Noise and Stress—How Do They Affect Us?
“MOST of the centenarians in the world have been found in the foothills or valleys of mountainous regions,” observes science writer Dr. D. Davies. Why? People who live in such places “are calm by nature, and living, usually in such isolated places, there is little to cause stress,” he states.
Those observations were made after a comparative study of people who live to be 100 years of age. These people included the Abkhasians of the Soviet Union and the Hunzas of Kashmir. Rarely do these tranquil 100-year-olds suffer from heart disease, cancer and other common sicknesses.
Unfortunately, for most of us this 20th century has been anything but tranquil. It has experienced two world wars—the most devastating and far-reaching in history—and scores of other wars. The number of persons physically maimed or severely damaged emotionally is staggering. And with daily violence increasing on the streets and in the homes, together with the fear of a nuclear holocaust, people are experiencing greater stress. Also, with more material possessions and a commercial world that is constantly urging people to go places and do things, many persons try to cram too much into their days, adding to their stress.
Daily exposure to sound levels averaging 90 decibels or more is known to cause hearing damage and increased stress. In an article “Noise at Work” the British Medical Journal expressed concern for 600,000 Britons who “work in noise levels above an average of 90 decibels—noisy enough to make shouting necessary for talking to someone standing at arm’s length.” It then referred to studies showing that noise pollution causes “higher blood pressures and incidences of hypertension.” With the combined racket of factories, jet aircraft, traffic and modern music with a heavy beat, we live in an environment that induces much stress. In turn, stress contributes to various nervous disorders, heart disease, strokes and many other ills.
To escape from a noisy environment some people change their jobs or move. As for stress, many resort to painkillers or tranquilizers. However, less drastic, effective measures can be taken. Getting enough sleep, engaging in regular exercise and balancing work with wholesome recreation have helped many find relief from stress. But regardless of what can be done by individuals to lessen their own stress, the fact is that it is on the increase everywhere.
[Picture on page 4]
Stress is on the increase all over the world