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HITTING REFRESH FOR OUR BRAINS

Have you ever noticed when you wake up early, not look into your phone and just sit by the window with a cup of coffee – the day just seems to go better? A quiet evening by the fireplace sketching away in your favorite sketch book or spending downtime sowing seeds in starter pots for the season can bring a sense of coziness with it. That is because of the silence that accompanies it. If we were to ask anyone today what is the most relaxing time of their day, most people would choose a time they spend in silence. Over the years while running a rat race to keep up with the world, we have forgotten the importance of noiselessness. Whether it is attending a work call while driving or listening to a podcast while doing the dishes, we are so obsessed with being productive.

Does this sound familiar? Isn’t this how most of our lives look. While a few (or most) details might vary, we still spend a day full of noise and routine without applying brakes. We want to perform well in our careers, care for those we love and keep the ball rolling in our daily lives. We do take breaks as we need, but even those breaks are filled with noise. Our brains are running overtime to keep up with our lives. We have forgotten that silence can help us remain productive and move through life in good physical and mental health. Here’s the thing – Being in peace and quiet is all about the noise in our heads.

Being in silence is the most understated way of recharging our mind and body. With the hectic and stressful moments we deal with every day, spending sometime in silence can be really beneficial. This could mean doing mundane tasks without music or podcast, staring outside the window (I promise your neighbor will not find it creepy!), go for a walk without air pods, eat a meal without a screen – whatever you can do in silence. Let’s see how something as simple being quiet can be so beneficial.

Aside from having physical benefits like lowering blood pressure, improving insomnia and reducing cortisol, there are numerous mental benefits as well. Spending sometime in silence helps improve concentration and focus, stimulates brain growth and creativity, encourages mindfulness. How does this happen?

According to nautil.us “Studies of human physiology help explain how an invisible phenomenon can have such a pronounced physical effect. Sound waves vibrate the bones of the ear, which transmit movement to the snail-shaped cochlea. The cochlea converts physical vibrations into electrical signals that the brain receives. The body reacts immediately and powerfully to these signals, even in the middle of deep sleep. Neurophysiological research suggests that noises first activate the amygdalae, clusters of neurons located in the temporal lobes of the brain, associated with memory formation and emotion. The activation prompts an immediate release of stress hormones like cortisol. People who live in consistently loud environments often experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.”

Spending time in silence can help produce new brain cells.  Spending two hours of silence a day produced new cell creation in the hippocampus, the main part of the brain associated with memory. The default mode network of the brain is activated when we engage in what scientists refer to as “self-generated cognition,” such as daydreaming, meditating, fantasizing about the future or just letting our minds wander. Preliminary findings suggested that silence could be therapeutic for conditions like depression and Alzheimer’s, which are associated with decreased rates of neuron regeneration in the hippocampus. The brain can restore its finite cognitive resources when we’re in environments with lower levels of sensory input than usual. In silence ― for instance, the quiet stillness you find when walking alone in nature ― the brain can let down its sensory guard, so to speak. Letting down your brain’s sensory guard can help immensely with other functions such as internalizing and evaluating information, improving memory, and recovering cognitive abilities.

This isn’t to say that everyone needs to sit in silence for 2 hours every day. No one has that kind of time on hand. But it is important to spend a few minutes without any noise before our day starts and after our day ends. It can be very beneficial for an overall health in the long term.

Sources:

https://www.iahe.com/docs/articles/Science_Says_Silence_Is_Much_More_Important_To_Our_Brains_Than_We_Think.pdf

https://www.healthline.com/health/mind-body/physical-and-mental-health-benefits-of-silence

https://www.inc.com/betsy-mikel/your-brain-benefits-most-when-you-listen-to-absolutely-nothing-science-says.html

https://holdsworthcenter.org/blog/benefits-of-silence/

Blog Image Credit:  Ermal Tahiri from Pixabay

 

 

Written By Kritika Rao

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