How much of an impact does noise really have on our lives?
We’re all surrounded by noise, but how much does sound affect our everyday lives and our overall health and well being?
No matter where we are, our brains are constantly busy accepting and translating the sound vibrations our ears pick up. We live our lives to a constant stream of background music, made up by the noise of traffic, chatty co-workers, music and the constant mumble of life. We never get a break from it,
Noise researcher and environmental psychologist Arline Bronzaft, Ph.D., of the City University of New York has said the extend of the effwct of noise can vary from person to person. “While the ear picks up the sound waves and sends it to the temporal lobe for interpretation, it’s the higher senses of the brain that determine whether that sound is unwanted, unpleasant, or disturbing,” she explains.
Unfortunately, the sounds at our workplace are amongst the most distracting, and deemed unpleasant and disturbing by our brains, but music whilst working out, traffic noise and just about everything can have a negative effect.
So how does sound affect our everyday being at work?
1. It makes us less productive
Open floor plan offices are a disaster zone for sound build up. Amongst the many health breaches of these designs, like easier spread of illnesses, the drop in productivity levels is most severe. Research proves that the sounds found in a busy office space are not only distracting, but also stressful. Noise depreciates employee’s abilities to perform basic tasks such as arithmetic and information recall, but furthermore, noise also makes us less motivated to try.
2. It makes multitasking near impossible
Multitasking isn’t an easy feat to begin with, but throw in a whole lot of background sounds, and the distractions become fatal. When you’re thoughts are pulled in a thousand different directions at work or home we become less able to block out distractions. This means that when you linger a little too long on that noisy interruption, (and let’s face it work place gossip is much more interesting than filing papers) it’ll be harder to get back to the million things you were doing before.
3. Headphones are a hazard
If you’re one of those people who escape from life’s noises into music – especially when keeping fit, you might not be doing yourself any favours. Although putting in your headphones may eliminate other distracting sounds, music can weaken your memory recall. If you can’t work without your tunes, try listening to music you don’t like, but silence works best to boost your memory.
4. It can make us less likely to take care of ourselves
In the same study that linked office noise to stress, researchers found out, that in an environment full of sounds, women are less likely to make natural and comfortable adjustments to the way they are sitting. Instead, noise prompts us to hunch over our desks which can aid in the development of carpel tunnel, bad posture and back pain later on.
By BB Intern Dominique Tait
5 tips to help block out noise
- Instead of the top twenty countdown, opt for ambient sounds to relax and sooth
- Try developing a rhythm at work that will let you tune out the distractions
- If you’re surrounded by noise at home, plant greenery and shrubs to act as a noise buffer
- Try adjusting your work hours. If possible, go to the office earlier or leave later and take advantage of the solitude!
- Meditate. Although it takes practice, meditating can relax your mind and block out distractions.