Uncovering The Mental Health Benefits Of Silence
Can you hear that? The constant noise of the traffic outside, the non-stop pinging of your phone, the noise from the TV show your partner is watching? Can you hear that?
The fact of the matter is that we’re constantly surrounded by sounds and background noises – whether it be the honking of the cars, people talking around us, the hum of the air conditioner, or the radio in the kitchen.
Sometimes, we choose to fill the quiet moments we get with sounds. We play audiobooks while on our way back home after work, we play white noise while we try to sleep, or we jam to our favorite playlist when we feel unmotivated.
With this constant need to fill the silence, we’ve forgotten how important silence is to us or how to enjoy the silent moment we get throughout the day.
In this blog, I’ll be explaining the wonderful yet hidden benefits of silence, not only for our physical health but also for our mental and spiritual health. We’ll begin by understanding why silence is golden.
Why Is Silence Good For Us?
Daily, how many sounds do you hear? Ever noticed?
Our lives are full of noise – from the environment to the hustle and bustle of our work life – we are never alone with silence. Distractions have become even more common since we’ve moved our workspace to our homes.
Even the sounds we are unaware of can impact our wellness. Our ears never sleep, they are constantly on alert. This sensitive organ is active even when we are asleep. The brain receives sound signals and activates the stress response in the amygdala, which releases cortisol. Increased cortisol means an increase in our blood pressure and heart rate.
So, to counter these side-effects of noise, we need the simplicity of silence.
In a study published in the journal Heart, it was found that “two minutes of silence can be even more relaxing than listening to relaxing music.”
Not only for our physical wellness but our mental wellness, silence is golden. Silence allows us to process the many thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we might ignore otherwise. In a 2013 study (on mice), it was found that silence helps in the growth of brain cells.
Well, silence is good for us but why? Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of silence on our mind, body, and spirit.
What Are The Benefits Of Silence?
“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu
We are busy in our lives, I understand. Finding moments of silence can be difficult. Most of us don’t get to enjoy the silence as much as we wish to. We are constantly ‘on’, thanks to our digital presence.
Even the constant chatter from our family cannot help us find the quiet moments we are looking for. This all increases the mental clutter and adds to our frustration and anger.
For many people, silence can be uncomfortable and scary, especially if you struggle with anxiety or anxiety-related disorders. Silence, in such cases, can increase stress and racing thoughts. Some people even struggle with a fear of silence. If you struggle with any of these situations, it is recommended you speak to a professional beforehand.
Other benefits of silence on our mind, body, and spirit can be:
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
Did you know that silence can help you lower your blood pressure? A noisy environment increases heart rate and blood pressure but in a study, it was found that two minutes of silence can help you reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
2. Improves Sleep
External noise can disrupt your sleep schedule, even white noise. While some people may benefit from white noise while sleeping, some may not. Silence during the night, with minimal distractions and noise, can help promote better sleep.
Not only at night but silent moments during the day can also help you improve your sleep quality and lower the chance of insomnia.
2. Improves Memory
Taking 10-15 minutes of your time daily to sit in silence can also help you improve your memory, focus, and concentration. In a study on patients with amnesia, it was found that a 10-minute silence boosted memory from 14% to 49%. In the same study on healthy people, it was found that silence improved memory from 10% to 30%.
3. Lowers Stress
We all feel overwhelmed from time to time, especially if we’re dealing with some heavy emotions. In such cases, unpleasant noises can disrupt our body’s natural process and increase cortisol, adrenaline, and mental stress.
Silence can help you reduce the cortisol, adrenaline, and blood pressure levels in your body and reset your natural process.
4. Promotes Self-Awareness
Silence can also help you improve your self-awareness. When you spend time with yourself, in silence, you observe the little things around you and in you. The way the leaves on the trees sway, the way your breath moves in your body, the way your thoughts form, etc.
It also gives you a chance to accept your thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they are without judgment.
5. Promotes Self-Reflection
Silence allows you to self-reflect which goes way beyond introspection. It allows you to connect yourself with the world. Maybe after sitting in silence, you’ll see how you can mend broken relationships, what you need to self-improve, or which career path to choose.
6. Calms Racing Thoughts
Racing thoughts are a symptom of anxiety and while silence may look like an opportunity for these thoughts to wander around, it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s possible to use silence to calm your mind.
In the comfort of silence, you can take time to slow down and observe the little things around you. You don’t have to necessarily engage with your thoughts as they pop up.
7. Boosts Creativity
Silence can improve the flow of your creative juices too! When you embrace silence, you embrace the company of yourself. Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton, both liked to work in silence and solitude.
Silence can help you touch base with yourself and your thoughts that can help you make room for creative and unique ideas, even think out-of-the-box solutions for problems.
8. Improves Decision-Making
When you’re constantly surrounded by noise, it may become difficult to make smart decisions as your brain is being stimulated with so many sounds. Five minutes of silence can help you clear your mind and restore your decision-making skills. It can give you a different perspective on how to approach a problem too.
9. Teaches You Patience
Constant background noise can make us miss out on the power of silence. In these times, we all are struggling with frustration and anxiety. Learning to embrace silence can help you cultivate patience and calmness.
When you take regular silence breaks, your tolerance against impatient behavior is more likely to grow. When you know how to take advantage of the silence, you’ll become more patient in activities you previously didn’t have the patience for such as being stuck in a traffic jam or waiting in long queues.
Ways You Can Embrace & Enjoy Silence
Embracing silence is not as hard as you think! Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Walk: Walking solo in nature can give you a chance to connect with yourself. Not only do you get physical exercise but also some mental benefits!
2. Meditate: One of the best ways to cultivate the power of silence is to meditate. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. Just sit in silence for 10 minutes with your thoughts.
3. Pause: Pauses are mini-meditations that can help you center your mind throughout the day. Take a break from your task, close your eyes, and let go of the worries for a while.
4. Give Yourself 5: Giving yourself five minutes of silence as you wake up in the morning is also a great way to cultivate silence and embrace the benefits.
5. Go Digital-Free: On the weekends and your days off, try to leave your digital presence behind. You can look at these tips here to unplug and unwind.
5. Do Yoga: Yoga is another great way to center your mind and practice mindfulness. In silence, practice simple yoga poses to help you settle your mind and relieve stress.
“Listen to the silence. It has so much to say.” – Rumi
Remember the saying, “Silence is golden.” Silence is helpful when it comes to your psychological and spiritual health. With the constant disruptions we face in our daily lives, embracing the power of silence can help us calm our inner turmoil and reduce stress.
It’s not hard to enjoy silence and solitude. I hope learning the benefits of silence and tips to embrace silence will help you bring happiness and peacefulness to your life.
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