How to Reduce Noise Pollution's Negative Effects

Noise pollution can negatively impact the body in significant ways, including elevated blood pressure, impaired cognitive functioning, and other effects of chronic stress. The following are effective strategies you can use to limit the negative impact of noise pollution and safeguard your health and happiness.

Limit the Noise

Split room view of couple annoyed by a noisy neighbor playing guitar

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Your first line of defense against noise pollution is to do what you can to control your environment, and limit the noise that enters your space. The following are ways that you can limit environmental noise and blunt the effects of noise pollution:

  • Double-paned windows and weather stripping: If you live in a noisy city or near an airport, you can reduce noise in your home considerably by installing dual-paned windows, weather stripping, and even added insulation. As a bonus, these changes can also reduce your heating and cooling bills, and help the environment.
  • Reduce workplace noise: If you work in a noisy office, you may want to talk to your employer about taking steps to reduce office noise, which has been found to affect the health and productivity of workers.
  • Turn off the TV: When you’re at home, a constant backdrop of television can have an effect on you as a distraction and potential stressor.
  • Make bigger changes: You may even consider moving or changing jobs if you experience significant levels of noise that you can’t reduce in other ways. It sounds like a drastic step, but considering the toll that a noisy environment can take on your health, it may be an option to consider.

Replace Stressful Sounds With Pleasing Sounds

Man wearing noise canceling headphones

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If you can’t eliminate noise from your environment, you can actually create a healthier environment by replacing stress-inducing environmental sounds with more pleasing ones.

For example, you can reduce the impact of airport or city noise with a white noise machine or sound spa. They play sounds ranging from waterfalls to rain to babbling brooks to basic static, and these sounds mask the more jarring environmental noises that can distract you or negatively affect your sleep. They can also make it easier to meditate or practice visualization techniques.

Additionally, you can drown out distracting sounds from a noisy office environment or neighborhood with music from your phone or computer and a set of noise-canceling headphones. By doing this, you can enjoy the stress management and health benefits of music while lessening the impact of the other noise. This can also improve your mood, boost your immunity, calm your physiology, or energize you.

While you’re really trading some sounds for others, the sounds of nature or music can be more soothing and better for your health.

Safeguard Your Health From Noise Pollution

Woman meditating with candles in the foreground

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Because part of the toll of noise pollution is due to the activation of the body’s stress response, it stands to reason that you can counteract some of these ill effects by regularly using techniques that can reverse your body’s physiological changes that come with chronic stress.

Some of the most effective techniques you can use include:

  • Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing and other breathing exercises work well because they can be done anywhere and are effective in calming the body’s physiology in minutes.
  • Meditation: Meditation is also an extremely effective stress reliever because it calms the physiology and even helps alter brain chemistry so that, over time, you are less reactive to stress as it happens.
  • Yoga The practice of yoga is a great stress reliever because it combines breathing and meditation, and adds an element of exercise to be a stress reliever that acts on several different levels to benefit your health. It also provides a simple way to ease into meditation, for those who find it to be a bit of a challenge at first.

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.