Want to Feel Less Stress? Turn Off the Noise

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It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. In fact, the eyes do provide lots of information about a person’s emotional state. But research now points to the ears as a source of information about one’s inner world. To be more specific, earwax can reveal stress levels.

One study demonstrated that a build-up of the stress hormone cortisol can be measured in earwax. Cortisol is a “fight or flight” hormone that sends out alarm signals to the brain in response to stress. Cortisol can be measured in blood, but this provides a snapshot of one’s hormone level in time, whereas earwax shows a build-up of the stress hormone. Researchers are hoping that earwax can provide a measure to supplement or inform diagnoses of depression and anxiety. It will make mental health assessments more accurate.

Noise itself is stressful. Have you noticed the high number of people blowing leaves in your neighborhood? Many of us who work from home, thanks to COVID-19, are annoyed by the sound. Leaf blowers are at the top of noise complaints. It’s distracting to be in a Zoom meeting and have a loud, irritating leaf blower outside your door.

“Exposure to noises from crowds, traffic, and other everyday sounds can become harder to tolerate and increase stress levels, leading to anxiety and a reduction in overall quality of life”, according to audiologist Dr. Stephanie Tompkins. She also suggests that noise sensitivity can lead to isolation as an attempt to avoid noisy situations.

Did you know that people often become more sensitive to noise as they age? This can affect their mental and physical health such as a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. As we age, it is normal to become less tolerant of certain noises that feel too loud and jarring.

It is difficult to feel calm and centered in the midst of noise pollution.

What can you do? Reduce your time in loud places. Reduce the noise in your home. For example, I mute commercials when watching TV. Mute general noise in your home by absorbing it with carpet, drapes, and rugs. Plants soak up sound waves. Wear filtered earplugs and noise-canceling headphones. Keep in mind that not all noise is bad noise. Using a white noise machine to minimize the impact of outside noise can reduce stress caused by noise pollution. Set aside noise-free times. You’ll feel better.

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