The health benefits of silence

'Take a moment for yourself'

Even during a hectic workday, it's beneficial for your health and your relationships to find moments of peace and quiet, Cynthia Kane writes in the Washington Post's "Inspired Life."

Kane recommends practicing meditation throughout the day. Tune off your phone, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing—a small act that can be done anywhere, from the morning commute to waiting for your coffee order.

And if sitting still isn't an option, take things more slowly. "Pick something you do every day and do it slowly," Kane says. "Pay attention to your movements."

Such silent time can have positive effects throughout the day. According to Kane, meditation has "proven psychological effects" of increased compassion and self-acceptance in those who practice, and it can also improve decision-making skills and self-control.

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Health, relationship benefits

The benefits of silence can translate over to relationships, too. Sometimes, Kane writes, we rush through conversations without listening to or understanding what the person is saying. 

When conversations are hurried, or turn into a mere "match up for the best monologue," irritation or conflicts can brew until they boil over. Instead, Kane recommends incorporating deliberate silence—through pauses—into your conversations.

By stopping and reflecting for a moment, you can calm the conversation and take some time to view the situation differently, Kane writes.

"The key is to put the brakes on any fight-or-flight response that might be brewing due to the irritation," says author Christine Carter.

Beyond improving your conversations, quieting down can improve your overall health.

"[Silence] sends the message internally that I'm worth taking time out for," says Elisha Goldstein, co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living.

"Taking time out each day to just settle down in silence," says Goldstein, "maybe even just being aware of the body's natural rhythm of breathing, cools down the emotional center of the brain and brings the ability to regulate our emotions and be more in control of our impulses."

In other words, quiet is calming. But in a hectic world, Kane recognizes it's not always easy to find those moments of peace.

"If you're feeling overwhelmed or need a moment of calm and quiet," she writes, "simply close your eyes and take a moment for yourself" (Kane, "Inspired Life," Washington Post, 1/7).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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