If you talk to anyone, they will inevitably mention at some point that they are “stressed out.” Be it from work, school, or daily life… we are all stretched to our limits mentally on a daily basis. But we fail to realize that it isn’t necessarily any of these things that are wreaking havoc on us mentally or physically. There is an overlooked underlying cause that is contributing to the stress we experience daily, and it is that of environmental noise or low-intensity noise. Sadly, it is stressing every one of us out.
Did you know, #NoisePollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to our health, 2nd only to #AirPollution?— Clean Cities (@cities_clean) July 2, 2022
It causes everything from sleep disturbance, to cardiovascular disease
Read more about the burden of disease from environmental noise👇https://t.co/XCJCfrhz1k
“Noise” refers to any unwarranted, unpleasant sounds that grate on our nerves, whether we know it or not. These environmental assaults on our senses are distinguishable from the pleasant sounds that often counter noise pollution, such as the voices of those we love, the sound of rain falling on a rooftop, or birds chirping. Unfortunately, low-intensity noise pollution is part of living in an urban environment and is experienced daily in places like New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami. At least with prolonged exposure to loud noises often associated with industrial jobs or those who play in bands, we understand that the exposure can eventually lead to hearing loss. Still, exposure to “noise pollution,” even at incredibly low decibels, can lead to serious health issues, and those living in dense urban areas are drowning in it.
Urban noise pollution is getting worse. Wildfires are growing more severe. And climate change is disrupting the timing of natural events and the life cycles of plants and animals all over the world. https://t.co/TDEXPsB1ul— Scientific American (@sciam) February 17, 2022
These low-frequency enemies come in the form of cars, trains, or aircraft, to hours of watching TV, listening to music or podcasts, or the obnoxious ringing and dinging of cellphones that are never more than an arm’s length away from us. In fact, they often never leave the palm of our hands or the inside of our pockets. But we must find ways to find some peace and absolute quiet as it can make a huge difference in our overall well-being and, to some degree, our physical health.
Many studies have been conducted on the subject. One of them, titled “Noise pollution: a modern plague,” was published in the Southern Medical Association Journal in 2007. The study’s findings stated: “The potential health effects of noise pollution are numerous, pervasive, persistent, and medically and socially significant. Noise produces direct and cumulative adverse effects that impair health and that degrade residential, social, working, and learning environments.” Essentially, our hearing is never turned off, so our ears are aware of noise 24/7, even in our sleep. Hearing alarming sounds in our sleep leads to sleep disturbance, which increases stress levels and can negatively affect our health and well-being, as sleep is meant to repair our bodies, not further stress them out.
According to Dr. Wolfgang Babisch, a lead researcher in the field of environmental noise, “The evidence is increasing that ambient noise levels below hearing damaging intensities are associated with the occurrence of metabolic disorders (Type 2 diabetes), high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary heart diseases (including myocardial infarction), and stroke.” My goodness.
While this may seem dire and inevitably lead to our demise, there is a simple solution. For example, time spent in complete silence can boost one’s cognitive functioning and even reduce cortisol levels. A 2006 study showed that two minutes spent in silence throughout the day lowered blood pressure and heart rates even more than time spent listening to “relaxing” music, which is not surprising.
If you’re a nature enthusiast as I am, a walk through some nature trails or even a stroll on the beach “unplugged” can completely reset your cognitive functions, plus you get the bonus of exercise, which is proven to help us relieve stress.
We can even turn our homes into sanctuaries simply by turning off the lights, the TV, and the stereo. We can put the tablets and smartphones down for a while. By not turning the radio on, we can achieve serenity in our vehicles while driving.
You can also plan a visit to Watoga State Park in Virginia, where cellphones are not allowed because of the park’s proximity to a large telescope.
The “Silence is golden” rule no longer applies to keeping our mouths closed. It may make a positive impact on our physical and mental health as well.