Nowhere in the 21st century seems to be free from the clatter and chatter of everyday life. Wherever you go, the background hum of traffic gives way to a musical backdrop in retail stores, clanking construction sites, or even just barking dogs. It all adds up to a cacophony that is impossible to turn off, and can be seriously counterproductive to our wellbeing.

In order to be able to oppose this unsettling noise, we need to know the downsides from our brain’s point-of-view. Once we understand how it affects our wellbeing, we can establish a way to counteract it and find a way to manage the side effects.

The Downsides of Constant Noise

Noise has long been recognised as an issue for continued good health and this Nautilus article explains that medical research has found out just how bad it can be for our brains and us. In this piece, it indicates that since the mid-20th century, researchers found that constant noise may be responsible for a number of diseases and problems. These can include high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep loss, and of course tinnitus.

Added to that, as a muscle, the brain needs to be kept active, but according to an analysis by Scientific American, for many of us, it cannot do that efficiently if it is forced to cope with external stimulus in the form of constant sound. The absence of noise reportedly helps your brain to gather information and reflect on your own mental and emotional states, resulting in a more balanced and less stressed state.

Noise from everyday traffic can be just as debilitating. An article from the APA has collated the results from studies showing how children’s learning has been affected by the din from both trains and planes. It has categorically been found that both long-term memory and reading comprehension skills in children subjected to the barrage of noise were significantly reduced.

Both of these studies are backed up by the World Health Organization’s 2011 report into the impact of noise that concludes that although it is a nuisance environmentally, the worrying aspect is that it can adversely affect the health of the public to a high degree.

Hospital wards have been found by Earth.com to be a particularly loud, not an ideal environment for patients. The constant noise can exacerbate any existing condition, as it can be difficult to get the required amount of sleep with machines beeping and trolleys clanging. Thankfully, science is finally catching up and new materials are being developed that can muffle sound but are also able to be cleaned sufficiently to preserve infection control. At least this is one place where hopefully the sounds of silence will be appreciated more, in an effort to improve the health of the patients.

The Benefits of Silence

A study from the previously mentioned Nautilus article, shows a considerable healing and relaxation factor when the brain is treated with silence, that was hitherto untested and wholly unexpected. In his 2006 study, physician and researcher Luciano Bernardi tested subjects with relaxing music, but discovered that the silent pauses between the tracks were far more relaxing and beneficial to the brain than any of the music that was used.

In 2013, a Duke University regenerative biologist by the name of Imke Kirste tested mice with various sounds and stimulatory noises, but again discovered that it was the silences that produced the biggest change. She found that when the mice were subjected to a few hours of silence every day, the part of the brain involved with formation of memory experienced significant cell development.

Evidence suggeststhat in order to promote our health and wellbeing we need to step away from the hubbub surrounding our everyday lives and find some peace and quiet. It may seem an impossible aim, but you can restore all the damage done to your brain by incessant noise. When you find that silence, your brain can restore some of it lost cognitive abilities, but how and where can you find it?

How to Find Healthy Silences

Searching out silence may be tricky in today’s world. You could try noise-cancelling headphones or sensory deprivation tanks, but it sometimes helps to get completely out of your normal environment to find that elusive peace and quiet.

Mindfulness, Meditation and Silence Retreats

In the first instance, to get that feeling of relaxation it may help to practise meditation in a quiet and tranquil location, if you can find it that is. If not, you may want to think about the possibilities of a wellbeing holiday.

Sometimes, the only way to truly rejuvenate and relax is to get away from everything. Take yourself out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life and try one of the silence retreats that aim to promote wellbeing and calmness. Every silent retreat is different, and they can be found all over the world.

The common theme for all of them, however, is that they give you a chance to not only recharge but to also explore a new and undiscovered destination.

All in all, today’s world is constantly fighting for our attention. It’s time to step back and ignore it for a change. Find a quiet space to just relax and rejuvenate, or better still try a wellbeing holiday as an option. Spend some time at one of the silence retreats, and take a break from the everyday stresses and constant noise. As Mozart said, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” Focus on yourself and your mental wellbeing, and feel the silence in between the noise.