Give Your Brain a Break: Silence and Brain Health

How many times a day do you check your phone?

We’re not saying it’s bad. Too many outlets demonize technology without taking into account the benefits provided by social contact and connectivity. However, recent studies have begun to establish the connection between too much noise and too little recovery time, leading to more fatigue, and higher rates of stress and discomfort.

According to recent studies, there is such thing as too much stimulation. With all of the modern conveniences at our fingertips, the temptation to always move on to the next thing can start to override our physiological tendencies. If you’ve stayed up too late watching episodes of your favorite show on Netflix more often than you’d like, you’ll know what we’re talking about: the craving for the stimulus that starts to seem more important than things like, say, sleep. Or food. It doesn’t have to be quite as blatant, either, with more subtle manifestations like the need to constantly check your phone, or the feeling that you’ll receive an important work email the moment you close your browser.

Whatever it starts to look like, the end result is–functionally speaking–fairly simple: your brain just doesn’t have enough down-time. In layman’s terms, the inability to separate ourselves from stimuli is similar to listening to a leaky faucet, except on a constant basis. Time and time again, your body is forced to react on a subconscious level to a noise or light, keeping your body in a heightened state of awareness. On a chemical level, this includes the release of the stress hormone Cortisol, as well as physiological responses like higher blood pressure.

Always having something to react to starts to wear on an individual. This includes exposure to what would otherwise be considered “ambient” noise, including so-called “relaxing” music; a 2006 study found indications that silence was more physiologically relaxing than exposure to quiet, relaxing music. Theoretically, the only time your body will enter an authentic “relaxation” mode is in the absence of stimuli, not in the presence of so-called “relaxing” stimuli.

Though we here at South Denver Psychotherapy understand the many benefits that modern living provides, there is a lot to be said for looking to strike a balance. Giving yourself some time to not react to anything can have a host of benefits, both physical and psychological. If you’re stressed, fatigued, or feeling overwhelmed, it’s possible that one of the things you may need is a whole lot of nothing.

If you have any questions about methods to reduce stress and increase mindfulness, please don’t hesitate to contact South Denver Psychotherapy. Our counselors can help you achieve a healthy balance that lets you take advantage of the modern world, without having it take advantage of you.