Have you ever felt like your brain was a computer with too many inputs? Modern life can be really loud, and we need silence to counteract the noise. Silence is important for our physical health, as a mental reset, and to boost our creativity and problem-solving capabilities.
On an average day, my brain processes so much information:
- That book I’m reading every morning for spiritual growth;
- Instagram posts I’ve scrolled;
- A recipe I skimmed on Pinterest while planning meals for this week;
- The latest podcast or audiobook;
- Several running conversations on Voxer or via text message with friends;
- A host of email – personal, work-, and volunteer-related;
- Lengthy conversations with each of my three kids about the dream they had last night, what I’m packing for their lunch today, or why they can’t watch TV right now;
- And the list goes on, right?!
Those are direct inputs, but that doesn’t even take into account the other things running through the background of our days – pings on our devices, a children’s program playing in the next room, traffic outside, sirens on ambulances careening past our homes or offices.
Just reading over those lists makes me to feel like I need to pause for a few deep breaths.
In 1984 – less than forty years ago – only eight percent of American families had a computer in their home. By 2019, over eighty percent of us actually carried a computer in our pocket in the form of a smart phone.
This constant information is relatively new for us, in the course of human history. Our bodies are not yet accustomed or adapted to this much information and noise. It’s not good for us. In fact, studies show that there are health benefits to silence, such as lowered blood pressure, an immune boost, lowered cortisol (stress) levels, and more.
Do you remember Tracy, whom I introduced you to last week on the blog? She is a middle school art teacher, and she said that at the end of a workday, her ears are literally ringing from the constant noise in her classroom. Silence is the antidote that both prepares her for the day ahead and resets her mind after a long day of teaching.
Silence also gives our brain the time and space to think without interruption. When we let our mind wander, rather than keeping it constantly engaged with auditory input, we become free to engage creatively in ways that help us problem solve.
Our physical health, mental health, and creativity will all benefit if we can embrace quiet. We need silence to counter the constant noise and input from our daily lives. How can we make space for silence? Here are three simple tips:
- Find a spot in your day when you’re already alone. Are you the first one awake in your house? Do you enjoy the luxury of an uninterrupted shower? Do you commute to work? Are you the last one to go to bed at night? Instead of filling all of your alone time with music or a podcast, take five minutes to turn everything off and enjoy the silence.
- Take a walk sometime during your day, and leave the ear buds at home. Even a walk around the block can act as a mental reset.
- If you watch television or scroll your phone before bed, choose just one night this week to engage in an alternate activity. Turn off your screen and read a book, work on a craft project, do some stretching, or chat with your partner.
Is silence a regular practice for you? If so, how do you implement it in your life? If it’s new for you, what one practice will you try to incorporate this week?
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