The Method of Madness
Imagine the days before the internet, before television, even before radio. Imagine a time when the senses were not constantly inundated with competing sources of sound and imagery. That, my friend, is quiet. Our world is bombarded with all kinds of sensory information—music, video, talking, billboards, the noise of the city, laughter, alarms. But our brains need a break from even the most enjoyable stimuli. Studies indicate that even low levels of constant noise increase stress levels and impair our ability to function properly. A growing body of research also highlights the impact that too much visual input from sources like the internet has on problems like anxiety. It also disrupts our attention and learning ability.
Experiment with Quiet
Silence, however, has been found to have a greater impact on relaxation than even listening to relaxing music. Authors, artists, and many great thinkers have used the discipline of quiet time to develop ideas. Quiet time has actually been found to improve brain circulation and help grow new brain cells. Similarly, decreasing visual “noise” contributes to greater concentration
Finding quiet might seem impossible in a society where the advancement of sales, popularity and political agendas seems hinged on how much information can be pumped into our systems. But there are tools to help give your brain a break.
- Plan and prioritize. Put quiet time in your schedule. Prioritize it as an appointment and do not allow others to intrude upon it. Would you brush off a doctor’s appointment to have a last-minute lunch date? Then try giving your personal time the same importance. It’s for your own good.
- Do it naturally. Sometimes removing yourself from your typical environment surrounded by modern technology is your best bet. Reconnect with the outdoors. Head to a park or spend a little time in the backyard. Sit and focus on one leaf or close your eyes and listen to the simple sound around you.
- Do it spiritually. Your quiet time is your sacred space. You can view as a time to just listen inwardly, contemplate and reconnect spiritually. Find that higher focus to help you stay in tune.
- Take what you can get. Locate the unused moments in your life where you could be quiet. Use your ride to and from work to disconnect from the noise. Find an unoccupied space at work and sit for 5 minutes with your eyes closed. The little moments can add up.
Getting the quiet that your brain craves is more about a change in perspective. Modern society can make you feel that every free moment must be occupied with getting or disseminating information. We think we will fall behind or miss the next important thing if we do not constantly stay connected.
Sometimes we can grow so used to the noise around us that we no longer realize what we are constantly taking in. Begin by changing your mind about the importance of quiet. Then shhhhhh….
Contributed by Shani Bell, MAAT, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Dr. Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S