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Aren’t we bombarded with noise all the time? The incessant chatter that’s a part of work meetings, the blaring horns that dominate the streets, or even just loud music playing in the neighbourhood. No wonder, this has caused stress levels to spike, and of course, disrupted sleep schedules. But how about, for once, do we escape all this humdrum and embrace the power of silence? Just you and your breath engaging with each other?
Yes, we know it sounds like a scary thought, but it is essential to our well-being. A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) studied the impact of environmental noise from planes, trains, vehicles, and other community sources. It was found that noise is linked to health outcomes like cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment, and annoyance.
We are aware of these sounds, but then there are some others too (which we hear when we are asleep) that can have a negative impact on our well-being. The human ear really doesn’t sleep and is constantly absorbing sounds.
Our brain receives electrical signals of sound, and then automatically there’s a stress response in the amygdala. That means cortisol is released immediately, and the heart rate and blood pressure go up. Studies further reveal that exposure to nocturnal sounds can increase the risk of heart diseases. And if a person is exposed to noise long-term, it could cause health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep problems, and tinnitus. It is also likely to cause stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Our lives are full of noise (and too much hustle) and getting even a few minutes of silence is helpful. Moreover, with technology taking over our lives, we are constantly on our phones. We don’t realize it but it takes a toll on our mental health.
“Even when we are sitting with family members or friends, we are on our phones. Plus, we also speak with them. It just adds to the mental clutter and increases frustration and anger,” shared Shivika Sahay, a Delhi-based psychologist, with HealthShots.
Take some time out from external and internal chatter, and get some silence. Silence can be uncomfortable and scary for some people because they are forced to sit alone with worrisome thoughts.
Spend a few minutes every single day, practice breathwork, and sit in silence. It is as important as exercise and nourishment.
It’s time to know all the benefits:
1. Stimulates brain growth: According to a 2013 study titled Silence is Golden, two hours of solitude and silence can really refresh your mind. In fact, it also promotes healthy cell growth in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that’s responsible for memory formation.
2. Improves sleep patterns: Sleep is underrated but so important! When you sleep peacefully, both your mind and body are restored. All in all, it helps you to stay fit physically, emotionally, and cognitively. When you practice silence, your sleep quality improves, and insomnia also reduces.
3. Enhances memory: “Just sitting in silence for 10-15 minutes can help to improve your memory. In fact, it can help those who have neurological injuries, and may also aid those who have dementia and amnesia,” adds Sahay.
A 2014 study on patients with amnesia showed that a ten-minute rest in a quiet darkened room boosted recall from 14 to 49%.
4. Relieves stress: We already know how stress can impact our lives in several negative ways, but when you take out time and practice silence, your cortisol and adrenaline levels go down, and you feel relieved and relaxed. In fact, silence is said to be more relaxing than listening to meditative music.
5. Improves heart health: As per the American Heart Association, taking some time out to practice meditation and mindfulness can improve your heart health, since it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and thus lowers the risk for heart disease.
The World Health Organization has called noise pollution ‘a modern plague.’ So, try and sit back, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy the power of silence.