A balanced life allows us to function at our best. Our bodies do that naturally through homeostasis, a familiar term from nursing school, by self-regulating physiological processes to ensure equilibrium and optimal functioning. But our brains sometimes need help to self-regulate, and one way to do that is to practice silence. After a day of noise and action, silence and solitude can calm and restore you.

What the Research Tells Us

Practicing silence can help focus your attention, improve your mood, and help you think positively. It slows your breathing and calms your body, allowing for relaxation and self-regulation. Silence produces additional body and mind benefits when paired with mindfulness, listening to music before or after the practice of silence, or being in nature.

Conversely, the effect of noise has been studied with hospitalized patients and has shown to cause stress, poor communication, and decreased mental health.

How to Practice

Silence doesn’t have to be a big investment in your already-busy schedule: you can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available. Finding opportunities for silence throughout your day has a positive effect on your well-being. You can also start with short practices and work your way up to longer amounts of time.

Use the five simple steps shown in the sidebar to get started. You can pair your practice with a positive mantra or meditation, or follow up by listening to music. And it doesn’t always have to be done individually: another way to practice is sharing a moment of silence with colleagues after a patient has passed to honor their life.

When life gets too loud, find comfort in a couple minutes of silence.