Thank you so much Vivian for your lovely words! And for sharing your own experience with sensory issues. I wonder just how many people are constantly suffering from ambient irritation and stress just from navigating the everyday world — it seems so common that it’s confusing to me how we even ended up with the loud, crowded, bright public spaces that we have.

Open offices are the devil!! I think they became trendy because they’re a great way to economize space and treat your staff as if they’re all replaceable, and because a few myths circulated for years about how Millennial workers supposedly need to be in social contact at all times. I remember groaning when I first heard panels claiming that. Over a decade later we’re still all paying the price for that stereotype.

I have tried ear plugs but those cause sensory issues of their own for me, sadly! I have really small ear holes and even small-sized/child-sized ear buds can cause me discomfort after a while. I haven’t gotten any of the fancy noise-diminishing ones like you’ve described, though I’ve definitely wanted to give them a shot. And to make matters even more annoying, my ears jut out in a way that makes many over-the-ear headphones also intensely painful to wear. I’m cursed! I do use headphones to drown out social noise on the bus and at work, pretty much constantly — I’d be in way worse shape without having that as an option. But it’s also a trade off because of the physical pain.

Sleep masks, on the other hand, have really improved my life! Bought a decent one before my Christmas trip home; it has little pockets of soft felt to help block light from leaking in from underneath and around the nose, and it made riding an Amtrak overnight much more comfortable for me.

I’ll have to try the noise isolating buds you mentioned, they sound really interesting. I also need to try a sensory deprivation tank just so I know what sensory peace feels like as a baseline, ha ha.

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