Occasionally, I get into one of those stressed-out funks of waiting to get a text back from someone or worrying about a project at work that hasn’t even started yet.
In those moments I know I’ve lost my chill, my equilibrium is tilted, my chi is overheating or all of the above. Things are not right and I need to fix them.
I guess we can always breathe Eucalyptus to kill stress, but since we can’t always be inhaling I’m offering a simpler, easier, and Catholic solution we can do anywhere.
We just need some silence.
Quiet is hard to get these days because the noise terrorists have found their way into our lives without us even realizing it. They are in our daily routines. Here are a few.
Our Incessant Need to Talk
Somehow, somewhere in the history of dating, people came up with this idea that if you are with someone you need to be talking the whole entire time and if you aren’t it is awkward.
What I find to be awkward is talking about the 20% chance of rain when I could be using that quiet time to figure out how I can beat the 200 lb. fighter I’ll be boxing in the ring Thursday night.
Quiet is productive.
[bctt tweet=”Quiet is productive.” username=”catholicsingles”]
I remember one of the most enjoyable people I ever dated was a person that I could be quiet with. We would spend time in the car together without saying anything and we were both cool with that.
This was probably because we were both cool with ourselves and didn’t feel a need to prove to each other that we were interesting. It would be interrupted with random nudges or goofy faces but in the end we were OK with the silence and not saying anything.
So if you’re among people and find that you don’t have anything to say, just don’t say anything.
Enjoy the silence.
The noise terrorists want us to think we always need to have something to say but it is not true. It can actually be stressful.
Music: Why Do We Pump Stress Into Our Ears?
Most songs are about staying together forever, breaking up, or never really loving again. Those are all deeply emotional experiences and jamming to that all day has got to make you apprehensive in the subconscious or conscious.
MusicPsychology.co.uk reported on a study of the impact of lyrics on our mood and outlook. They found that:
Lyrics are crucial for defining sadness in music.The presence of lyrics in sad music was associated with brain activations that have previously been reported in response to music chills (see previous blog), judgments of beauty, demanding speech tasks and the human “mirror neuron” system.
Music can be fun when you want to pump out a cross-fit workout or take a drive along the beach, but putting your emotions through a lyrical washing machine of intense emotional ideas is going to tire you out eventually and put you on edge.
Try building a chill instrumental playlist without some heartbroken singer wailing about losing his or her life love. Create an ambiance where you can calm down and think.
Social Media is a Silence Killing Machine
The noise terrorists are not only in the airwaves, they are also what we see. The social media feed is a big one.
People always complain about what they see on social media.
Don’t like it? Curate your feed.
Un-follow, un-friend, un-like, block, do whatever you have to do to ensure that your SM contributes to the chill vibe you want to build.
Even if your SM is good, try not scrolling through it 100 times a day. More than likely there will be a post about someone declaring how awesome their boyfriend is whom you’ve never met, while you are sitting at home spooning out of a Breyer’s half-gallon. Nothing wrong with any of that but it could be an emotional trigger.
In the past few years, dozens of studies have been done on how Facebook and other social media is linked to increased rates in depression. According to NPR: “A handful of studies from different labs have now established links between passive Facebook use and envy.”.
Basically, people on Facebook or Instagram only post the happy, good stuff in their lives. When we see their updates, we wonder why our lives can’t be as great as theirs.
The truth is, people don’t share the bad stuff in their lives as much as the fun stuff.
A New Season of Stress is Coming
And sometimes disruption comes through both sound and sight. This is called TV. TV series are designed to get you emotionally worked up. That’s the only way they can keep you watching and coming back for more. They take you to the top and get you excited about a nice guy and then it turns out he was a cheater all along. “What the…!?” And then the episode ends leaving you not only emotionally charged but in a state of suspense wondering what’s going to happen next.
Riding that roller coaster can be fun occasionally but every single evening may be a bit much. Plan a few magazine or book evenings and let the silence chill the feelings a bit.
The Deep About Silence
Silence not only has an impact on us psychologically but spiritually also. We’re used to hearing this.
“Ya, I know you can’t hear God’s voice when there too much noise.” As if God were on a far off mountain shouting down at you and anything about 19 decibels is going to block out the sound of his voice.
That’s not really the problem. The real problem is that God simply isn’t there when there is too much noise. I’m not even totally sure how sound waves work so I’m not going to try and explain that but just keep the image if it helps. Too much noise, no God.
[bctt tweet=”God simply isn’t there when there is too much noise.” username=”catholicsingles”]
My favorite book on silence is Robert Cardinal Sarah’s The Power of Silence. You should read it sometime before you die. The author explores these deep metaphysical dimensions of silence. At the end of the book, I was left with this feeling that I didn’t just need to be more quiet, I wanted to be quiet. Silence is powerful and I want that power over my life. I’ve realized, however, that in more ways than one, the noise terrorists have taken control. Stop it.