What to do with my nightmare neighbours

Our agony aunt, Mary Fenwick, offers a new perspective on whatever is troubling you


What to do with my nightmare neighbours

2 minute read

Q. Noise upsets me and a neighbour is doing building work at weekends, which is against council rules. My boyfriend says I should let it go but then I lose my temper with him too! I want to learn to be more relaxed and deal with this better, but it feels like an assault. Help! Name supplied

A. The soundtrack to our lives does affect us – the screechy violins in The Birds make us want to escape, while soothing music slows our heartbeat. Your reaction sounds strong, so check with your GP to rule out a medical condition.

The Noise Help website was set up by Sarinne Fox, an engineer and musician. Her home page asks: ‘Feeling assaulted by noise?’ She defines noise as unwanted sound. There is a special section on noisy neighbours, which points out the same approach will not work across the board. They could be angelic (‘So sorry, we’ll stop!’), clueless or aggressive. If you check how other neighbours are affected, you could find support to ask the council to intervene, or the beginnings of a community group to create new guidelines. 

In the meantime, small steps to reduce the impact will create space for negotiation and logic. You may have heard of white noise, which brings together other sounds so the annoying one is less intrusive; pink noise, which reduces higher frequencies, and brown noise or nature recordings, such as the sea or rainfall. Introducing these at home and finding ways to get back a sense of control will be both quicker and longer lasting than relying on someone else to change. 

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Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.

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