Numerous studies have linked unwanted sound to increased levels of stress. Even low-level noise has been associated with increased aggression and other mental health problems, as well as poor sleep, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Janet Luhrs, pioneer of the Simplicity Movement, offers the following tips for increasing moments of silence in your daily life so that you will feel better and be healthier:

Start your day with silence. Before running headlong into another day, do something relaxing for twelve minutes when you wake up. That could be stretching, reading something inspirational, or meditating. Hormone levels are highest when you first get out of bed. Most people have coffee and turn on CNN. That’s the worst thing you can do.

Eat at a table, without TV or reading. Mindful eating helps you enjoy your food more, prevents overeating because you are tuned in to your body’s satiety signals, and allows your body to metabolize food more efficiently.

Try driving in silence. The car is a wonderful place to get in touch with your thoughts and be with yourself. Silence is rejuvenating.

Create a silence retreat at home. Set aside an evening at home when you will not talk. Turn the ringer off the phone and don’t answer it; turn off the TV. Don’t run any extra machines. If you have a cooperative family, try to do it together, or trade nights with your spouse taking the kids out to dinner and a movie.

Practice silent exercise. When you exercise, try it without the iPod and magazines. If possible, exercise outdoors. Silence helps you pay attention to everything your body is doing—your breathing, your muscles, your posture. Silence helps you listen to the healthy signals your body is giving you—to slow down, to go faster, to straighten up.

Raghda Sawas