Quiet – Why We Need It

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“God is silent. Now if only man would shut up.”
- Woody Allen  -

I had quite the summer, no need to get into it beyond stating this. My summer was stressful, and full of monumental life changes. Happily I can say that the challenges I faced have lead to good things and life is moving in all the right directions.

Keys for me in my process were the realizations that NOTHING is forever, LEARN TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT, TIME HEALS, ALL THINGS PASS and STOP PROJECTING THE FUTURE BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HIT YOU.   There was one thing that hit me that I wasn’t expecting, it was NOISE.

I became acutely aware of the fact that I need quite to be healthy……..I need quiet to rest, to work, to think and to heal. Quiet helps bring me peace and it helps with my inner focus.

Noise can affect your health,  it can play havoc with your productivity and sense of well-being. It a nut shell it can drive you crazy. If you are surrounded by noise and it bothers you – get rid of it or get out of it.

One day my sister sent me this perfect article from the New York Times by George Prochnik . I’m Thinking Please Be Quiet . George got me thinking that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to blog about my experience with Noise, why not?

The awareness of noise can creep up on you, so can the stress. With me it was tenants who lived below me in my lovely mid town triplex, surrounded my ravines and trails. They started off as a sweet young family with two young children and one on the way. Then, WHAM!!! Daddy lost his job and took to leaving the house every hour at night – slamming the heavy metal doors of our back stairway from 12 midnight to 3am , starting his car,locking and unlocking it ( you know the beep beep? Lord knows what he was up to) . My bedroom faced the rear parking area and was directly over their apartment’s back door. He also took to having the bedroom TV on from midnight to 7am and the living room t.v on from 7am to 12midnight. White noise would be a gentle way to put it,  I hear some people leave t.vs on to help them sleep. During the day he liked to play video games with his kids and friends, at night he liked sports like soccer and boxing  with raving crowds. Occasionally during the day he’d cheer with the crowd, get up and jump for joy or stomp in grief. I’m a freelancer and I work from home so he was pissing me off 24/7.

The noise issue got worse, his mother moved in to help part-time because his wife was having their baby any minute. She had a loud bellowing voice, and she played with the kids till midnight, chasing them around the apartment from around 10pm to midnight, slamming doors. yelling and cajoling. What a nice lady. Her daughter in law must have been flooded with hormones because she too became nocturnal and would take out the trash at 4am, she also wore her orthodic clogs as she paced the halls during the evening to do her chores.

Two weeks before the baby was born, that was it!!! I gave my notice. I don’t need to bore you with the elevated noise that resulted with a crying baby, two grandmothers on the scene, extended family visits at all hours and kids going stir crazy because no one was paying attention. I should add that the land lord and I had asked them to be quite..after a while you give up. It was 5 against 1 and I didn’t have a condo board to turn to.

I tried meditation, white noise machines, ear plugs, fans and moving to another bedroom. I wanted to work at staying and had hopes, but I was developing anxiety and severe sleep deprivation. All that in the face of being 50 years of age and well, let’s just say that comes with it’s own set of intrinsic sleep and over sensitivity issues.

So here’s what I’ve learned about noise, ways of coping  and why quiet is essential to our health and well-being:

1) We process noise as an auditory signal and too much of it creates flight or fight response which is stress, it raises cortisol levels and that weakens our adrenal system. Adrenal exhaustion takes months and months to heal.

2)  Even when we tune out noise, it works insidiously affecting our central nervous system, hormones and levels of anxiety.

3) Noises like constant air planes and traffic can effect how we learn, process and recall information, this is particularly true for children. Random unexpected noises are harder to adjust to than consistent steady ones, like crickets, waves, wind and rain. ( these actually help me sleep)

4) Health Canada is studying community noise and it’s effects on health. Looks like some regulations are in the midst. Check out this site, it’s too bad you can’t report to them like you can building without a permit It’s Your Health – Community Noise Annoyance

5) If noise is an issue at work you can get white noise MP3s as well as ear phones and head sets  that offer noise reduction. You  can even stream it from web sites like My Noise

6) White Noise Machines are a God Send, here’s a few I like , Walmart sells both models – one is by Marpac it’s a big seller for therapists and coaches: Marpac Noise Machine; the other is by Conair:  Conair Noise Machine.

7) You can make friends with noise, light noise that is. Some guided meditation experts advocate this for city dwellers. They suggest you listen and embrace noise into your consciousness and practice.

8) Here is a great blog builds a case for quiet, why it’s good for you and why  should not tolerate noise ( social or auditory) that bothers you or intrudes on your life: Zen Habits

9) I came across an actual notice that someone sent out to their apartment tenants with tips for noise reduction – it pretty much sums it up them all here:  Quiet

10)  Last but not least – the essentials for sleep sanitation from the National Sleep Foundation, noise is first on the list – The Sleep Environment .

In closing, don’t be hard on your self if noise is bothering you. You’re not neurotic or over sensitive. Noise pollution of any kind isn’t healthy, you need quiet to live, love, work and play.

 

 

 

 

Written by

I'm the founder of i-identify a Toronto based recruiting company. I deliver full-time and contract professionals who are leaders in their fields. Much of my work has focused in the tech sector, however; I have done some great work in retail, not-for-profit, consumer packaged goods and mining too. I've become a generalist who specializes in identifying great talent.

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