Quiet: Why You Need It & Where To Find It

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Let’s talk about noise, shall we? Or more apropos, LET’S TALK ABOUT NOISE, SHALL WE?

Since the Industrial Revolution, its encroachment into our daily lives has long been the price we begrudgingly pay for technological advancements, whether it be the internal combustion engine’s infernal roar, Alexander Bell’s insistent ring (and its even-more-annoying cellular versions), the commercial Sturm und Drang of radio and TV, the sonic shockwave of amplified sound, the beatbox of the modern home laundry or the backyard cacophony of mowers, trimmers, edgers and blowers. And that’s before you add the human voice to the mix (parents, you know what I’m not talking about)!

Not surprisingly, similar advances in the neurosciences have quietly deduced that noise, which tellingly derives from the Latin word nausea, not only disrupts our thinking; it also saps our energy, fogs our memory, short-circuits our judgment and even impedes our learning.

Why? Scientists theorize that the part of our brain that “listens” to auditory incoming is the same one that juggles short-term memory. A 2012 study in The Journal of Neuroscience found that subjects who were asked to remember a sequence of numbers, child’s play for most of us, found it difficult once noise made those numbers harder to hear.

Conclusion: it turns out we truly “can’t hear ourselves think!”

Since a meeting planner’s odds of escaping life’s inevitable bleeps, blips, pings and dings are slim at best, the more prudent course of action is to turn down the riot and embrace the quiet.

Here are five ways to restore some aural balance to your everyday.

Control the clatter: In today’s device-driven, always-connected world, many of us unwittingly subject ourselves to noise within our control. By taking such simple steps as leaving devices at home while jogging, setting your phone to vibrate, turning off social media notification dings and weaning yourself of TV background noise, you’ll reclaim the mental space you need to relax and recharge, mentally and emotionally.

Keep noise in its place: Getting an upper hand on the annoying, everyday noises you can’t control requires putting noise in perspective. Psychologists suggest keeping the annoyances at bay by reminding yourself that your mental powers far outweigh the audio distractions around you. One popular mantra to repeat: “Disturbances in air vibrations don’t have to create disturbances in my emotions.”

Retreat to the latrine: As every new mom knows, when the unending noise of a newborn becomes unbearable, there’s one surefire retreat: the bathroom. But you don’t need to baby-scape to enjoy a few minutes alone to reclaim your mental and emotional happy place from the clatter and chatter of the day. “Introverts recharge by having peaceful time alone,” according to therapist and life coach Kristen Brunner.

Try noise-canceling headphones: Why not use technology to vanquish its inconvenient side effect? Minnesota audiologist Mandy Cerka Mroz, who directs consumer information site HealthyHearing.com, says the noise blockers can prove especially handy while traveling. “If I’m on an airplane, I’ll put mine on while I read a book or look at the window,” she says. “It’s much more relaxing.”

Dare to be quiet: Sometimes the quickest way to turn down the volume that surrounds you is to withdraw your participation. Socially awkward? Perhaps. But in those no-win barroom chat-athons, it’s sure better than an ear-beating.

Photo credits: Shutterstock.com

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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