I am finding more and more in my own life and in the lives of my clients a sense of deep exhaustion. I’ve been spending a lot of time on this reflection lately wondering what is the consistent link. What I always find funny about this is that it isn’t new knowledge, it isn’t something I haven’t reflected on before. And I found simply an acknowledgment that there is so much that is easy to get distracted from. Literally.
Have you ever noticed how little silence we have in our lives? It seems like we are inundated with sound, and stimulation designed to keep us enthralled. Everything around us notifies us to do something, to feel something. What I have found easy to forget is how often I can get pulled into life’s distractions and lose my balance. Often when I finally see it I am already speeding towards burn out without access to the breaks.
How does noise affect us?
Have you found that there are words that you just know? Their meaning is so obvious to us that the thought of looking it up in the dictionary is ridiculous. I was recently at a training where they encouraged us to look up every word of a statement. I was very surprised to see that every single word included meanings I had not seen or known. This got me thinking, what does noise even mean?
Now I don’t know about you but seasickness definitely brings with it a visceral response in my mind. Even Wikipedia describes a noise as “unwanted sound judged to be unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing.”
With this new way of discovering noise, it is now no surprise that noise is being linked in studies to pollution. Further to being pollution, excessive noise is linked to stress, high blood pressure, heart disease, tinnitus and loss of sleep.
If noise is pollution, silence is the cleaner
The World Health Organization (WHO) studied the health burden of noise in Europe in 2011. It studied 340 million residents and found that every year, due to the noise they were losing a million years of healthy life! They further concluded excessive noise to be the root cause of 3000 health disease deaths.
In Munich’s airport, Professor Gary W. Evans from Cornell University charted the effects of airport sounds on school children. He stated that children exposed to noise developed a stress response which actually caused them to ignore the noise. The children actually ignored harmful noise! He stated that “this study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise–even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage–causes stress and is harmful to humans.”
What is interesting is that it isn’t how loud something is that makes it an issue for us. In a 2011 publication from the American Psychological Association Bronzaft stated: “A dripping faucet may not measure that loud, but it sure can keep someone awake”.
I found it interesting to learn that scientists didn’t actually set out to study silence, actually, they used it as a baseline to study noise against. Then in 2006, Physician Luciano Bernardi studied the physiological effects of noise and music. He found that there was a powerful effect taking place between the noise. What he found was that the brain recognizes silence and responds powerfully. Further research at Duke University by Imke Kirste a regenerative biologist, discovered that two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus, the brain region related to the formation of memory, involving the senses.
Silence is an empty space. Space is the home of the awakened mind. – Buddha