I’m reading a lot of books and articles these days about self-care. As expected, there is a ton of information out there about getting enough rest, vegetables, exercise, and socialization. But one thing that I have not yet come across in my studies is something I think is equally important, at least for some of us: silence.
Maybe not everyone needs it. Some people may thrive on noise and commotion. I am not one of them. As an introvert, I have found that I need at least one large chunk of quiet time every day. Silence is necessary for my mental health. When I don’t get it – when I am on an overscheduled family vacation or locked in a conference room with loud people all day – I become as cranky as an overstimulated toddler. I am quick to tears and likely to throw myself on the floor in a frustrated, whiny heap.
Look, you’re a grown woman, and I’m sure you already know how you feel about noise. If you have a soundtrack for every moment of your life and it’s working for you, rock on, sister!
But if you find yourself frazzled sometimes and you’re not sure why, maybe you should try turning off the noise for a while.
Sometimes we just don’t realize how noise is affecting us. Have you ever walked out of a boisterous restaurant and felt a wave of relief? You probably didn’t notice the sound while you were in the moment, other than having to lean over the table to hear some of the juicy details of your friends’ stories. Your body can adapt for a while. But when you walked outside and the doors swung shut and trapped all the noise behind you, you probably experienced a moment of pure relief that went all the way down to your toes. Ahhhhh…
The noise of our day-to-day lives may not be quite that loud, but it is still working on our nerves in the background. So what can we do about it?
I’m going to assume that if you work in a factory, airport, or preschool, that you are already using industrial noise protection. For the rest of us, here’s my non-clinical, friendly advice for making more quiet time in your life:
- Turn off the television when you are not actively watching it. This has the added advantage of reducing your exposure to bad news, infomercials, and reality tv stars.
- When buying new appliances, look for those that promise “quiet” operation. We replaced an old dishwasher and couldn’t believe the difference.
- Schedule quiet time – and don’t apologize for it! Do something in silence every day, whether that’s driving without the radio, taking a walk in nature, or retreating to your bedroom with a book.
- Invest in noise-canceling headphones for plane rides and particularly noisy office situations.
I would also recommend avoiding the vacuum at all costs and making margaritas in bulk to limit blender usage.
Again, you probably know your limits. But if you find yourself feeling fatigued and out of sorts for no reason, try turning off the noise for a while and see what happens.