Our days are filled with noise.
Talking. Television. Traffic. Alarms. Phones. Texts. Music. Sirens. Barking dogs. Loud noise. Background noise. We are so accustomed to noise that some of us even need the whir of a fan or a white noise machine to help us sleep.
Noise is all around us, all the time. So much so that when its truly quiet, it is almost unnerving.
There’s been much research around how loud noises are harmful to hearing as well as how noise serves to disrupt focus and productivity, decrease our ability to solve problems, and results in reduced recall in both adults and children.
But there are also studies that indicate just how vital silence is to our brains.
Since 2014, Harvard researchers have been immersed in discovering how silence affects the human brain. What they’ve realized is that silence is necessary in so many ways.
It helps calm and restore our nervous system. Silence sustains our energy levels. It also helps balance our stress hormones, including that flight, flight, or freeze response.
Silence can also stimulate and improve the areas of our brains that enable us to be more responsive and adaptive.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center discovered that silence is connected with the regeneration of new cells in the brain’s hippocampus, the center focused on learning, emotions, and memory. Duke scientists say that silence can literally grow your brain.
In much the same way that a daily practice of gratitude and meditation are beneficial to our wellbeing, finding time to surround yourself with silence is another habit to add to the list. And often, the three meld beautifully together.
Since so many of us are not used to complete silence, it may be best to start slowly with one-minute silence increments, building to at least ten minutes of silence in your day.
One of the best ways to enjoy silence is to go into nature. Obviously, it won’t be completely quiet if you’re outside but the sound of birds chirping and leaves rustling offer a calming and close-to-quiet environment.
A walk outside clears the mind, reduces your heart rate and cortisol levels, and boosts your brain health. Or, find a quiet corner in your home or office and engage in meditation, write in your gratitude journal, work on a puzzle or crossword, doodle, or read.
Begin your day with a few minutes of peaceful silence before turning on the television or checking your phone. Savor the quiet of the morning and use it to center yourself before embarking on your day. During the day, take a few minutes of silence by turning off your phone, music, and shutting your office door. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and sit in silence.
Our 24/7, always-on world leaves little time for disconnecting. Finding just ten minutes a day to escape the constant demands and incessant noise is one of the best things we can do to rejuvenate our brain.
May your day be filled with (some) silence, gratitude, and good things.
Article excerpt from Silence by Jean Edelman.