An Air of Silence: How to quieten the noise in your life
According to the World Health Organisation, noise pollution is the second biggest environmental threat to our health after air pollution. They suggest that 40% of Europe’s population is exposed to noise levels in excess of 55dB at night; a level that disturbs sleep, concentration and productivity, raised blood pressure and has increased the incidences of heart disease. Because we cannot see it, it is easy to overlook the serious impact that noise can have on our health.
Today’s world is full of distraction. Our pace of life is fuelled by technology and social media. We have gadgets and gizmos that literally drive our lives. Our phones mean we are now constantly connected to the noise of the external world; we no longer come home, shut our doors and switch off. The constant barrage of noise in our daily lives can damage our physical and mental wellbeing.
Slowly, bit by bit, the endless noise is cutting off our senses. We are becoming disconnected from ourselves and our innate ability to simply be. Rather than tuning into our values and beliefs, or our intuitive selves, we are living in our heads more and more trying to make meaning of this noise. We are losing the ability to be in the present moment; to not stress about what has happened in our past or become anxious about what might be. We are in a constant state of flight or fight which in turn is compromising our immune systems and leading to the dis-ease of our bodies. Mental health issues are on the rise and anxiety and depression are becoming just as frequent as the common cold.
Silence can have a positive effect on our wellbeing in many ways. Silence is liberating. It enables you to slow down or stop. To switch off from external stimuli and turn inwards. It enables us to listen to ourselves, to connect with how we truly feel rather than how we think we should feel. In silence we have the ability to be whomever we need to be. We can be present with ourselves.
But silence doesn’t always mean our external world needs to be entirely quiet. Silence can simply be the quietening of the mind, a moment in time where we are least distracted. It is in these moments that we can remove ourselves from the stresses of the day. It allows our creativity to flow and our decisions to download effortlessly.
Lessening the noise in our lives and encouraging silence can play an integral role in our overall wellbeing. It can enable us to get a better night’s sleep, help reduce the risk of heart disease and other issues such infertility and weight-loss. Silence takes the pressure off the systems of the body and in particular can have a positive impact on our endocrine system; reducing the over production of hormones such as cortisol (the stress-inducing hormone) and stimulating the production of hormones such as melatonin which encourages sleep.
8 Ways To Create Silence In Your Life
Write a journal. There is something very therapeutic about writing a journal. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your daily life. What has gone well? What hasn’t gone so well? And what you have learnt from it all to take into your next day. For those who are not keen writers, journalling doesn’t need to be long paragraphs or epistles. It can be as short and sweet as a bullet journal; simply précising your best bits and not so good bits in concise bullet points. This process enables you to shut off from the world and can bring clarity to your thoughts in a way that you may not find without writing them down. Journalling can be done daily or whenever you feel the need to gain some perspective on life.
Read a book. Curling up with a good book and losing yourself in the world of fiction or non-fiction enables you to turn inwards. Reading can happen anywhere, anytime. Everyone can find an opportunity to read in their day; whether it is early in the morning before everyone else awakes, on the train on the way into work or in the last half an hour before you close your eyes.
Receive a therapeutic treatment. Switching off from noise and allowing your whole body to relax and unwind can be achieved through holistic treatments such as massage. Therapeutic touch from an experienced massage therapist can help to improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Sarah Tomlin, Massage Therapist at Haelan Therapy suggests, “Through touch, massage boosts our levels of oxytocin, a feel good chemical in the brain. As well as bringing pleasure in the short term, the rise in oxytocin strengthens personality traits such as warmth, love and trust, ensuring the effects of the massage extend far beyond the therapy room and out into your life”. You can read more in her blog here about using massage to find inner peace.
Self-massage is also a great way to take time out. Simply massaging your hands, feet and legs using shop bought creams and lotions can decrease the stress hormone cortisol and increase endorphins which are the body’s natural feel good chemicals and can boost your mood naturally. Regular massage once a month will enable you to take time out from all the noise in your life and stay on top of your physical and mental wellbeing.
Visit museums, art galleries, libraries and gardens. If you live or work in a town or city, getting away from it all and finding zones of quietness and solitude can be hard. But a quiet oasis can be found in the form of museums, galleries and private gardens. A quick trip during your lunch break can enable you to reset, recharge and gather your thoughts.
Take a walk in nature. The natural sounds of nature although create noise, emit a peaceful silence instead of a hostile noise. Whether it is the swish of the trees as the wind passes through its leaves and branches, or the sound of the sea as it laps against the pebbles on the beach, or the hoot of an owl as it communicates with its mate, the sounds of nature can aid our wellbeing. Exposure to a park full of greenery or the countryside contributes to your physical and emotional wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, muscle tension and can help to reduce anger, fear and stress. Jo Osborn, Transformation Coach at Haelan Therapy suggests in her Walk To School Blog that “The great outdoors is like nature’s wellbeing clinic and spending as little as 20-30 minutes walking outside each day can have some huge impacts on our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.”
Rise early. If your days are busy and you are constantly surrounded by people and technology, rising 30 minutes earlier than anyone else can allow you to be alone and catch some stillness and silence. Perhaps make yourself a soothing drink, wrap up warm and seat yourself somewhere comfortable to watch the sunrise. Give yourself this time to connect; concentrate on your breath, the rise and fall of your chest and listen to the sound of your heart beat. Take the time to set your intentions for the day.
Diarise regular ‘me time’ slots in your calendar. For example make time every Monday morning before your week kicks off to have an hour to yourself. Give it a name such as ‘My Space’ which makes it a special time just for you. You can meditate, journal, read or simply just be during this time.
Have a technology amnesty. Agree a time at least once a week when all technology including phones, computers and smart tvs are switched off. Use this time to read or take a walk away from all distractions.
Rebecca Louise Kelly