Quiet time. I remember that in elementary school it was used for discipline. If a kid was acting up, they sat in the corner and had “quiet time”. Parents today are encouraged to use “time outs” when rearing their kids. Is it only for kids? I’m sure you are shaking your head with a resounding no!
What seems very boring and is protested by many a child, is something that most adults wish they had more of. The demands on our schedules and the constant assault of stimuli take their toll. And yet, many people who do have the time and many people who don’t could use some quiet time.
I need quiet time right now. I haven’t been bad or unruly, but I’ve done a lot more than I can usually handle today. I was attempting to address my health needs and it all seemed to pile up on one day. Today I saw my general practitioner, my eye doctor, my dentist, a physiotherapist, and went to the lab to have blood tests.
I’d also mention that I walked to all these appointments because it’s the end of the month and there is no money for taking taxis. It was 31 degrees celsius here. That might not seem like much to some, but I’m sure someone who reads this will have the experience of having to take medication that really messes up your internal temperature and you have photosensitivity. It can make summers very difficult.
I also had several flights of stairs to climb. Normally, that’s not a huge issue. But earlier in the year I broke my knee cap and had surgery to repair it. Knee surgery is not a quick recovery. I am still dependent on a cane to go up and down the stairs.
So that’s my situation. I didn’t tell you all of that so I could complain but rather to explain why I’m very pooped, sore, and in need of quiet time.
I am reminded of a conversation I had a few years ago with a mentor. We talked about disability and not being able to work a regular job. That mentor said to me, “For you, managing your health IS a full-time job.” Today, that rang true.
I am home now and it is late afternoon. I have a lot of follow up to do with two of the doctors and with the social services for funding to get certain things paid for. But, I’ve sorted out my paperwork and left it for the rest of the day. I’ll call the pharmacy tomorrow. I know when I’ve crossed my limit and need to just be still, quiet, and rest. The hard thing for me, and probably for many, is that we either fly way past our limits and notice afterward when it really starts to hurt or we simply are in situations where there isn’t a choice.
My heart goes out to all the parents out there
I’d also like to talk to the people who just aren’t comfortable with quiet time. This a real deal for many. We get used to constant stimulation. We run from boredom. Quiet feels unnatural and might even scare us. I can understand this. For whatever reason, there comes a point where the brain and the body come to a screeching halt and will seize the quiet whether we want it or not.
In the Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff books there was a chapter about embracing boredom. I wouldn’t quite frame it that way, but I’d say that embracing periods of quiet is beneficial. Each day we have a certain amount of energy to spend. There is physical energy to spend as well as emotional energy to spend. Also, there is that fancy term “cognitive load” which refers to the number of things our brain is engaged in.
The stress response is quite interesting to read about. If we don’t take care of ourselves, eventually we burn out, we shut down, and we die. It’s legitimate to say that stress is a killer.
Nowadays we see a lot of information coming out about noise pollution. I urge you to pause and try to remember the last time things were absolutely quiet for a moment. The last time I had that experience was during a power outage. Even when everything is turned off, there is still the 60hz hum of electricity and the compressor in the fridge. I paused during that power outage and I actually felt really good during the experience.
I’m a musician and so I know a bit about volume. The decibel levels at some concerts have been measured and have exceeded that of a jumbo jet taking off. We all know that can’t be good for us. That said, there’s lots of good to be said about going to a concert once in a while.
So, I’ve made a partial argument about the attack on our ears. To complete that argument I’d have you stand on the street corner as a low-riding Honda Civic with those noisy exhausts and the stomach flipping subwoofers drives by. I even find the rumbling bass in popular movie theatre chains to make me feel queasy. Mythbusters did an interesting show about that.
And, coming from the eye doctor, I should mention that our eyes take a beating each day too. For many people, being in a shopping mall lit with fluorescent bulbs can mean a severe headache. There is also evidence that many people are effected by the popular energy efficient bulbs.
Think about screen time. I spend a lot of my day on the computer. It takes its toll. Television, same deal. I don’t have one, but sitting in the doctor’s waiting room I noticed several people with their heads down absorbed in their phones. I am thankful for companies noticing that our eyes can get tired… like Amazon did with the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. I have one and it was a good investment because I love to read. For gamers, there are “gaming eyeglasses“. They look a little funny, but who cares. They aren’t cheap, but if you like your video games, you probably would benefit from the investment. But, I’m not here to suggest shopping lists. My point is, your eyes need a break!
Quiet time is something to think about. If you can’t find a block of time in your schedule, that’s okay. I would suggest taking quiet moments. Gently close your eyes and get away from all the stimuli. An easy tip might be to just take a long toilet break — tell others that you ate one too many chili cheese burritos at Taco Bell. I bet they’ll allow you some privacy and peace.
I have to say that I feel satisfied with myself for addressing my health needs and for showing up to participate in the search for wellness and quality of life. I was really proud of myself this afternoon for actually saying “no” to a request for me to go back out and attend to some things. I was polite about it and explained that I had a busy day and I needed to stay home now, and could we make it for another day. No problem!
There is an underlying wisdom to having periods of quiet and stillness. We know, on a deep level, that all the stimulation, seemingly unavoidable, is not good for our body and minds. Perhaps we are gently moving away from the glorification of things like “speed reading” and multitasking. Perhaps we can enjoy just a moment of quiet.
I’d love to hear ways that you find quiet time!
Please leave a comment!