I had no idea how much I crave silence until my mom needed someone to stay with her recently for a few weeks for medical reasons.
She’s a TV game show junkie, so the Game Show Network is on continually. I’m pretty sure we watched every episode of The Match Game from 1978 and nearly every episode of Family Feud from the Steve Harvey era.
After the first three or four days of constant dings, whistles, buzzers and screaming contestants, I was about to lose my mind. What is the deal with contestants screaming every answer?
I wasn’t trying to watch these shows. In fact, I was trying to work, but I couldn’t concentrate long enough to do so because I was pulled out of the moment so often. By the end of the first week, I had to find a solution.
Enter noise-canceling headphones, a white-noise app and complete bliss.
But I’m not alone in my need to block out external noise.
Belle Cooper wrote a fascinating article called The Power of Silence: Why You Need Less Noise for Work and Your Health.
She points to research that says our brains are always working, “even when we’re not actively engaged in a conscious activity.”
She goes on to say, “Science suggests when we do engage our brain in a conscious effort, it actually overrides the brain’s ‘default mode,’ temporarily diverting resources to what we want to do. Complete silence, then, allows the brain to return to its normal default state and continue its processing.”
Is white noise as beneficial as silence? I have my doubts. But I find it soothing and it allows me to concentrate. It also brings my stress level down to zero.