it. Panic isn't the enemy. Your body thinks it's keeping you safe. The panic and distress have to go down. When the distress levels go down, you haven't done any compulsions and you've responded completely differently, some may walk inside for a few minutes and then do it again.
Repeat until the distress levels just simply don't rise as much as they used to. Then, the person chooses to move closer to their goal. Maybe it's sitting in their yard. Read a book. Be there. Again, not fixing, not running, embracing the feelings. You then move closer and closer. Each time this process is done, the brain learns who's the boss. You are the boss. We repeat this for everything on the list.
Ultimately, it's accepting that there will be panic. But it can't hurt you. You can teach it that you're cool with it. Physical symptoms can happen, but you're staying put. It can feel like a tough process, but I find that the anticipation of doing these exposures tends to be worse than the actual thing.
You need to learn to respond the correct way with these panic attacks, click right here to watch my other video on how to do this.
Have you struggled with agoraphobia before? What places do you avoid?
Thanks for watching and I will see you next time.
Treatment for agoraphobia
How to treat agoraphobia
OCD mood swings are a thing. You may have depression, anger, guilt, shame, stress, worry, low self-worth, get easily overwhelmed, and may even cry for long periods of time. But I wonder.....if you didn't struggle with OCD, would you experience all these other emotions?
By the end of this video, you're going to learn why your OCD may a possible cause to some of your other moods and feelings AND what we're going to do about it.
OCD can big whirlwind of distress and doubt. What happens when you're distressed and cannot find a good solution to relieve it. You get angry. Frustrated. Annoyed. You may even lash out at someone else. When there isn't a good answer to your OCD worries, sadness comes about, some may isolate. When we feel overwhelmed, we cry. The body just cannot handle the situation anymore.
There is often a drastic fluctuation in mood with someone who experiences OCD. We tend to think it's just anxiety. But when these unwanted thoughts, images, impulses and triggers happen, where are we to turn? Our body has to compensate somewhere. If I have a thought that God is not real, I may have intense guilt. If I have intrusive thoughts that go against my value system, I may experience disgust and shame.
It seems like a lot of these filter down to depression. The ultimate emotion that says, you're stuck, you're not moving forward, there is no hope for you. What's the point?
It's easy in these modes to start blaming others for triggering the OCD or not helping you engage in a compulsion. Rage and anger join the party. Ultimately, the person just wants relief.
So to me, OCD tends to be the base and intensifier to so many other emotions. Causing them to skyrocket at times and causing someone to feel very low. Even feel like they are going crazy.
So here is what we're going to do about these OCD mood swings.
So here is one method many choose to do is externalize their OCD. Some have given their OCD a name. Sup Jimmy. Oh Karen, there you are.
Externalizing the OCD separates yourself from it. So the intrusive thought you're having is no longer YOU. We're not using this as reassurance to convince yourself that it's not you. We're simply giving you a new mindset to say, "my OCD is telling me this intrusive thought" "my OCD is telling me I am a bad person." "My OCD is throwing some interesting thoughts my way"
We're less likely to feel an emotion attached when we simply acknowledge a thought and move forward. We do not however use phrases like, "this is just my OCD" as a way to convince you. We still sit with the distress and uncomfortableness of it all. Staying uncertain. Choosing to not figure it out or do any compulsion.
These OCD mood swings are arriving because you are internalizing an intrusive thought with a lot of meaning and putting value on it. So if I had a blastomphous thought and internalized it and went through the loops of trying to figure out if it was me or why I would even think that...I'm going to start feeling lots of different emotions. Shame and guilt. If I took this same thought and say, "oh hey there OCD thought" - it no longer puts it all on me. Instead, the disorder.
We can reduce the different emotions by doing treatment. Exposure and Response Prevention; (if you didn't already know that) *wink
To even better have more control over your emotions, watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your OCD treatment here.
What emotions does your OCD make you feel? Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
OCD and Depression
OCD tips for anxiety
Am I gay or in denial?
So I have a few videos on sexual orientation ocd or HOCD and inevitably, someone will comment. "how do I know I'm not just using OCD as an excuse to hide that I am gay." Man, I don't blame you, I'd want to know this answer myself. Well in this video, my attempt is to answer this question WITHOUT providing reassurance; which we all know is a compulsion that keeps OCD at bay.
First address the random comments from strangers: "you all just need to accept that you're gay and stop hiding it." or "sexual orientation OCD doesn't exist." As you can tell these types of comments from strangers can be damaging and cause even more anxiety. So let's set the record strait. "get it.....strait."
