There is so much noise around us all the time. Many of us have kids to nurture, demanding jobs to manage, households to run, and partners to invest in. At the end of the day, when your head hits the pillow, it can often be the first moment of silence we’ve had all day. This becomes even more true in times of transition—like a new year or new job—when we’re going through an onslaught of changes.
What we often forget is that silence is an absolutely vital part of our wellbeing. When we fill up our brains with noise, it’s impossible for us to truly rest—and it makes it difficult for us to be in tune with our bodies and our emotions.
This imbalance causes stress and anxiety, both of which will take a toll on our health and productivity if we let them. The research says that silence is even more effective at relaxing us than music is. In addition to reducing tension and stress, silence actually regenerates brain cells and allows our brain to return to its default mode.
There are many different ways to cultivate moments of silence, all of which require us to be intentional about how we’re spending our time from moment to moment. This mindfulness opens up each moment of our day to the opportunity to make intentional decisions about when to choose silence and when to immerse ourselves in the present moment, even if the moment is chaos.
Here are some ideas to help you embrace silence and be more present in each moment of your day.
Start with 5 minutes. Set a timer on your phone if it seems overwhelming. Sit or lie somewhere comfortable, alone, and just let yourself be quiet. Let your mind wander or focus on a few things you’re grateful for. If the timer goes off and you’re comfortable, enjoy the silence until you’re ready to move on to something else.
It’s tempting to judge ourselves harshly when we begin to practice silence. We suddenly begin thinking of all the things we should be doing instead, or we judge the stream of thoughts that runs endlessly through our minds. Give yourself permission to let the judgement go. There’s no value in it here and you don’t need it. Try observing your thoughts instead. Instead of “I have too much to do” try “I feel like I have too much to do”. The difference is important. Feelings pass and don’t have to define our moment-to-moment.
Learn to Listen
Not to others, but to yourself. What does your inner voice say? What feelings are you experiencing? What would help you feel more at peace right now? How can you be more present in this moment? Listen to yourself, and as you listen, practice acceptance.
As you move into this new year full of new opportunities and challenges, please don’t forget to embrace moments of silence. Excuse yourself from the action and allow your mind to reset. Your wellbeing is so important. Don’t allow it to suffer in the chaos.