The sound of silence : why noise is bad for you

effectsofnoiseI have a confession.

I struggle to cope with noise.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the whole nightclub/pub thing and even played musical instruments in orchestras but, over recent years, I have found it increasingly difficult to cope with ‘prolonged’ noise. I also find places where there is a cacophony of noise difficult too.

When I am in a noisy environment I can literally feel my blood pressure rising – it’s like a kind of panic almost – and the need to escape the noise is overwhelming. I often dream of being on an isolated island with just the cat for company (!) which until I read this article I figured it was all a part of me getting old – apparently not – yet I am not sure if the article has made me feel better or worse about my situation.

The article (How noise can make you fat, stressed and more likely to have a stroke…) featured in the Daily Mail online (31/10/16) quotes from the World Health Organisation:

“…noise pollution is one of the most pressing threats to public health, second only to air pollution, and responsible for a range of conditions from stress and sleep problems to heart disease and strokes — it can even make us fat.”

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Evidently our bodies respond to noise by triggering the ‘fight or flight’ instinct. Our body will begin to produce several stress hormones and, if the noise is prolonged, eventually our bodies will start to produce cortisol which is a stress hormone that can negatively affect health. The article states several risks from this such as increased blood pressure, risk of stroke, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and sleep problems.

I must admit that although I knew I was stressed by noise, I had no idea that it could pose a risk to my health but I guess it follows that if I am stressed then my blood pressure will rise and I know that’s not a good thing.

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Image courtesy of digital art via freedigitalphotos.net

In my personal circumstances it is impossible to live without noise. My youngest son is severely autistic (amongst other conditions) and to him, noise is a stimuli. He makes as much noise as is humanly possible for as long as possible, which I know has not helped my situation.

Clearly there is little that I can do to stop the noise created by my son, however, the article does suggest simple changes such as achieving a period of ‘quiet time’ each day – even ten minutes can be beneficial, it says. There was one other basic piece of advice which I have followed too, one which again I had given absolutely no thought to. I have changed the notification tone on my phone and tablet. I had a rather adorable old-fashioned ‘choo choo’ noise selected for email notifications, however, it was quite loud. Now I have changed this to a small ‘tweet’ sound, a bit like that of a bird, which, given my desire to be out in the wilds, is actually much more preferable.

For me it was an interesting read, not least because it means that I do genuinely have a reason for struggling with my tolerance to noise which has nothing to do with getting old. I know of some writers who cannot write unless they are accompanied by the radio or their favourite music but I am not one of those. I have realised that I really need my ‘quiet time’ and my ‘tweet tweet’ noise to keep my stress levels lowered and, if I can do this then I won’t be stifling my creativity – another potential side effect of too much exposure to noise.

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My only regret is that it is no longer the 1980’s because if it was, I could get away with wearing pink, fluffy ear muffs… sigh…

What about you? Can any of you relate to my struggle with noise?

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In the news: Nikon Coolpix

Okay, so it’s not in the actual news, but it’s my news and I figured that would count for one week..

I was given an early birthday present yesterday from my entire family – a Nikon Coolpix L340 digital camera – which is something that I wanted so that I could take quality photos. These I can then hope to use to accompany articles when I am submitting them.

I am a novice photographer but the Nikon is excellent – so I thought I’d share a few of my early photo attempts. Just by way of a change…

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In the news : Jane Austen to feature on the new £10 note

serge bertasius photography

serge bertasius photography via freedigitalphotos.net

One of our literary greats, Jane Austen, has been picked to be the face of the new British £10 note which is due into circulation next summer. According to the Daily Mail (DM 29/05/16 – The money that’s okay to launder), we will soon be seeing our first ‘plastic’ banknote in the shape of a £5 note which will feature Sir Winston Churchill. The £10 note will follow next year and a £20 note featuring Joseph Mallord William Turner (landscape painter) is planned for 2020.

The Bank of England have created a new, flexible, polymer note which they claim will last around five years and will even be able to survive a 90 degree wash cycle. These new notes will also be slightly smaller than those currently in circulation and are predicted to save around £100 million over a ten year period on the basis that the bank should need to print fewer notes.

One thing that the Bank of England does warn about with these new notes however, is that we are going to need to take care when using them. It would seem that the polymer plastic notes have a tendency to stick together which could mean us handing over more money than we need to!

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Iamnee via freedigitalphotos.net

The proposed concept of the £10 note includes this quote by Jane Austen:

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

And I must declare, I do agree!

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(For the full story, please see the Daily Mail 29/05/2016.)

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In the news: Driverless cars

Car 1Google, according to a recent article in the Daily Mail (‘Driverless car “flypaper” to catch collision victims’ – DM May 21st 2016), are well on their way to developing the ‘driverless’ car. In fact, it estimates that we could see these cars on our (UK) roads as early as 2020.

My first thought was why? Why do we need driverless cars when we have enough trouble with cars that are controlled by people? Then I read on…

These cars it would seem, are potentially going to have ‘sticky’ bonnets. A glue like substance will be applied to the bonnet which in turn will be covered with an eggshell type paint. The idea is that if the car hits an object the paint will shatter allowing the object to stick to the bonnet, thus, minimising injury. I must admit, I had a giggle. Does this mean that on an average journey you can expect to return home with various accoutrements and the odd pedestrian stuck to your bonnet? And what happens to these items when you get home? What if the pedestrian was going several miles in the other direction?

Google states that the glue will allow the objects to be removed after a ‘period of time’ so does this mean that our paramedics are going to need to carry nail polish remover or some similar substance?

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digitalart via freedigitalphotos.net

After a while I got to thinking – maybe driverless cars are not such a bad idea. Imagine being able to have a cuppa and even a nap whilst you are on route. Or perhaps, a cheeky tipple. Who knows what the law will be in that regard?

As it stands I cannot imagine seeing these cars on our roads but I am sure that is purely because I do not understand the concept or the need. When the time comes I have no doubt that all will be revealed and, even if by 2020 I still don’t get it, there is a massive plus side.

At least I won’t need to pay for my son to have driving lessons.

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(This is purely my humorous take on this piece of news – no offence intended or meant)

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