“Silence is golden,” they say, but it seems as though we have forgotten the value of silence. The modern world is a noisy place—so much so that people get accustomed to sounds and hardly register them anymore, particularly in an urban setting.
Most people will be woken up with an alarm, and then shortly after will play their favorite morning playlist, turn on a show, or listen to the news. Outside, planes roar overhead, vehicles rumble by, and pedestrians chatter as they pass. Though you might not give a second thought to all this noise, it has the power to reduce cognitive function, put you into stress mode, and even shorten your lifespan. A World Health Organization report suggests that a third of people shave an entire year off their lives due to noise, which has also been linked to heart disease, tinnitus, sleep loss, and high blood pressure.
To mitigate the negative effects of excessive sound, we must intentionally seek out silence, even for just half an hour a day. Luckily, silence, like meditation, is free and accessible if we allow ourselves to settle into it.
Commit to shutting your phone off so you can spend some undistracted time with yourself in silence. Though it may seem boring and even uncomfortable at first, the time you spend in silence permits your brain to rejuvenate your cognitive functions and boosts creativity.
Die-hard music lovers will say that relaxing songs calm them effectively—and they’re not wrong! Relaxing music can positively affect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, however, a study from Heart demonstrates that silence is even more effective. When participants in the study were exposed to an interval of silence after listening to meditative music, they experienced an increase in relaxation.
Silence also helps people enter a state of self-reflection because when the consciousness is alleviated from other distracting stimuli, it has more freedom to process information, both internal and external, which can lead to better decision-making and enhance self-awareness.
While 30 minutes of silence is healing, a study in Brain Structure & Function demonstrated how committing to two hours of daily silence results in neurogenesis in the hippocampus. In other words, two hours of silence has the power to generate brain cells.
So, the next time you find yourself wanting to escape the silence, challenge yourself to embrace it instead and allow yourself to reap its healing benefits.