For a moment, imagine living in a place where you only hear sounds that bring you joy, that help you relax, that bring pleasure to your heart and ears.
Now, back to reality.
Lately, I have been annoyed with all the noises humans commonly make. I have been asking myself: What sounds would you avoid if you had the choice?
Consider yourself lucky if you live in a quiet place, such as the woods or the mountains. You can enjoy the beautiful, relaxing sounds made by nature: birds singing and chirping and tree branches falling during the change of seasons. Or the sound of the ocean or a creek nearby.
But if you live in an active community, as I do, enjoying the peaceful outdoors becomes almost impossible.
It’s not like I have become a hermit, but I have been through stressful times in the past three years, and, like so many of us, I’m still healing. Even when going for a beautiful outdoor walk, which should be relaxing, I feel the stress from the sounds of urban noises like lawnmowers, air conditioning units, car alarms, horns in traffic, sirens from emergency vehicles, road work, and many others. And as the environmental sounds get louder, so does my stress level.
Is it wrong to wish for a quieter world?
I’ve also noticed that when I’m on my laptop in my favorite coffee shop trying to get some work done, those unwanted, non-stop beeps from notifications, such as texts and emails from other people, can make it challenging to pay attention and complete my work. However, the big issue is not just the environmental sounds that are distracting us. According to an article in Medical News Today, these undesirable sounds can actually raise stress levels and cause sleep and hearing problems.
Some may say, “Why don’t you just turn off your notifications?” Well, that’s not always easy. Some of us have family and friends we can’t just ignore or who need an immediate response to their messages. When I don’t answer fast enough, I have family members who think I’m either mad at them or ignoring them because I have better things to do.
And another example: I was on the treadmill at my local fitness center for my morning run the other day. I was having a great time, in my zone, enjoying my workout when suddenly I heard a loud shrill and immediately stopped my workout, as did many others working out beside me. We all thought some emergency was taking place. But it turned out to be two ladies looking at something on their phones—it was like they were having their own party, but it totally broke me out of my workout zone. When I looked at my watch, my heart rate was more elevated than usual.
How to create a calming space in a distracting world
In a loud and busy world, I believe it is essential for all of us to find ways to cope when we’re under stress. While we cannot control or stop the noise that’s happening out there, we have the power to control how we react to these distractions that constantly trespass on our well-being.
In our dynamic society, taking the time to relax and unwind must be absolute. As a solution, my husband and I have created a quiet space in our home decorated with calming colors called the “Zen Den.”
It is the perfect place to practice mindfulness and turn off our phones to avoid interruptions from audible alerts on our devices. In our distraction-free area, no internet or cell phones are allowed. This is also where we keep our library so we can read and relax.
There have been multiple studies that have proven how mindfulness can help lessen depression symptoms. Finding the time and tips that can reduce our stress levels and increase our focus and awareness is essential to improving our overall well-being. It’s the first step in becoming a healthier you.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ~ Ram Dass