Earplugs & The nervous system
Nervous system regulation tool # 3: Earplugs. The nuances of being a neurodivergent, highly sensitive person can show up differently for different people and for me it includes a sensitivity to sound.
Earplugs have played a crucial role in managing my auditory sensitivity and regulating my nervous system. I first stumbled across them in college and found that when I wore them to study, even in the fairly quiet library, I could concentrate a million times better because I didn’t have to put any energy into filtering out the noises around me.
Fast forward several years, I decided to experiment with earplugs in a variety of settings beyond the normal places like live music shows where my friends were wearing them too. I put some in to help me focus on my shopping list when I was heading into a noisy, crowded Trader Joe’s during rush hour, or Costco at any time of day(!), or when I was walking around Lake Merritt in Oakland on a busy, Sunday afternoon. They would drown out the background noise and allow me to fully focus on the task at hand or the visual beauty surrounding me.
Now, they are a staple in my day-to-day life and I couldn’t imagine living life without them. I use neutral-colored plugs with lower decibel coverage when I’m at a store so they aren’t noticeable and I can still hear if someone needs to squeeze by me. When I’m concentrating on a project at a cafe, library, or at home, I use the ones that have a higher decibel coverage.
Do you have a sensitivity to sound? Do you use earplugs, ear defenders, or noise canceling headphones in your daily life? Or any other tools for auditory sensitivity?
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