Have you ever noticed that when you are distressed you don’t hear properly and can easily misinterpret someone’s tone of voice? Or you become more sensitive to certain sounds or noise? Or you may startle more easily when you hear a noise?
Did you know that when you are stressed (in a sympathetic activation state), your nervous system is on high alert as it in a fight or flight survival response and this causes a change in your hearing.
The muscles of the middle ear control the ability to focus on the human voice and they balance frequencies and support listening to, and for, voices.
When you are stressed your system is now in survival mode and is tuned to sounds of danger and no longer tuned to sounds of connection.
The middle ear balance shifts away from listening for human voice towards listening for low-frequency sounds of predators or high-frequency sounds of distress.
This is why we are unable to hear and take in information when we are in a survival state. It can really impact the way we connect with others and hear and process information.
Trauma and noise
Today we are challenged more than ever from the noisy environment around us. When you stop and listen to your life, you’ll notice that you are surrounded by noise all the time. Close your eyes and tune into your environment right now.
What’s plugged in, switched on and making a noise? A computer, the dishwasher, television sounds, devices, or people talking. If you listen to the sounds outside you’ll probably also hear the neighbours, traffic, sirens and aeroplanes.
Noise constantly bombards us and when there is too much auditory stress in our environment we end up shutting down some part of our senses just to cope. This is an innate survival response.
The problem is not only noise but the lack of peace and quiet. If there is no peace and quiet in our daily life, how can we feel relaxed and clear-headed?
The absence of peace and quiet means that we are constantly processing sound, which adversely affects our nervous system. We are not designed to sustain this kind of continual interference – our nervous system needs a rest from this on-going noise and activity.
Why Turn Down The Noise?
There are many benefits to turning down the noise in your life. Peace and quiet calms your nervous system and alleviates excessive thinking. With peace and quiet, your mind and body will slow down and your nervous system shifts in to a more balanced state so that you can rest and digest.
Your body absorbs and processes sound which takes energy and that is why many people feel exhausted after spending time in busy shopping areas or in crowds of people. Enjoying more peace and quiet means that you will have more energy and feel less tired.
Here are a few tips to help you to get started immediately:
- Occasionally enjoy a quiet house – run the dishwasher or washing machine when you go out. Mute your devices and turn off all TV’s, radios and background noise.
- While driving in your car turn the radio off and commute in silence.
- When you exercise walk, or run without music and just be with your thoughts.
- Designate a quiet sanctuary area in your garden or home where you can go and sit for few quiet moments.
- Avoid falling asleep to the sound of the TV when you go to bed at night.
- Try to eat one meal a day alone in silence without any distractions.
- Mute (or if recorded fast forward) advertisements when watching TV.
- Manage technology – mute notifications from Apps or switch your mobile onto ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode during certain hours instead of being available 24/7.
- Shop on-line in the peace and quiet of your home.
Where else could you intentionally seek out more quiet moments throughout your day?
If you consciously turn down the noise and integrate some time for peace and quiet throughout the day, your nervous system will feel more regulated so that you can enjoy mental and emotional calm. This will free up your mind and enable you to make better decisions and choices. A more regulated nervous system will dramatically improve your life.
This blog is just a brief outline of Body-Based Psychotherapy. If you are
looking for some more individualised guidance or someone who really understands
the mind-body connection, I would be delighted to provide confidential 1:1 sessions to overcome your trauma symptoms.