noun: a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance.
Continuous exposure to noise can lead to physiological changes in blood pressure, sleep, digestion, and other stress-related disorders. But, here’s the thing: noise is not just the jackhammer on a construction site (which is, indeed, noisy). Here are some other examples of noise and noise pollution:
- the TV (think about it — we even call it “background noise”)
- our phones (ping, ping, ping)
- air conditioning, heater
- family members (some are louder than others, ha!)
- beeping appliances begging for your attention
See where I’m going with this? You might not think that, say, the microwave complaining with a beep or your Facebook “you’ve got mail” cha-ching is a big deal, but when they add up, our internal electrical system is being constantly overtaxed. Don’t forget, your animal brain is processing everything — all inputs — to determine if it is a threat to be dealt with or not. This happens subconsciously, so you aren’t even aware of it.
Here’s the bottom line: your brain and body are exhausted from the noise and need a noise break. And, we all know how good we feel when we get a break from the noise and find quiet.
I know that it’s not practical to jump in the car and head into the hills when you need a break. Here is some practical advice on how to get balanced and find quiet in your own space.
Turn Off What You Can Control
You have lots of noise pollution that you can control. Don’t rely on TV for “background noise” — your own thoughts or thoughtful conversation with your family/housemates make for a much richer experience.
Downsize on the phone notifications. Eliminate them completely, or strip down to the essentials. If you have household appliances that chirp or bleep unnecessarily, do some Googling and figure out how to undo that.
This is also an opportunity to visit your “honey do” list of house repairs. I know in my case, $100 and a busy Saturday of hard work eliminated a number of scratchy doors, squeaky floors, and I even have installed noise-blocking storm windows on older windows before. Believe me, the respite and finding quiet is worth it.
Make Time for Getting In Nature
You hear this advice all the time. Most good advice is repeated, and repeated, and repeated. Why? Because we need to hear it! You must make time to find quiet in nature. I find that even going on a quick walk up the hill and taking a loop or two in our neighborhood park is very restorative. Of course, heading up into the mountains for a hike where our phones don’t work is amazing, but that’s something special that can’t happen every day.
Don’t Be Afraid of Silence
I’m unapologetic in finding quiet when I need it. You have to get comfortable with silence; if you find that you really don’t like silence, ask yourself why that is? Maybe you’re sacred to acknowledge that your inner voice has some wisdom for you and you’re just ignoring it? Who knows. But make peace with silence — it’s your friend.
A set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones (get the ‘QuietComfort’ version) are a wonderful investment for your reading nook. I always have headphones on hand and usually sleep with them, because getting a refreshing eight hours of sleep is a must if you want to show up each day as the best version of yourself. While I’ve also shared my love of a white noise machine, you still need times of minimal audio input.
Don’t be afraid of the silence.