Can a Peaceful Sound Become a Stressful, Harmful Noise?

I don’t think about noise and sounds very much anymore, now that I work at home.  I can open the window and hear the calming sound of the birds chirping or listen to some peaceful music in the background.  It’s a great stress management tool.  But, it wasn’t always like that.  I used to be in the cube environment.  There was noise all around me, and I tried my best to block it out but there was always something that distracted me. 

A recent study of clerical workers revealed that people who work in noisy areas have higher levels of stress hormones and made 40 percent fewer attempts to solve a difficult puzzle. Noise may stifle your willingness to work on tasks, which is why some people go home full of stress after a long day, but feel like they didn’t get very much done.

Even hospital environments can expose patients to noise levels equal to rush hour traffic!  With everything going on in hospitals, the caregivers have to speak louder, causing more noise.  Noise prevents people from sleeping, and can slow healing.  That is why it is important to be aware of the noises around you, and make some time for a peaceful moment and stress relief.

While there is nothing you can do about some sudden loud noises, like thunder for instance, it is important to control those you can.  You should become aware of the sounds around you and make conscious choices to either remain where you are, or, if you’re feeling especially stressed, find a quite place to calm down for a moment.

If it is impossible to get away, you could put on a pair of headphones and play some soothing music, or even just some white noise.  An indoor water fountain may also help you relax.  Then concentrate on what you are doing, even if you have to put a sign on the door for others to keep out.  Just be sure the sound going directly into your ear from your headphones is turned down low enough, and limit your listening to an hour at a time.  Music should never be played so loud that others can hear it. 

If you are still getting a feeling of stress when you have the headphones on, it might be a sign that the music is still too loud.  You should experiment until you find a level for you that is both comfortable, and stimulating.   You definitely want to be able to make important decisions more than 40 percent of the time!

There are many companies that specialize in Sound Therapy, and you can find some of them at

P.S.  If you have a private cube or office, you might want to try the computer biofeedback game that is the ultimate stress reducer!