Sexual orientation OCD is a subset of OCD. As we know, it attacks what we value and care about. It will make someone question everything about themselves. It can be their sexual orientation, make someone question if they are gay. If they are strait. If they are transgender. It makes you question if you even have OCD. Which brings us here, in this moment.
Am I already diagnosed with OCD? Have I had other OCD themes in the past? If so, there is a good chance OCD has moved to this new theme. Do I feel anxiety and a strong urge to know right now? and I mean it....like right now! I won't be satisfied until I know this answer....right now! If that's the case, it's likely to be OCD-related.
Someone who is figuring out their orientation thinks about it in an inquisitive way. Not with extreme anxiety that just won't pass. To me, this is a big indication. Denial means I am choosing to push something away and not think about it. There is the key....not think about it. Someone who is denying something has this ability. Someone with OCD may not. Their brain is forcing a thought. A thought they don't want. A thought that goes against their values and their morals. It is ego-dystonic. It doesn't belong.
But as we get so caught up in the context of am I gay or am I not; this often can be the trap. You may be watching this video right now and saying...okay Nate says, people have anxiety and can't let it go if they have OCD. Does that sound like me? I'm not sure if that sounds like me. Maybe I really am in denial. I better keep searching. So while OCD seeks this truth, it's really a lie. That's why we gain the upper hand by telling it that you're actually okay not finding the answer. It may seem so out of control that someone can accept that they will not get this answer; but just like any other theme of OCD, this is the way. This is the treatment.
Using phrases like, "maybe, maybe not" give our brain this answer that's like...okay man....I'm accepting that I don't know and I'll learn to be okay as long as I don't continue to do compulsions. So ultimately, you may be thinking. Nate, you didn't really answer my question. I still want to know if I'm gay or not. Or if I'm strait or if I'm transgender.
Here is the real answer....the way to know is to not know. Sounds nutzo, but it's so true. To commit to not figuring this out is the key. To live your life the way YOU want to live your life. To not stop yourself from moving forward. To not engage with the thought of, "am I gay or not."
To commit and I really mean commit, 100% that I am not going to figure this out anymore. I'm going to stop researching, asking on forums, engaging with my rumination or asking for reassurance.
What ends up happening is one of two things. The theme moves to something else, all of a sudden I'm worried about car emissions and if they are hurting my lungs; or your brain simply doesn't care to find the answer and stops bothering you about it. Think about this, the only reason words have meaning is because we put meaning to it. When you've stripped it all way. It's got nothing left. Your job is to live your life. Move forward, Feel the anxiety and make it your buddy. Commit to not know. To gain even a better understanding of treatment, make sure you watch this video, where I go through the treatment for sexual orientation OCD
How do I know if I'm gay
I'm scared that I'm gay
How long does OCD recovery take?
Isn't this the question we have with anything we want to go away in our life? How long will I have this? This question can cause a lot of anxiety to think about and bring a lot of comfort. It all depends on what mindset you have.
To jump right into it, recovering from OCD depends on many factors. Do I have the right tools and am using the right treatment? Am I actually using the treatment often? Do I have a strong foundation for therapy?
For many, treatment can be relatively quick. Individuals can feel better sooner, while others it may take longer. It also depends on the severity of symptoms. It's already infiltrated itself into your day, we might as well do something with it.
I almost hesitate to give a specific number because I do not want you to be your timeline because your timeline is YOURS. Here is what I've heard many specialists suggest their own research. Many can expect to feel recovered between 12-20 therapy sessions and can see a clinically significant decrease in OCD symptoms. Others give a timeline of 2 months. Personally in my own practice, I've seen individuals for a few weeks and others a couple of years. There is not that magical formula that fits each person, but I'll share with you what I see as a standard for individuals getting better quicker.
-Using exposure and response prevention the correct way.
-Building an exposure hierarchy to help you face your fears in a gradual way
-Doing these exposures daily and when I mean daily I don't mean 1x a day. I mean, making it your part-time job. It could be hours.
-Simply put. You've got to stop doing compulsions. Even if you're feeling anxiety.
-Your focus must be on recovery. It needs to take priority.
-You must accept the anxiety, fears, doubt, and guilt and decide they bring no more value into your life. You can't be wishy-washy. "I'll accept this fear, but have to figure out this one."
All these things are taught in my online OCD course. I'll link it here. You can even try it for free.
