That’s not a trick question. The sounds at home can have a significant impact on one’s mental and physical health. We hear from an expert.
6 June 2017
Chronic noise is recognised as a massive health issue all over the world and in Europe, it now rates just behind air pollution as a killer.
In a dense urban city like Singapore, noise from a busy street or close neighbours are issues many homeowners have to contend with. However, the effect of noise can be more insidious than we think. At home, we don’t give much thought to the hum of the old refrigerator in the kitchen or the television playing in the background. But when the sounds stop, you certainly notice the difference and your state of mind changes.
According to self-described ‘sound evangelist’ Julien Treasure, who is author of Sound Business and chairman of brand consultancy The Sound Agency, modern society generally focuses a lot on how things look, and not much on how things sound. We’ve also gotten into the habit of suppressing our consciousness of sound.
But sound affects us in powerful ways, sometimes without us even knowing it.
“Sound affects your breathing, your heart rate, and your hormone secretions. Every bodily rhythm that we have gets changed by the sounds outside of us,” says Julien.
“Sound changes our mood. We can use it to enhance a mood, or counteract a mood,” he says.
Sounds from the crying baby next door or the caterwauling neighbourhood cats are enough to fray anyone’s nerves when all one wants to do is relax and chill after a hard day’s work. There are, however, some easy solutions to this.
To mitigate noise at home, you can try installing heavy curtains, thick carpets and heftier fabrics on your upholstery. These can help to minimise the amount of noise that bounces off the surfaces in your home.
But, and it’s a big but, sound can be a good thing. Music can help us relax and unwind. Whale noises are prescribed by some experts to insomniacs whose only desire is to be able to get to sleep. Julien himself uses bird sounds a great deal in his sound agency. “Bird songs make most people feel secure and safe,” he explains.
Silence is just as important as sound. Sometimes, all we need is to hear, well, nothing at all. According to Julien, everyone should find silence for just a few minutes a day, to give our bodies the opportunity to recalibrate our ears.
For more, read the article Design for the Senses, Lookbox Living issue May/June 2017, available at all major newsstands.
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