The philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote, "a happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live." There’s nothing wrong with a bit of noise: music, bird song, the keening howls of your pet dog when they hear a fire truck roaring past your window. But we could all use some peace and quiet every now and then to re-center ourselves. Humans may be social animals but we need some alone time every so often to clear our heads. For this week’s Wellness Wednesday, we take a look at the reasons why silence is truly golden.
Quiets Your Anxious Mind
A major benefit of getting a little quiet time in your day is that it can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Silence can induce a state of mindfulness and relaxation, taking your mind off stressors that can inflame your anxieties. This drop is tied to our stress hormone, cortisol, which our body produces less of while in quiet environments.
If you’re interested in getting into meditation, practicing your meditation in silence can prepare you for the mental stillness you’ll need to cultivate as you make meditation a part of your routine.
Feeling a bit scatter-brained? Having trouble focusing on the task at hand? A bit of quiet can give you the clarity & focus you need to power through it. The lack of background noise, distracting music, and other people's voices that might pull your attention away will help you keep your eyes on the prize.
One of the interesting aspects of working in silence is that it can induce a form of positive stress that researchers call eustress. Eustress is a productive stress state in which we feel the burden of responsibility but also feel empowered by it due to our faith in our own abilities. It still requires us to mentally exert ourselves to accomplish this task but because we know we’re competent enough to do it it isn’t a negative form of stress. Think of it like the delayed sense of accomplishment you’d feel baking a cake you’ve made a dozen times before.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Research has found that sound (or a lack thereof) can have a tangible effect on your blood pressure. Researchers discovered that the blood pressure and heart rates of people who experience a 2-minute or longer period of silence after listening to music decreased significantly. While listening to quiet, soothing music can also lower your blood pressure, studies have found that the reduction that comes with silence is even greater.
If this sounds surprising, consider this: the reverse is true. Studies have concluded that noisy environments can elevate your blood pressure, jack up your heart rate, and even have a negative impact on your digestive health.
Ways to Turn Down the Volume
We live in a very noisy world, so finding time to turn down the volume and tune out the static can be a challenge. There’s a few tricks you can employ to achieve that golden silence:
- Sound-dampening headphones (preferably over-the-ear instead of earbuds, as that extra coverage provides more sound suppression)
- Get up earlier in the morning or do your quiet time late at night when most of the world is either sound asleep or slow to rise
- Close your windows and screens
- Invest in window treatments like curtains, blinds, and drapes that can absorb sound
- Soundproof your study/work room
- Establish “quiet hours” in your home where you’re not to be disturbed
- Turn off phone and computer notifications during quiet time
- Throw pillows, wool blankets, and thicket carpeting can also absorb sound (more porous surfaces/textures tend to “drink in” sound while harder surfaces like brick do not)
Article by Austin Brietta
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