We live in a loud world. From chaotic work environments, busy stores, constant background music and our smartphone notifications vying for our attention 24/7, it is hard to imagine a way to find silence in your day. You may feel as though you are constantly on the go and that rest and quiet are unimportant, or at least unattainable.
I want us to challenge that belief. The constant noise, feeling on-the-go busy all of the time and 24/7 availability from our devices does not have to be our standard. We can work to intentionally be different. Ask yourself, what are you missing when you don’t take time to be silent? What could you find or discover about yourself and the world around you if you would stop and be still?
Here are some ideas for small steps to help toward introducing more quiet time into your life:
- Recognize what is loud. You may have become desensitized to just how loud the world is around you, but that doesn’t mean that the constant noise doesn’t have an impact. Tune in to what is going on around you so that you can become aware of ways to reduce unnecessary sounds that may be causing stress. This may seem counterintuitive, but being desensitized to the noise isn’t the same as being quiet or finding calm. It may mean that your brain is working on overdrive to try to manage the noise while also focusing on the task at hand. Working to be intentional about this focus can help you be more successful at hearing the sound, and making a plan for finding quiet.
- Become friends with your thoughts and feelings. One of the reasons we steer clear of quiet is that it means we may become aware of our thoughts and what is happening inside of us in those quiet moments. Without sounds and talking to drown it out, we must face what is happening internally. This is not a bad thing. Be open to embracing the narrative inside. You may find that you like what you have been trying to ignore. If it is a difficult narrative, that may be a time to call a friend or schedule with a therapist to help process or figure out what is going on inside of you. Ignoring those thoughts and feelings will not help them become calm or go away. Eventually, our feelings will demand to be felt and may catch us off guard if we have not opened ourselves up to them.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Yes, the world is noisy. Yes, you may have deadlines and things calling for your time. The truth is, a desire to be quiet doesn’t always match the to do list in front of us but that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to the noise and chaos. Choose one thing at a time and be intentional to focus on that one task. Choose quiet music while you work on it to help you focus, or find a silent space. If you work in a cubicle environment and the noise level is somewhat out of your control, use ear buds with calm music or even ear plugs to help down out the excess noise. Mindfully take on one task at a time. Be intentional about your surroundings and work to reduce noise pollution.
- Practice meditation. You may think of this as a person sitting in an empty room with their legs crossed and eyes closed, and while that is a way to meditate, that is not the only way. You can work to meditate even in your workspace or car. Block out five minutes, turn off your music and work to tune in to your breathing and the space inside of you. You can use guided meditations with apps such as headspace to help you get started as it can feel difficult to try this out on your own right away. You may feel silly, but know that this is important for your well-being and it is worth it. You will find, especially over time, that you are more in control of your internal narrative. You can work toward being able to calm yourself and focus on the task at hand rather than all of the noise going on around you.
- Find 5 quiet minutes each day. This can be choosing to not turn on your car radio as soon as you start your commute, choosing to not multitask with a phone call while making dinner, turning your phone off and having 5 or more quiet minutes in bed before falling asleep…the ways to do this are plentiful and up to what works best for you! You can journal in this time, sit with your eyes closed and breathe, draw or color, do a quiet task but without adding music, talking or TV in the background. Challenge yourself to find at least 5 quiet minutes each day. You may find that you really enjoy them and even find additional ways to work in quiet time.
Taking time for yourself, time to be silent in your own thoughts and feelings, time to be aware of the world around you and what you are missing in the noise can be rewarding and an act of self care. Especially in the hustle, bustle busy of the holidays, it is important to establish calming routines that can rejuvenate and prepare you for the tasks ahead. May you enjoy your quieter world in these coming months.