Quiet and Stillness...Why is it important?
Our world is full of all sorts of noises and distractions. Between the chaos of a house full of big and small humans and animals, background music, podcasts, television, or video games, or just the general outside noise of traffic or airplanes overhead, it can be difficult to find time and space to be quiet and still. Let’s be real. I struggle to sit in the quiet too, especially when I’m alone. I really enjoy listening to background music or a podcast in those moments. But research tells us that when we don’t make time to be quiet and still, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
So why is quiet and stillness so important? Well, let's talk about it. There are actually several health benefits that come when we take time to be still, calm and quiet.
It lowers our blood pressure, in turn improving our cardiovascular health and risk for heart attack and stroke, to name a few.
It improves our concentration and focus, which can increase productivity in our every day lives.
It calms our anxiety and racing thoughts, settles our nervous system and improves our mental health.
It can stimulate brain growth.
It reduces our cortisol levels. Increased cortisol levels contribute to weight gain, fatigue and keeps our body in fight or flight mode even when it shouldn't be.
It stimulates creativity.
It improves our quality of sleep and decreases insomnia.
It encourages us to practice mindfulness, allowing us to be more present in this moment as it is.
Now that we know the benefits of stillness, quiet and calm, how do we incorporate it into our lives?
The goal is to be intentional about creating time and space for quiet and stillness every day, even if it’s just for small moments of time. Perhaps you’re like me and enjoy the quiet in the morning hours before everyone else is awake. I treasure this time as a working mom of 3 because it grounds and centers me before my day (often full of chaos) begins. I use this time to read, journal and set my intentions for the day. I do it early in the morning because more often than not, there isn’t time or space for stillness later in my day.
Some might ask how it’s possible to get up before the sun (and the early rising small humans in my life). I think this question often comes up because our lives can be so exhausting and sleeping in later feels easier most days. What I generally say to this question is that I prioritize my sleep and go to bed earlier so that I’m able to get up early and have this time for myself in the quiet. And I can honestly say that the days I do sleep in or go to bed later, I often don’t get that quiet time, which then often results in increased anxiety, overwhelm, stress and irritability. Is it easy to get up as early as I do? Not really. But the tradeoff is worth it.
Other ways to sneak in moments of quiet and stillness is by going for a walk or hike in nature. Maybe you could go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing if you're still dealing with lots of snow like we are here (remind me again why I haven't moved somewhere warmer yet LOL). Maybe you will avoid a large get-together or social gathering and opt for some much-needed quiet time alone at home. Or maybe you’ll carve out time during your day for some deep breathing or a short meditation. It all counts!
Your action item for this week is to create some space and time in your day to be quiet and still, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Sit still and quietly, close your eyes, and take 5 slow deep breaths in and out, and watch your heart rate and parasympathetic system slow down. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it : ) And if you're still struggling with how to fit this in, take some time to think about what quiet looks like to you right now and make a plan. Schedule it into your day. I promise you won't be disappointed, even if it's hard at first.
Be Calm and Carry on.