Of all the brain-numbing forms of stress and pollution, noise would have to be the toughest to exclude from our lives. In an environment dominated by machines and crowded wirh people, little sonic privacy can be hard to find. The physical damage to our ears caused by noise is well known, but it is the myriad sources of noise that bombard our brains, distract our thinking and create stress:

Physical Symptoms

Our bodies react to noise. Adrenaline is released into your bloodstream; breathing and heartbeat quicken; blood pressure goes up; and pores release sweat. And how does this translate into the work you do?

Noise not only can reduce the amount of work you can get done, but is apt to drag down the quality as well. Intellectual tasks are especially vulnerable to noise.

Action steps

Actively minimise the amount of noise affecting you. If you can think of a way to stop the Walkman noise pollution on the trains...let me know. I saw an advertisement for British Rail where an annoyed passenger cut the headphone cable of a fellow, noisy commuter. As for mobile phones, I want to invent a jamming device to block the signals.

Get away and have a day of silence. Maybe a weekend of silence, where you can spend time listening to your thoughts and dreams.

Purchase some ear plugs.

Use white noise to mask out the sound. The easiest way to generate white noise is to tune the FM radio between stations and adjusting the base and treble (or tone control) for the best noise-muting hiss.

Based on material from "How to Boost your brain-power" by Roger Yepson published by Rodale press 1987.
Last updated: 1st October 1996