We all know that, by the time January hits, we are generally burned out and ready to relax. The hype of the holiday season is over, the weather is usually cold and dreary, and we have approximately five months to wait for solid, warm weather.
Perhaps the signal is to retreat into the gathering silence of the winter months?
Here are three science-backed reasons why silence and quiet during the winter months is beneficial.
Noise pollution has been found to lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks, impaired hearing and overall health. Loud noises raise stress levels by activating the brain’s amygdala and causing the release of the stress hormone cortisol. A 2006 study published in the journal Heart, found two minutes of silence to be more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music, based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
The ceaseless attentional demands of modern life put a significant burden on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in high-order thinking, decision-making and problem-solving. When our attention resources are depleted, we become distracted and mentally fatigued, we struggle to focus, solve problems and come up with new ideas. The quiet stillness you find when walking alone in nature allows the brain to relax.
A 2013 study on mice, published in the journal Brain, Structure, and Function, involved comparing the effects of ambient noise, white noise, and silence on the rodents’ brains. They found that two hours of silence daily led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.
So, cuddle up with your loved one and doze away. Your brain will thank you!
Contribution from Chris Patton of PowerWithin