Ultimately, who's going to get better quicker. The person who knows the tools and will do them every once in a while or the person who's dedicated themselves to recovery. They recognize the pitfalls, where they can improve and use resources around them.
I do want you to know that you can recover from OCD. Things can get better. I also want you to have realistic expectations of what "recovery" means. For some, it may mean they are feeling minimal symptoms. For others, they've reduced symptoms up to 60% and are okay with that. Others may not feel symptoms for weeks, months, years. But here's the deal, this doesn't happen by doing treatment for a few months and then be golden for years to come. It's something you work on to maintain the progress that you've made. So when you hear others say online, "I am recovered" keep this in mind.
Here is the most important thing. Your recovery is your own. Your timeline is your own. If you do get caught up in, "how long will this take" you may give yourself an answer like, "it takes as long as it takes and I've accepted this."
I want you to get on top of this, you need to go right now watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your own OCD here.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
How to recover from OCD
Recovery from OCD
How to delay compulsions
I'm just going to get right to it! Just stop doing the compulsions. Easiest video ever... peace. Just kidding, don't leave yet. If you don't know by now, stopping those pesky compulsions can be extremely difficult. It's those things that you brain says you have to do to feel better or reduce a "threat" that often isn't ever a threat.
Instead of the all-or-nothing approach of either do the compulsion or don't, I'm going to teach you a way to ease yourself into this uncomfortableness. "but why would I want to feel comfortable." I hear you! It's so you can get your life back. Okay, no more fluff. Here is what I want you to know. Postpone or delay your compulsion. This compulsion could be a ritual of some kind. It could be washing hands, asking for reassurance, researching online, skin picking, or plain old rumination. The attempt to problem solve.
It may not be as simple as postponing the compulsion so here's what you can do. Pull out a piece of paper and write down all of your compulsions. Maybe you rank them from 0-10 --- 0 being easy to resist and 10 being out of this world hard to resist. You may want to start with the easier ones first. Create a goal for yourself. I'll use hand washing as an example. If I feel the need to wash my hands every time I touch my phone, I am going to see if I can delay this. Don't sell yourself short, but be realistic. Can you do it for 10 seconds? I bet you could. Could you do it for 20 seconds, 30, or 40? How about even a few minutes? What about a few hours?
What's going to happen is that it's possible you'll forget to do the compulsion. That's right! That strong urge you were feeling was so overwhelming, but when you've waited long enough, that feeling reduced, allowing you to have a better chance at making a different decision. You can do anything you want to. Clique, I know. But it's so true. You need that mindset of stopping your compulsions and this may be a good place to start.
It can be important for you to set goals for yourself. I am postponing washing my hands today. I am choosing to not engage in figuring out this ruminating thought right now. I'll see how badly I want to figure this out at 10am today. At this time, If I remember, I'll see if maybe I can go until 12pm. You have all the power in the world. It's just knowing what to do with it.
Here is something to remember, you're going to be feeling some distress or anxiety. Remind yourself that it's okay. Anxiety is not the bad guy. I don't blame it, it's job is to warn you that you're in danger and gives you ways to feel better. That's the urge right there that we're not giving into. Be prepared and ready to feel uncomfortable while you're delaying compulsions.
You can choose to respond differently to the discomfort. Some may say, "yah man, love it" "thanks for this feeling." "I'm so excited to get better by not doing the compulsion." Any threat that comes your way can be answered with a "maybe, maybe not." This helps the brain be okay with no answer. No answer is the key. You got this!
To be empowered and gain an upper hand, you need to know what compulsions you do that are sneaky. You may not even know you're doing them. Go watch that right now.
How to stop anxiety compulsions
How to stop OCD compulsions
Emotional Contamination Treatment Strategies
Did you know that someone with OCD can feel contaminated by a simple thought? A thought like, if I associate with people I perceive as "dumb" I will become dumb myself. Not only that, but they have to do many rituals to get rid of this mental and emotional contamination.
What is emotional contamination and how is it treated? That's what today's video is all about.
Well, you've probably heard of plain old contamination. Touching things that appear contaminated, these are all physical objects that enter someone's life. When it comes to emotional contamination, it's very different. This same feeling of contamination is often felt is all because of an association their brain put on something. Individuals will often get triggered by a thought, image or memory associated with an individual.
These things that make them feel contaminated can be an illness someone has or talks about or an individual that they know and dislike their traits. The key here is association. This subtype of OCD really attacks who they are and ruining their possible future.
