Health. The power of silence

Sound notifications on the phone, dog barking, video game jingles, drill at the neighbour’s, leaf blower in the street, engines whirring at the green light, horn, etc. The world in which we live is nothing but cacophony.

The observation is not new. As early as 2010, the World Health Organization considered noise to be “an underestimated threat”, responsible for short-term and long-term health problems. Ten years later, a report by the European Environment Agency concluded that noise is a persistent and widespread problem in Europewhere at least one person in five is constantly exposed to sound levels considered harmful to health.

“The good news is that researchers are working hard to find a solution,” ensures the New Scientist in the main article of the file on the cover of its edition dated August 13. The weekly states:

“The idea is to make our environments less noisy, but also to understand the most beneficial aspects of quiet times and determine ways to achieve results.”

Among the tracks advanced to reduce the noise volume of the cities: the installation of an anti-noise surfacing on the roads, as well as “barriers of greenery” which stifle the sounds. A ban on snowblowers came into effect this year in Washington, for example, and San Francisco has implemented a system of “quiet hours”, during which excessive noise can be punished by a fine.

Float bubble, meditation, walk in the park

But what interested the journalist the most were the techniques and methods for reserving moments of calm – such as the “floating bubble”, the equivalent of the sensory isolation box (a kind of large bathtub), meditation or walks in a park – and the research that is beginning to show their beneficial effects.

Early studies show, for example, that complete silence is not necessary to reduce stress. Another element: you have to want to be in a quiet environment, otherwise the absence of noise can be a source of anxiety for some.

Additionally, the work ofEric Pfeifer, researcher at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences in Freiburg, Germany, “indicate a state [des volontaires] more relaxed and less stressed after sessions [dans une chambre sourde ou dans un jardin au calme] that last less than ten minutes, which is why he is convinced that having peace for a few minutes in a bathroom can help manage physiological reactions to our deafening world.”

“No need to spend hours without noise to observe benefits, he says. It is probably better to have a few minutes of silence frequently than a longer silence once a week.” And he concludes:

“Our sound stimulation is so excessive that finding a few quiet moments during the day and enjoying them can really be a game-changer.”

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Health. The power of silence

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