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Posts Tagged ‘Noise’

Dark snowy night with trees covered in snow
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One of my favorite things about the winter are the snowy days and nights. I’ll put on my cross-country skis and go out for a few hours, not see a car in sight, and appreciate the silence. I feel sometimes like I’m in the wilderness during a snowstorm, and there is something very relaxing about it. The ephemeral darkness and silence of a snowstorm should be taken advantage of, as these qualities have health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Too much noise and light can be detrimental to our health and well-being.

Noise pollution is common if you live in the cities or suburbs, or next to a busy road if you live in a rural area. Noise comes from traffic, sirens, industry, construction work, and can come from our own homes including our TVs, phones, radios, appliances, etc. What are some of the health consequences of being exposed to too much noise? Research suggests that too much noise can promote hearing loss, tinnitus, and hypersensitivity to sound. It can also cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep disturbances, stress, mental health and cognition problems, including memory impairment and attention deficits, childhood learning delays, and low birth weight.

Conversely, there are many health benefits to silence; it lowers your blood pressure, decreases your heart rate, steadies your breathing, reduces muscle tension and increases focus and cognition. Silence can also help us have more profound thoughts, stronger relationships, increased creativity, and improved communication skills.

What can you do? Try to sit in silence and practice mindfulness one minute per day and build up to twice a day once you are comfortable. Some people are really challenged by this, especially if they are used to noise, or being on their phones. Extroverts might have a harder time with this than introverts. Eventually, build up to 15 minutes per day, and you will feel calmer and more relaxed. You could also try going for a walk alone without music, staring out the window and watching birds, or drinking your morning coffee or tea without your phone, TV or other devices.

Author: Dan Remley PhD, MSPH Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu

Reviewer: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60@osu.edu

Sources:

Stephanie Dutchen. Harvard Health. The Effects of Noise on Health. Accessed on 12/12/22 at https://hms.harvard.edu/magazine/viral-world/effects-noise-health

Cleveland Clinic. Health Essentials. An Ode to Silence: Why you Need Silence in Your Life. Accessed on 12/12/22 at https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-you-need-more-silence-in-your-life/

Patrice Powers-Barker. An introduction to Mindfulness. Access on 12/12/22 at ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

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