For instance, someone may have all these goals of becoming a doctor. They have their classes ready to go, they have all the plans for the future. You know what would ruin this for them? If they couldn't pass their classes. If they just weren't smart enough. So the brain takes this value and says, well you know what. Jimmy struggled with this class and doesn't use proper grammar when he talks. If you talk or hang out with him, you will become like him. You are now contaminated. The only way to get this imaginary contaminant to go away is for you to do some compulsions.
It comes up with ideas; for sure don't hang out with Jimmy. Don't even say his name. Any association with him is dangerous. It's not going to get me to where I want to be.
Emotional contamination can show up with really any association. I could see a news report talking about the homeless population and its link to drug addiction. The news anchor was wearing yellow and standing under a tree. So now, my brain says, if I wear yellow, I'm in danger of being addicted to drugs. If I stand under a tree, it's possible my life will lead me to becoming homeless. Even seeing others around you wearing yellow triggers this contaminated feeling. It's more than something like magical thinking OCD (take a look at that video by the way). With magical thinking there is a superstitious thought, with emotional contamination it's a feeling.
It's a gross/yucky feeling. You think of touching something you know is gross and you immediately want to wash your hands. Imagine this inside you body, you want to do anything you can to cleanse yourself of this.
The compulsions individuals do really can be anything their brain tells them to do. Avoidance is a big one. I'm not even going to go there, see those people, watch shows, use social media, and even use words associated. It can be various rituals, washing hands, showering, or saying certain phrases over and over again.
We treat this just like any other subtype of OCD. With exposure and response prevention. That uncomfortable feeling essentially must be tolerated and responded to differently. For instance, the name Jimmy makes me feel contaminated, I know think I'll become dumb. I'm going to start looking at picture of Jimmy, hanging out with him, going online and searching anything I can about Jimmy. I may be writing his name out over and over again. I may be saying, "yep, I may or may not become dumb" -- That internal yucky feeling will be there, but it can't last forever. We're responding differently. Some may say, "man, I love this feeling" "I hope it lasts all day." I may be focusing on whatever the ultimate threats are. I may be using poor grammar on purpose. Sitting under that tree that makes me worried. Watching videos of the homeless population. Accepting uncertainty and breaking these associations by not engaging in the rumination or feeling that comes with it. Ultimately, doing the opposite of what my OCD tells me to do. Don't think about this phrase, I'm going to think about it. Don't wear yellow or else. I'm wearing yellow.
The brain needs to learn that you're the boss. You can handle anything and any feeling that comes your way.
Emotional contamination can feel similar to superstitious or magical thinking ocd. Watch that one here.
Also, if you've struggled with this before, let me know in the comments.
Insides feel contaminated
Ruined my future after talking to someone
How to treat misophonia
In this video, I'm going to tell you about 5 techniques that individuals use to help with misophonia.
You hear the sound of somebody eating. you instantly get enraged. Someone around you just yawned and you want nothing more than to leave the room and scream. You avoid restaurants because you can't stand the sound. When people talk and make the S sound, you immediately have a fight or flight reaction. If this sounds like you, you may have what is called Misophonia.
Misophonia is not just an ordinary annoyance with sound. This is so much more. We all get annoyed from time to time. I absolutely cannot handle it when somebody is chewing their food. But there are times when I don't notice it. But this wouldn't be considered misophonia. Instead, I have a case of normal annoyance.
Individuals who have misophonia are affected emotionally by common sounds. What time they are sounds that most people don't ever pay attention to. Some examples may be breathing, yawning, certain letters that people say. It could be the rustling of paper, someone chewing gum. Someone sniffing. Really it could be any noise. These simple noises cause a fight or flight response. This response tells the body to RUN. Get out of there. It can cause anxiety, distress, and anger.
Whenever I talk about this usually response to get from somebody is, "Oh I totally have that" I hate when people click their pen or hearing the pants shuffle. - But likely, it's not misophonia. Here is one big indicator to look for:
Misophonia seriously compromises functioning, socializing, and ultimately mental health. So if you hear a sound you don't like, does it cause you to not function. For those who struggle with this, it can take over their life.
You may think....well, get over it. It's just sound. But not to do those who experience this. It can be torture.
