Sometimes we need to press “pause” on the soundtrack of our lives. The quiet gives us rest, time to reflect. To think about songs we’ve heard, some on repeat. To reminisce. And to anticipate what comes next on the playlist. Will we be the DJ or will there be a guest DJ choosing the track? Something upbeat? Melancholy? Pop? Country? Rap?
Making space for quiet can be, and usually is, restorative. Just turning off the phone, or putting it on airplane mode, for even just a few minutes, can put distractions on hold long enough to let your mind breathe, to feel the mental sigh of relief throughout your whole body.
If the idea of disconnecting, even if for a brief period, stirs up feelings of anxiety, consider what that might be about for you. Are you afraid of missing out (FOMO) on something? Is it that constant motion just feels so familiar and the idea of stillness is so foreign? Whatever the case, finding—making—time for silence can be incredibly healing. And it doesn’t have to take that long. Giving yourself the gift of just 10 minutes at the start of your day can make a big difference in mood and stress level. I’m sure most of us are aware how a few minutes of quiet in the morning can set a very different tone for the day compared to days when we jump out of bed and dive into daily chaos.
Maybe you can take time to pause at midday, on your lunch break. Stare out the window for five minutes. Or, just close your eyes. The point is to “check out” for even just a brief period of time. Listen. Your world won’t be entirely quiet (unless maybe you’re wearing noise-canceling headphones, or you’re submerged underwater!). You’ll notice the ambient sounds, maybe birds chirping, traffic roaring in the distance, kids playing outside. Your own breathing. Just sit and notice. Notice how your body feels. Where your body meets the chair or the floor. Legs. Hands. Arms. Your face. Take a gentle inventory of the sensations in your body. Take some deep breaths and then let them go. Visualize any tension sliding away from your body, from your head down to your toes. Let it all fall away with each exhale.
On days when you feel especially stressed, allow yourself to get up and go somewhere else to find some quiet. You may be amazed at how just a few minutes away from whatever is causing stress will help you to relax, and settle your mind and body. My guess is that most likely, by giving yourself permission to take a break, you’ll be reminded of how much this can help. Even if you’re someone who thrives on constant activity and adrenaline, that break can bring clarity, or perhaps a new perspective.
The bottomline is that moments of deep relaxation are necessary for our mental and physical wellbeing. They are key to self-care.
Even if you have to sit in your car alone, I encourage you to give yourself the gift of silence. If options are limited, it can even be a restroom stall. It really doesn’t matter where you go. It just has to be somewhere that you can simply “be” for a few minutes without interruption.
If you want to take your moments of silence (or sanity breaks!) to the next level, here are a few ideas and resources to consider:
Meditate: If you’re new to meditation, there are some great apps to try. Of course, that means using your phone, but in this case, it’s worth it. I personally love Insight Timer. It includes guided meditations and visualizations, courses, and relaxing music.
Float away: Floating in a “desensitization” chamber or pod may not be for everyone, but it can be extremely relaxing because it removes all outside sensation. You literally float in a bath of salt water inside a tank in a darkened room. The tank may or may not be enclosed. If you’re prone to claustrophobia, you may prefer an open tank. Your body will feel weightless, like floating in outer space.
Take a walk: Go for a contemplative walk in the park or your neighborhood. Better yet, find a nature trail and immerse yourself in the solace of a natural environment.
Find a lake: Sitting by a body of water and listening, whether it’s a lake, a river, or the ocean, can be deeply relaxing and refreshing.
Post a sticky note: Write a reminder to yourself to take a break—or simply to breathe—and post it where you can see it. You could even use an object or ornament as a mnemonic “device.”
Find what works for you and enjoy the silence, my friends.