We are a modern day people constantly over stimulated by the environment. People walk in the streets with their eyes glued to their phone rather than greeting passers-by. Many blast their radios for all to hear rather than having important or even necessary conversations.
We strive to stay busy and social so that we don’t have to spend time in solitude or reflection. There is nothing wrong with any of this per se, but what are we sacrificing and when do we start making changes for the improvement of our own welfare?
Worsening air pollution is a dire problem endangering the health of all species on the planet worldwide. This is due to harmful agriculture and industry practices, irresponsible urbanisation, and unsustainable sources of energy. But there are other kinds of pollution that disrupt our systems and impact our well-being. Consider, if you will, noise and light.
Noise pollution poses a challenge to appropriate rest, mental balance, and can cause emotional irritation for those at risk. It is the culmination of constant, loud, and invasive noise arising from construction, street traffic, loud music, computers, and the hum of electricity and power sources. The noise around us, quite literally, never stops.
Pause. Close your eyes. Focus on what you hear. It may be voices talking, music playing, cars honking. But listen deeper – can you hear your electronic devices powering up? Your phone alerting you to another text message, and another, and another? Acknowledge just for a moment the over stimulation of your sense of hearing and see what impact it has on you.
Does it make you just a little anxious to look at your phone, or make it difficult for you to focus your thoughts or calm down? Is there a deeper part of you that just wants some quiet?
Many people also suffer from light pollution. Harsh fluorescent lighting can affect mood and eye health long-term. People sleep with their phones on or the light from other electronic devices shining into the room at night. This causes interruption in sleep cycles and prevents the deep rest we each need for optimal functioning.
Consider your lights at home and at work. Do they make you and your eyes comfortable? Think about your sleeping environment. Is it dark and free from the glare of electronics, or is it constantly lit in some way or another?
If you are noticing that you are more fatigued than usual or confused as to why you aren’t sleeping better, investigate the effects of noise and light pollution in your home and work environments.
Make more time for quiet and protect yourself from too much invasive noise. Create a safe haven for sleep and recovery, and make it dark and comfortable. Don’t be afraid to adopt a quieter and easier pace. We don’t have to be loud and stimulated all of the time. Just like any other creature on the planet, we have a time for play and a time for rest. Rest well and without unnecessary pollution.
Billy Rosa is a Registered Nurse, Integrative Nurse Coach Visiting Faculty, University of Rwanda