There is not much research that is done for those who struggle with misophonia, however, researchers have found that whos who have misophonia have higher amounts of myelination. This fatty substance wraps around nerve cells in the brain to bo provide electrical insulation. Right now, we don't know if that extra myelin plays a part, but it goes to show us that individuals are not just making it up. This is a real disorder.
Anger is a biiiiiiiig response to these noises. Individuals will often feel betrayed that someone will make this noise around them and snap. "you know I don't like when you tap your fork on the plate." Isolation seems to be the only fix.
There is some debate on what therapy strategies you should use with misophonia and realistically, each person may be different. Here are 5 methods that could be used for misophonia.
#1 - Distress tolerance techniques - Exposure and response prevention with the idea to habituate does not seem to be helpful. We've learned that these sensitive to sound don't just "simply go away" Instead, we teach to tolerate the sounds. To have a distressing emotion AND still be able to move forward with life. Continue watching the movie, continue eating at the table, continue talking to friends. This idea for some is to on purpose be exposed to a sound and respond differently to it. Not expecting it to go away, but to connect with valued activities while hearing the sounds. Acceptance seems to be the key here. I've excepted that these sounds will trigger a negative response, but am sitting with this and will continue forward instead. Simply put, some may hear a sound over and over and over again, while doing an activity that they enjoy. Teaching their brain that they can still talk with family members AND hear that sound. Both can be in existence in the same bubble.
#2 - Manage the environment - This one is tricky and really designed to manage symptoms. Not treat them. What this means is simply to accommodate! Yikes, did you ever think I'd say that? It feels weird for me to say, but in a lot of cases, misophonia can be so distressing that individuals can change the environment to minimize the chance of a sound happening. If I'm triggered by metal spoons touching the bowl, the family may eat with plastic spoons. I may use headphones at the dinner table while we're eating. I change things around knowing I may still be triggered, but the chances are slimmer. It can be tough because you cannot control each situation or environment. But acceptance also helps to know, if the sound is heard, then it's heard. In other words, accommodations (headphones, white noise, noise cancellation) alone, without cognitive-behavioral strategies is not recommended as a sole treatment strategy.
#3 - Self-compassion - since anger is a big component of misophonia, individuals can often get angry at others or themselves. When someone practices self-compassion, it has been shown to increase treatment outcomes and reduce overall emotions. Keep an open mind that you may hear a sound you don't like. Be kind to yourself if you do. You may use phrases like, yep, there is that sound and I am an awesome person. Or, my uniqueness makes me special. Self-compassion may me that you're continuing to live life despite the idea that you may hear a noise.
#4 - Emotion regulation techniques - Individuals who practice emotional regulation tend to cope better with life's stressors and are more resilient. Ultimately, this may help a level of 10 out of 10 of anger to lower. Emotional regulation can look like this for kid and even adults. Name the feeling. Instead of feeling frustrated or anger, name it. I feel angry when I hear that noise. I feel distress when I hear that sound. It can help take a step back and label what's happening. Notice your body, the sensations that are happening. Practicing self-awareness. My heart is beating fast, my head feels hot, my hands are shaking. We can notice without putting judgement. Not saying, it's bad that my heart is beating fast. It just simply is beating fast. Another emotional regulation technique is to "pause" - don't immediately run at any sound heard. Take a moment to pause. Notice the sensations, feelings, emotions and then reevaluate your choice.
#5 - Self-soothing - Because we know that sound is sensory. To help calm emotions and feelings, some choose various self-soothing techniques. Meditation, yoga, breathing. Some find it helpful to use fidgets or other self-soothing tools when emotions are high. It can be take a few deep breaths. Engaging in positive self-talk. Place your hand over your heart and notice the beats. Sit with your pet. Color something. List positive things about yourself. Use your 5 senses to enjoy the work around you.
Ultimately, here's the thing. Misophonia isn't just about being sensitive to sound. It's on a whole another level. Be patient with those who have it. Be patient with yourself. Do you or something you know struggle with misophonia?
What to do when I hate sounds
What is misophonia
Tips to handle nightime anxiety
Man, have you ever noticed that anxiety tends to increase as it gets closer to nighttime? In this video, I am going to give you 10 tips to help you calm this pesky nighttime anxiety and help you get a better night sleep.
There are many statistics that show that many individuals struggle with sleep on a regular basis. In fact, 50% of those who are sleep deprived say that their anxiety impacted their ability to sleep. it's like a double-edged sword. Anxiety tends to cause less sleep and having less sleep tends to cause more anxiety.
