Silence is Golden

Learn how to turn down the volume, tune out the annoyances--and make your life healthier.

By Dana Hudepohl


Six Easy Ways to Turn Down the Volume
Make your home a haven of tranquility. To absorb sound, place rubber feet (also known as vibration mounts) under major appliances, foam pads under small appliances, rugs on your floors, and drapes on your windows. For recommendations on quiet household products, such as the barely audible Bosch dishwasher and the Whisper Drive garage door opener, go to (the Web site of the Right to Quiet Society, a group that works to promote noise reduction) and click on "Quiet Products."

2. Tune it out. "I can be cuddling with my kids when they're watching Arthur, and if I face the window, look at the trees, and daydream, I don't hear the TV at all. It's amazing how you can shut down the noise that way," Domar says.

3. Create a sense of calm. Studies show that technqiues such as meditation and progressive muscle relaxation, when practiced in a hushed room, elicit the "relaxation response": Your heart rate decreases, your blood pressure lowers, your breathing slows down, and your muscles become less tense. To do it, turn off your radio, television, and computer; close your eyes; and relax your muscles, one by one. Each time you exhale, repeat a word such as calm or quiet. "If you do this for 20 minutes," Domar says, "you can relieve anxiety, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems."

4. Give your brain a break. When noise around you is stressing you out but you have no control over it (airplanes overhead or the roar of traffic), put on headphones and listen to a blank tape (also known as white noise), and then conjure up a little serenity. "As you turn your attention inward, your mind stops racing and worrying," Domar explains.

5. Speak up. If a noisy person is bothering you, say so. Talk to your aerobics instructor about turning down the music in class. Ask your neighbor not to mow his lawn before 9 am. "People have to get in the habit of asking," Bronzaft says. "We're entitled to quiet."

6. Fight for Peace. Contact the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (888-200-8332 or for help and advice if you'd like to take a noise complaint to your local planning commission, zoning board, or city council.