I am mentally tired
Simplify Your Health (mental too)

How Noise Can Contribute to Mental Exhaustion

How often do you sit in the quiet?  Probably not often enough.

We’re surrounded by noise and have learned to be uncomfortable with silence, but it could be contributing to our mental exhaustion.

Everything our body sees, hears, feels, smells, touches, and thinks is processed through our brains.  That’s how we’re designed.  The brain is a processing center for all the things our bodies experience.  So it has to work every time we put information into it from the world our body lives in.

Seeing too much.  Hearing too much.  Even smelling too much can lead to sensory overload and tire out our already overworked brains.

But how do you cut back on the noise? 

First you have to notice where it’s coming from.  Then you have to make an effort to reduce the sound.

Background Noise

For the next few days, REALLY notice what sounds are in the background of your daily life.  Is the TV on even though nobody is actively watching it?  Are you “listening” to music while you’re doing other things like having a conversation or cleaning around the house?  Are you going to places where the music, conversations, and people moving around (clanking dishes in restaurants) seems really loud?

What’s running in the background of your day?

Conversations

We all need more actual, in real life human contact, but when you’re mentally exhausted and your ears need a break, it’s okay to ask questions and interact in other ways.

Instead of going down the hall at work to hold a meeting where people will make small talk for ten minutes, talk about issues with nothing really getting resolved, and then spend another ten minutes wrapping up, could you just send out an e-mail or post in a group online meeting instead?

Can you shut the door to your office for a day (or two) and let people know you’re working on a project and can’t be disturbed?  Or better yet, be honest that you need a sound break and you’re taking a few days to work in a quiet space without distractions.

Once (or twice) a week can you designate time each evening for absolute quiet time with no phones, no TVs, no music playing, no deep discussions etc? 

Notifications and Alerts

If your phone is constantly telling you about e-mails, new posts in groups, new comments, etc. and those aren’t critical situations, then simply turn the notifications off.  You can still check in on all of those things, but you won’t constantly be on edge waiting for that ding. 

Intrusive Noises

We all can’t live in a perfectly peaceful little bubble (dammit!).  There are going to be sounds outside our control like construction next to your office, the neighbor’s dog barking at midnight right by your bedroom, or trucks going by on the highway.  If we can’t control it or change it then we have to concentrate on how we can live with it. 

At work I run a fan, facing away from me.  It has nothing to do with air flow, unless it’s a really hot day or I’m really working and walking around a lot.  I have it for the white noise.  It helps drown out the other noise.

I also sleep with a white noise machine on my nightstand and have a white noise app on my phone for when I’m traveling.  It’s a very soothing sound that really has no description, because it doesn’t really sound like anything in particular.  It’s just a great buffer to take the edge off of other noises.

Simple Ways to find More Quiet

Drive without listening to a podcast or the radio

Practice beginning and end of the day mindfulness  … click here to learn how

Suggest and encourage quiet time in your home on a daily basis.  It will feel very strange and VERY quiet at first, but you can increase the time a little every few days to get everyone accustomed to a more calm space.

As with most things we work on while simplifying our lives, awareness is the first step.  Notice the sounds around you and work on changing your environment so it’s more peaceful and can give your brain a break.


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