Why You Should Embrace Silence (and How to Do It)

I remember a few years back when the very first thing I would do in the morning would be to head to the gym for an early morning workout while I listened to music on my earbuds.

Then, while getting ready for work, I would listen to podcasts. On my walk to work, I would listen to more podcasts. At work, I would converse with coworkers or listen to music, and then on my walk home from work, I would make phone calls to catch up with family and friends.

Oh, and then when I returned home from work, I would automatically turn the TV on for background noise. Why? Well, why not? I swear I was constantly listening to something, which never left any time for me to embrace and sit in the silence.

The other day I was walking on Chicago’s lakefront trail and I removed my AirPods and just listened to the sounds of nature on the lakefront. The waves gently crashing up against the walking path, beachgoers splashing in the water, and other walkers and bike riders talking with one another. It…was…lovely.

It got me thinking: Why do we not embrace silence more often? Are there any benefits of being silent? What about the benefits of being quiet? Is that even a thing?

person being silent in nature

Silence benefits

Silence hosts a variety of benefits both mentally and physically. Mentally, silence allows us to daydream and self-reflect. It gives us time to turn down any inner or outer noise and increases our awareness. Most importantly, silence cultivates mindfulness and helps us to appreciate and recognize the present moment.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, moments of silence can help us tap into different parts of our nervous system that help us shut down our bodies’ physical response to stress. 

Cleveland Clinic also mentions some of the other physical benefits of being silent, which include decreased heart rate, an increase in cognition and focus, lower blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, and steady breathing.

Silence sounds simple, right? It does but for many — myself included — it can be a challenge.

Why silence can be a struggle

If sitting in silence is a struggle for you, you’re not alone. The Cleveland Clinic notes how many Americans use external stimuli to distract themselves from personal feelings or thoughts they deem uncomfortable. (Oh, hey, right here.)

Culturally, Westerners tend to be less adept at managing boredom through other creative pursuits or meditation practices and are more concerned about FOMO. (Ummm, what about the JOMO?)

Another reason silence is a struggle for so many people is partly that we’re not used to it, says Marlena Del Hierro, a licensed professional counselor and certified Clini-Coach®. 

“We are bombarded with sounds all day long,” she says. “From the alarm in the morning, our phones buzzing and ringing, and the TV on in the evening. Even the sounds of others too. People talking to us and also our own voices that live in our heads.” 

Del Hierro believes silence may also be scary for some because then there’s no distraction from our own thoughts.

“From a psychological perspective, silence allows time for introspection and reflection,” shares Daniel J. Paulus, PhD, PLLC. “Talking is often about doing — problem-solving. Silence allows one to take a step back and ask questions, explore, and investigate, whereas talking can be about answering questions and finding solutions.”

He adds, “Silence may have no goal which is part of the reason why people may struggle with it so much. There is no aim, no objective, no way to do it well so we assume we are doing it badly,” he says.

The thing about silence, though, is that’s where the opportunity to recharge, relax, and rest lies. “Once the thoughts disappear, your real self has a chance to show up,” says Del Hierro. 

The good news is that finding a slice of silence in your day may be way easier than you think.

How to incorporate more silence into your life

Here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Enjoy your morning cup of coffee without your phone.
  • Go for a walk without calling family or friends or listening to music or podcasts. Instead, listen to the natural noises around you. (Even if that’s the sound of the traffic of Lake Shore Drive whizzing by you).
  • Look out the window of the cab, rideshare, or train instead of popping in your Airpods.
  • Make your vehicle noise-free when you’re driving it.
  • Set a designated time aside each day for no noise or sound whatsoever. You can even choose one day a week when you abstain from all electronic devices, phone calls, or text messages. Hey, maybe even all three. (You daredevil, you).

The bottom line: Silence may seem like a completely unnecessary part of your day, but with the many benefits of being silent, it may be a practice you should consider incorporating into your daily life more often. Shhh, please. Thank you!

At Home Live Mental Health Think & Feel

About Ashley Martens

Ashley Martens is a Wellness Writer based in Chicago, Illinois. With a background in a digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more Ashley and her writing over at her blog, Three to Five a Day.

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