Benefits Of Silence
What Daily Quiet Time Can Do For Your Health, According To Science
Since your alarm went off at 6:15 a.m., things have been a blur. Straight from morning coffee to the gym, then the office via a crowded train, and then post-work drinks. All of those to-dos set to a soundtrack of white noise or blasting Spotify playlists, without much time to truly decompress. The reality is, whether you notice it or not, our days are drowned in noise. In fact, a 2011 World Health Organization report called noise pollution a “modern plague,” concluding that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.”
Silence is truly golden, and most of us aren’t taking enough time to take a step back and hush up.
A study published in the journal Heart found that two minutes of silence can be more relaxing than listening to relaxing music, using changes in blood circulation to the brain and blood pressure as indicators. Silence can also better your memory: At least two hours of silence could create new cells in the hippocampus region, according to the journal Brain Structure and Function. And while you may not feel like totally zenning out and meditating is your thing, results from a study in JAMA Internal Medicine may persuade you otherwise. Researchers found older adults who had trouble sleeping experienced less fatigues, depression, and insomnia after doing mindfulness meditation.
“Mindfulness leads to healthy aging, and when combined with meditation can improve pain,” says Bonnie Marks, PsyD, psychologist at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation. Marks suggests that everyone unplugs and seeks some silence for 20 minutes a day, with 10 minutes being a great way to ease into things. “It’s best to schedule the same time each day, early morning or at noon,” she says.
Admittedly, the thought of sitting still and doing nothing on purpose does inspire a certain “meh” factor. But with A-listers like Hugh Jackman, Kobe Bryant, and Jerry Seinfeld all famously taking time to just breathe and disconnect, shutting down has to have it’s benefits, right? Just like dropping in on a CrossFit WOD, you can now also hit up a mindfulness class. Consider it HIIT training for your brain. Boutique meditation spots like like The Den, MNDFL and Inscape are popping up from Los Angeles to New York City, complete with calming water in the lobby and soft cushions to sit on for your session of calm.
Companies are also getting on board with the sounds of silence. At Buick, for example, it’s something they’ve come to prioritize as a brand, recognizing that their customer spends a substantial amount of time in their car, and needs that to be a place of refuge. “Noise is shown to be a major contributor to stress, and people in large cities are especially impacted,” says Chris Hay, a product director for the company. Their approach, which the brand calls “Quiet Tuning,” doesn’t just incorporate one simple tweak to their existing fleet. Take the new Enclave Avenir for instance. There’s active noise cancellation that helps reduce unwelcome engine sounds, plus triple-sealed doors that provide airtight seals on all four doors blocking unwanted road noise and ultimately minimizing leaks for a quieter interior. “The difference is really in how comprehensive our approach is,” he says.
“In today’s world, everything is fighting for our attention, and sometimes it’s necessary to disconnect from the outside world,” says Liz Teran, the Senior Manager of Consumer Marketing for Skullcandy. The brand, which includes an extensive offering of over-ear, noise canceling headphones, knows the importance of being able to completely disconnect. “Noise isolation helps you minimize those distractions and connect with what matters to you.” Granted, this technology isn’t something that just pops out of thin air. Skullcandy spends months (and even years) creating new updates, like those seen in their Hesh 3, using world class anechoic chambers and acoustic testing facilities to test countless iterations of materials and prototypes to optimize the level of noise isolation and achieve epic sound quality.
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So how can the average guy integrate more quiet time into his busy life? The answer is simple: schedule it like you would a meeting. Start with Marks’ suggested 10 to 20 minutes, and completely disconnect from the outside world. Put away the cell phone, and even better, turn it on airplane mode. Focus on your breath, and take some “you time.”
“It can be as simple as taking five deep breaths, with slow exhale,” she says. “Taking time to step back is vital. It can even be helpful to manage butterflies, especially before a join interview, presentation, or meeting with the boss.” AskMen