Our brain is simply tired at the end of the night. We've had 1000+ different thoughts, we had problems to solve, homework to do, and really, the biggest thing we're thinking about is....those things we don't know. Our brain can get so stuck on the future, the what-ifs, the things we have no control over. This is where anxiety loves to live.
To teach this anxiety who's the boss, here are your 10 tips to help with your nighttime anxiety.
#1 - Practice meditation - We need to learn to calm our brain from the day. Teaching it to not problem solve before we sleep. Some day, while we dream, our brain is throwing out useless information and even problem-solving. Some suggest this starts too soon, before we've gone to sleep, causing extra thinking and more anxiety. Meditation can be anything from starting a guided meditation you find online, to using your 5 senses to notice the things around you and practice not using judgment with them.
#2 - subscribing to this channel. It'll power you up. But really!
#2 - Practice good sleep hygiene - This typically means having a good schedule. You watch tv until a certain time, you turn your phone off at a certain time, you get to bed at a certain time. Consistency is the key. This may even mean limiting naps in the day and limiting caffeine or alcohol. Sticking to a schedule that you can count on trains your brain to sleep when it needs to sleep.
#3 - Avoid stressful activities before bed - It's important to create a transition from daytime to nighttime. The goal is to teach the brain that daytime Is for problem-solving and thinking, and nighttime is for relaxing. This may mean, no work past a certain time, no news and no social media. Some may even find that watching TV right before bed presents an issue.
#4 - Limit screen time - Have you heard of "blue light" - it tricks your brain into thinking the sun is up. It keeps you awake. Professionals suggest shutting down all screens 1-2 hours before bedtime to minimize sleep interruptions. This also allows your brain to slow down and prepare for sleep. For some people this is a must, for others, that's just part of the lifestyle. There are blue light filters to minimize the blue light. This isn't only for your sleep, but for your anxiety.
#5 - Use a weighted blanket - It's like a hug, but without the hug. Weighted blankets produce calming effects. The deep pressure can help increase serotonin and melatonin while decreasing cortisol. Ultimately, this promotes feelings of calmness and peace.
#6 - Exercise in the day. Exercise reduces the production of stress hormones. With less stress hormones, we tend to have less anxiety. Regular exercise has shown to help people fall asleep faster and more soundly. Even brisk walks. However, Individuals should avoid vigorous activity at least 1 hour before bedtime.
#7 - Set aside time for winding down - This is all about routines. Think about things that get you in the mood to sleep. Dimming the lights, listening to calming music, a warm bath. At least 30 minutes before bedtime, individuals can start this transition. Schedule this out. I am sleeping every night at 10:30 - The body and brain need to know this routine.
#8 - Write worries down on paper - Sometimes our thoughts just won't stop. But that's okay. Thoughts are thoughts. Some find it helpful to pull out a piece of paper and write down thoughts in the day. Anxious feelings or things they need to get done. The act of putting them on paper often tells the brain, it's here. I'll get to it when I get to it. But what you'll find as well is that most of things you're writing are things you have zero control over. Or they are things in the future that we are unsure of. Teach the brain that you wrote them down and are no longer problem solving them. Sometimes a quite answer to the brain like, "okay" "cool" "gotcha" can signal that you have the thought, but aren't moving any closer to it.
#9 - Avoid lying in bed awake - Leaving the bed may feel counterintuitive, but getting out and doing something relaxing can help calm the body and almost reset the loop of thoughts. This doesn't mean pull out your phone and scroll through social media. Ultimately, this conditioning is known as stimulus control and can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. If you try this, it's important to actually leave your bedroom, get a mental reset, and try again.
#10 - Let thoughts be thoughts - The more you try to control them, the more they have control over you. Practice not putting any value to these thoughts. It doesn't matter if they bring anxiety or if they are random. Let a thought be a thought. Just like before, answer like, "okay" "cool" "gotcha" or "maybe, maybe not" signal to the brain that it's just not your thing to figure out all the thoughts. That may have it's place another time.
Ultimately, what's important to know is that many have anxiety about the act of actually falling asleep. It's actually okay to feel anxious. The body is throwing out false signals. Allow your body to do what it's going to do. When anxiety arrives, you can acknowledge it. Hey there, welcome. You can stay or leave whenever you want. The more we take value away, the more the brain learns from these experiences and is less likely to bring it again next time.
So what'd you think? What helps you with your nighttime anxiety? Let me know in the comments
Stop night time anxiety
How to sleep faster from anxiety
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.