When Covid restrictions started to lift in 2022 many of us believed we were entering a period of unbridled joy. It didn’t take long though for a new concern to arise; a rapidly increasing cost of living. As the cost of groceries, rent, mortgage repayments went up, the vast majority of us are being placed under extraordinary stress which is having an extremely detrimental impact on our physical and mental health.
Mindfulness is a practice designed to take us out of our thoughts, to reduce stress and keep us ‘in the present’ (and our minds off worrisome thoughts). Often achieved through activities such as meditation, mindfulness is particularly helpful when things can otherwise feel out of control, allowing practitioners to improve their focus and boost their mental health at effectively no cost. In this blog post, we’ll look at what mindfulness is, its benefits, the power of meditation, the need for noise management and how ear plugs and white noise can be effective tools in times of crisis.
Mindfulness & its Benefits
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that draws your awareness to precisely how you are sensing and feeling in the moment without thought or judgment as to why you’re feeling that way. Guided breathwork, imagery and focus on sounds as well as other practices can all be used to relax the body and mind.
Mindfulness has its origins in Buddhism, and has in recent decades become popular in the West as awareness of its benefits has spread. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
- Reduced stress and burnout
- Improved focus and concentration
- Better physical and mental health
- Improved emotional well-being
- Better relationships
- Greater self-awareness
Numerous mindfulness guides can be found on the internet on free platforms such as Youtube and Spotify. We particularly like The Honest Guys. Community centers around the country also offer free meditation classes. Finally, for a more structured approach, apps like Insight Timer can teach you techniques to achieve mindfulness over several days. Insight Timer has an annual subscription fee but can be trialed free of charge (they provide plenty of reminders about when the trial will finish which we love).
The Need for Noise Management
For the vast majority of us who live in urban parts of the country, we may not even realize how impacted we are by noise pollution. Cities are loud, to the point of being detrimental to our health. Combine this with the added stress of higher rents, grocery bills and mortgage payments and we are seeing a rapid decline in the physical and mental health particularly of those living in cities or around noisy environments, be that at work or for those living near a flight path, a construction site, trainline or simply a busy street.
Noise pollution is not only having a generally negative impact on our health but it can be a barrier to mindfulness. The pressure in society to be productive, plus the mounting financial pressures many of us are dealing with can lead to us ‘always being on’. The ding of a notification on Slack, Teams, a social media app or your email client for example draws us out of ourselves and actually activates our fight or flight response, releasing negative hormones that increase stress.
Ear Plugs and White Noise as Mindfulness Tools
Before we go on, the irony of suggesting you buy something in an article about the cost of living crisis is not lost on us. But we would be remiss not to mention a relatively inexpensive tool that can make achieving mindfulness and reducing stress easier.
Hearing protection, whether it be foam ear plugs rated for high noise reduction, or reusable ear plugs designed to simply ‘take the edge off’ noise while otherwise allowing you to participate in conversations (while at work for example) are a highly effective way of dealing with the often overwhelming levels of noise pollution in the modern world.
You may like to use ear plugs at home to remove distractions while attempting to meditate or for aiding with sleep (another essential component of your physical and mental health). They also could be used at work, where the pressures of your job, computer and colleagues might otherwise make it difficult to steal a moment to practice mindfulness (but often when it is needed most).
White Noise (or Brown Noise and Pink Noise), typically produced by either a digital or mechanical machine, can aid with meditation and mindfulness practices by creating a calm environment and ‘masking’ otherwise distracting sounds. Many people use white noise when ear plugs would otherwise not be appropriate for meditation (for example when you need to hear your kids). Like ear plugs, these sort of sound machines double as tools for improved sleep; the repetitive nature of the sound can help lull you into a deep slumber.
For more info check out our blog ‘Four Reasons Why White Noise Helps With Meditation’
Cruelly, the Cost of Living Crisis is returning our collective stress to Covid levels. Mindfulness, which is a practice that draws our awareness to how we are feeling and what we are sensing, has been shown to have a range of benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing. Because of the noisiness of the modern world though, it is harder than ever to practice mindfulness, even if you already know how. In fact, high levels of noise itself has been shown to increase our already wilting mental and physical health.
Ear plugs and white noise machines can help though. If you are interested in trying either of these tools, be sure to check out our Best Ear Plugs For Meditation guide and our extensive White Noise Machine collection.
Got questions, or want to try ear plugs or white noise but suffering from budget blues? Reach out to email@example.com and we can arrange ear plug samples or b-stock machines to trial.