Over the last 2 weeks, we have discussed how sound can be a stressor, and how it can be damaging to health and wellbeing. This week we discuss how to reduce the harmful effects of sound, allowing the body and brain stillness.
Silence is golden
Silence is important so the brain can rest and not have to interpret the constant sounds that surround us. A few minutes of quiet allows the brain a chance to focus and reflect. It gives you more space to think and helps you to return to tasks energized and more focused.
It is important to make time to sit quietly, meditate or go for a peaceful walk. Even two minutes of silence can reduce blood pressure and improve blood circulation in the brain. It also lowers blood cortisol levels and adrenaline.
Switching off Sound
Avoid white noise machines or plugged in devices as much as possible. Turn off the television and radio. Read the news rather than watching it so that you can choose what interests you and avoid having to process unwanted information.
Turn off electrical devices when they are not in use. This removes the constant hum that is produced. Avoid distractions and interruptions by turning off notifications or leaving your phone on silent as much as possible.
Don’t sleep with a fan on in your bedroom if it can be avoided. If it can’t then don’t sleep directly under it.
Binaural beats therapy
Binaural beats are considered auditory illusions. Tones at different frequencies are played at the same time. The difference between them is not more than 30 Hz, with one sound played in the left ear and another in the right ear. They create the same brainwave pattern experienced during meditation, but much more quickly.
Much like meditation, binaural beats can reduce anxiety, increase focus and concentration, lower stress levels, increase relaxation and improve moods.
Using an app on your phone or YouTube, binaural beats can be used first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Use only airtube headphones or good quality noise-cancelling headphones that are wired, not wireless.
Not all noise is bad
Vocal toning (using vowel sounds or humming on the full exhalation of the breath) or guided meditations can help you to relax and find stillness.
Singing and humming is another great way to relax. They vibrate the sinuses and produce nitric oxide which is a natural vasodilator. They also activate the vagus nerve and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
As opposed to the sympathetic nervous system which increases heart rate and blood pressure during a fight or flight response, the parasympathetic nervous system controls the body at rest and is responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” functions. When it is activated, it produces a calm and relaxed feeling in the mind and body.
Come back next week as we begin to look at the last in our series of six stressors, water. We will look at how water can be toxic, the effect it has on health, and strategies we can take to reduce the toxic load.