In 2011, the Finish tourism board decided to run a campaign promoting the “silence” you can get by visiting the beautiful country. Along with photos of awe-inspiring landscapes, they used the slogan “Silence, Please”.
Eva Kiviranta, manager of social media for VisitFinland.com, said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.
Finland may be on to something. More and more people are living in big cities that are becoming increasingly cluttered, loud and distracting. Yet, according to research, getting an adequate amount of silence each day is important for our brains.
This is what silence does for your brain.
A 2013 study found that when mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day, they developed new brain cells in the hippocampus. This is a region of a brain associated with learning, emotion and memory. In other words, silence could quite literally grow your brain.
As Chaim Potok said, silence could be the ultimate time to learn:
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
Your brain is analyzing during silence.
A 2001 study showed that when the brain was resting, it was constantly internalizing and evaluating information. The study found that when the brain rests it is almost like “a conscious workspace.”
When we’re not distracted by noise or business, it helps our brain relax and think about profound things in an imaginative way.
As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”
Silence reduces stress.
A study found that noisy environments can lead to chronically elevated levels of stress hormones. However, silence may have the opposite effect.
While noise can cause stress and tension, silence releases tension in the brain and the body. A study found that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music.
Silence is a true friend who never betrays. – Confucius
Silence can restore our cognitive resources.
According to the attention restoration theory, when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities.
As Francis Baco once said, “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.”
If you live in a big city, your brain might be craving silence. Finland might just be the best place for you to visit!
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Originally published on The Power of Ideas.