As you’ve probably noticed, it’s a noisy world. All our technology helps ensure we’re never sitting in silence. But experts advise that may not be the best thing for us. Silence and solitude have been shown to improve our physical and mental wellbeing. And gaining the benefits of silence in our lives really isn’t that difficult.
Researchers found that even a quiet walk in a park can stimulate brain growth in the hippocampus, leading to better memory. They found that three walks per week of forty minutes were enough to stimulate such growth.
The noise of our lives has a measurable effect on our brains. Sounds we hear cause our bodies to react, stimulating the release of stress hormones. Silence has the opposite effect. One study found silence could reduce tension after just two minutes. The silence was more relaxing than music, helping lower blood pressure and improving blood circulation in the brain. Silence has also been shown to benefit the body’s immune systems, reduce plaque formation in arteries and help fight insomnia.
So how do you reduce the noise in your life? It starts with a conscious choice to seek the silence. You need to put away the tech devices, escape from the demands of family, friends, and work. Instead find silence, even if only in small bites of quiet time.
One easy way is to get outside in nature and take a walk. If you want to walk with someone else, that’s fine, but just agree that at least part of the walk will be in mutual silence. You might also start off your day with a five-minute delay in getting out of bed. Use the time to awaken slowly, enjoy the early morning quiet, and think warm, pleasant thoughts rather than rushing into the worries and pressures of the day.
Another simple way to focus on silence is with deep breathing exercises during the day. Focusing on your breathing, even for just a minute or two, can help calm your mind and shut out the noises of the world.
Meditation is another path to silence for many. Whether you teach yourself, use an online app or take a class, it can help you silently focus on your thoughts. Silence may seem hard to find at times, but putting some silence in your life can bring you considerable benefits.
This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.