Wholeness Healing Today

Silence Good for the Brain and for your Mental Health

Take a moment to close your eyes and check into your body. How high is your stress level in this moment? Give it a number from 1-10 with 10 being the highest level of stress. Now do this simple exercise. Listen to the sounds in the room. Listen to the sounds that are close by and now listen to the sounds that are far away. Take some deep breaths and be with the sounds.

Now fall beneath the sounds to the quiet that is there. Sit in this silence for a moment.
Now check back into the body. What level of stress is your body right now? Did your stress level go down with that simple exercise?

Quiet – silence. Is that something you allow yourself the luxury of experiencing? Does your brain receive times of silence? Do you sometimes immerse yourself in quiet? Did you know that listening to silence changes our brains?

Silence impacts the brain. Research has shown that periods of silence or reduced sensory input can impact the brain and mental well-being. It impacts our stress reduction, improves cognitive function, gives our brain the opportunity to reorganize, enhances memory and reduces mental fatigue. Maybe there is a reason to bring more silence and less “noise” into our lives.

Silence reduces our stress load. Exposure to constant noise can lead to chronic stress. The absence of external distractions can lead to a decrease in the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Silence provides a break from stress, giving the brain time to rest and recover.

Some studies have suggested that silence improves or enhances cognitive function. This is seen through improved concentration, creativity, and problem-solving abilities as silence gives the brain the opportunity to focus without distractions. Participants who sign up for extended silence (such as participating in a silent retreat) often report improved concentration and a heightened ability to pay attention to inner thoughts and feelings.
Silence may promote brain plasticity which is the ability of the brain to reorganize and adapt. It is believed that a silent environment encourages the growth of new neurons and neural connections. Extended periods of silence or consistent practices of meditation can lead to changes in the brain’s structure and function, which also promotes neural growth and adaptability.

Silence is crucial for memory consolidation. The brain processes and stores information better when it is not bombarded with external stimuli.

Mental fatigue can also be alleviated and prevent cognitive overload when we give the brain a change to rest and recover.

If you are person that doesn’t get a lot of quiet or silence in your daily life, you might want to structure some quiet.

Eliminate stimuli in the mornings – avoid checking your phone, turning on the TV or listening to a Podcast for the first 10 minutes.

Allow quiet for your morning commute, using it for reflection or mindfulness. Drive in silence, paying attention to your surroundings.

Use your break at work to sit and breathe and rest the mind. Even five minutes can recharge and clear your mind. Use this time to close your eyes, focus on breath, or step outside for fresh air.

Enjoy your lunch in silence – no phone, videos, or reading. Instead focus on the quality of the food you are eating, the texture of the food, the taste of the food, and how hungry you are in that moment.

Incorporate some nature time into your daily life. Spending time in nature is great way to experience silence and connect with the environment. Leave your phone behind and immerse in nature. These are called Nature Baths and often prescribed for mental health reasons in the Eastern World.

Set up evening wind down times when you spend a few minutes in silence to relax your mind and prepare for sleep. Avoid screens and engage in calming activities such as reading a book or taking a warm bath or practicing gentle stretching.

Incorporating silence into your day is a personal practice and the duration and frequency can vary depending on your preferences and schedules. Experiment with some of these options, see how it feels, and if you want, make it a personal ritual to help you achieve a sense of inner calm and balance.

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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.


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