The Toxicity of Noise

Empaths are often sound sensitive and have a lower tolerance for noise. It’s important that we empaths honor our sound sensitivity and do our best to create an environment that is quiet and peaceful.

For myself and many empaths, loud noises are painful and anxiety-provoking. We have an enhanced startle response and are super-reactive to intense sensory input. Toxic noise penetrates and shocks our bodies. When a siren passes by, I always put my hands over my ears because the sound of the siren goes right through my system. Also noisy neighbors and barking dogs can intrude on our privacy and impact our serenity. As I’ve re-learned with my noisy neighbors, when they drink their voices get super-loud though they don’t realize it.

Studies show that noise has a powerful physical effect on our brains and increases stress, insomnia, anxiety, agitation, hypertension and heart disease. Being chronically exposed to toxic noise can cause stress hormones to rise which decreases our immunity and peace of mind.

One workshop participant told me, “We endured two years of horrific renovation in our New York apartment. It made my husband and I exhausted and sick. Plus, to cope with stress, I’d binge on carbs which wasn’t healthy.” Though this is an extreme example of toxic noise–there are many lesser kinds including traffic, sirens, barking dogs, loud televisions, and partying neighbors.

When your environment has lower levels of sensory input, your brain can recover its cognitive clarity. Spending time alone in silence allows your mind to relax. Creating periods of quiet allows you to recover from the intensity of our fast-paced world. You may not realize how much the toxicity of noise drains you. Sometimes you can barely hear yourself talk, let alone listen to your intuition. Loud restaurants. Sirens. Jackhammers. Incessant talking. In response, you may unconsciously wall off your sensitivities for protection and walk around defended or shut down.

Here are 7 strategies to help empaths cope with excessive noise from my book “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People.”

  • Identify the noise offenders and develop a plan to approach them.
  • Get sound-blocking ear buds or white noise/sound machines which let you hear the ocean or rain or other sublime moods of nature.
  • Meditate to calm your physiology.
  • Observe a “no” loud noise rule in your home.
  • Visualize a luminous golden egg of light surrounding you that repels the toxicity of loud noises.
  • Create healthy boundaries with sound-offenders. (Try to keep your calm with neighbors but be consistent with the boundaries you want to set.)
  • Be in nature to replenish your energy and ground yourself.

Plan at least five minutes of silence a few days a week. This is sacred time when no one can intrude. For highly sensitive empaths, quiet is a balm for the soul. It lets us have time to do the deep processing of life that we yearn for, and it provides open space for our creativity to roam and soar.

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Dr. Judith Orloff

Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty.

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