Living in the city we are rarely away from noise. The noise of busy roads, people talking, machines beeping, phones ringing. In fact our ears are subject to a whole barrage of sounds almost constantly and we might not realize it but for most of us there are very few moments throughout the day when we can just exist in silence.
What effect, if any, does this have on our health and wellbeing? Dr. Jack Westman, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says, “Noxious levels of sound are stressful and they may evoke a whole range of physical responses. The most common are an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.” (Ref.1). The negative effects of excessive sound are not only physical but also mental and emotional. Hearing loss, cardiovascular disease, changes in cognitive performance, mental health effects and sleep disturbances are some of the negative effects that researchers have been investigating (Ref.2) as they explore the consequences of noise. Current research, however, also suggests that “silence exercises” can be useful in managing a range of symptoms including pain, anxiety, stress, mood swings, depression and addiction amongst others. Moments of peace and quiet are truly a luxury, but there are many ways you can start to create more of them in your day.
Here are three you can try:
1. Unplug to unwind
Turn off all your devices for a period of time. Switch off your computer, your mobile phone and your TV. Disconnecting for a while from constant updates, notifications and information can be very calming.
2. Bedtime Bliss
Your bedroom is an excellent place to find your moment of peace during the day. Make the environment soothing by perhaps dimming the lights, keeping the room cool or filling it with beautiful things like a vase of flowers or a picture of loved ones.
3. Just breathe
Mindful, slow and deep breaths can help to relax the body and mind. If all else fails get back to the basics and just breathe. You can also try out simple yoga poses that will also help you to relax while you focus on your breathing!