I’ve been getting closely acquainted with a new environmental stressor lately, one that goes by the name of “Low Frequency Noise” or infrasound. Like many of the other invisible toxins, this is one of those things that not everyone hears or feels. Being the only one in the room that feels like there is an impending earthquake is rather unnerving – not only are you pushed into alert by strange noise and sensations, but you start to question your senses.
Luckily I know that there are simply certain individuals who are more environmentally sensitive than others and that I’m one of them. It doesn’t really surprise me that in addition to being able to smell mold when no one else can, I can also hear deep throbbing noise that others are blissfully ignorant of.
If you are curious what it feels like to experience LFN (low frequency noise), which is noise, after all, that humans are not supposed to be able to hear, my experience of it reminds me of hearing distant music with extremely heavy bass, only in this case, causing strong vibrations felt all over the body and uncomfortable pressure on the ears.
In my current location I had become accustomed to hearing these noises for one night every 3 months or so. It was uncomfortable but knowing that it was temporary made it bearable. This time around, when the noise didn’t stop the next day but continued day after day, night after night, I became highly distressed. The sensations of this noise put me on high alert and made it impossible to sleep.
After going a week without sleeping, I realized the stress of not sleeping was worse than the actual noise and that I had to find a way to reframe the noise and allow myself to get some sleep. Meanwhile, I have contacted the operator of the suspected source (nearby oil wells) and am looking into measurement and mitigation possibilities. I’m not giving up on finding a solution to end the noise, but in the meantime, I am determined to get my usual night’s sleep.
I tried this reframing idea a couple of times unsuccessfully. It only worked once I was able to imagine a realistic situation that could both account for the noise and appeal to me as a situation in which I could relax. My replacement scenario is being on vacation in Greenland, staying at a hotel that happens to be next to a port with freight ships loading and unloading. This works for me because the excitement of a vacation in a new place helps to balance out the stress of unwanted noise.
I decided to share this because I know that many of you are trying to cope with stressors that you can’t avoid or can’t totally avoid. Sometimes the best solution requires a move to a new home, a major renovation or some other action which you may not be capable of taking just yet. In the meantime, it is quite probable that being aware of the stressor is an additional form of stress in itself! Since you don’t need that extra little bonus dose of stress, my advice to you is to be creative and try to reframe your situation until you can resolve it. If you are able to manage your stress, you will protect your health and regain a feeling of power over the situation.
Resources on LFN: