Arline Bronzaft, PhD is an environmental psychologist in New York City who studies the impact of noise on mental and physical well-being. Bronzaft and other environmental psychologists believe that big city noise pollution is a hidden threat to our wellbeing.
Bronzaft works with urban planners and city governments to find ways to reduce noise such as planting more trees and passing legislations to limit honking and other noises.
In study after study, it has been found that city life (with its congestion and multiple environmental stressors) is something that affects us. But city life can be great too! There’s public transportation to (usually) zip you all over your city in less time than it would take to drive there. Big cities have lots of entertainment options and more nightlife to enjoy. They also has more job opportunities, can help you make interesting friends, and expand your life in ways that living in small towns can’t.
So moving is out of the question. But there are ways to love your urban jungle while protecting your wellness.
With some sound therapy and noise reduction strategies, you can take preventative measures against psychological distress. Here are seven things you can do.
1. Take advantage of parks, libraries and other quiet spaces
People like Bronzaft and urban planners built them for this very purpose.
2. Noise-proof your windows
You may need to convince your landlord to switch out single-pane windows with double-pane ones. The more expensive soundproof windows can even reduce outside noise by as much as 95%.
3. Take early-morning classes
Going to classes and the gym when fewer people are around such as in the early morning, will lower the stress of dealing with too many people.
4. Commute around rush-hour
You may want to go to work earlier when traffic and commuter congestion is less or do something near work for a couple of hours in the evenings. Either with one or both legs of your commute shortened, you’re going to make time for things you want to do and deal with less traffic.
5. Have a morning meditation practice
For that added Zen to kick off your day, try any of the many meditative practices like yoga, meditation, journaling, writing, or other hobbies that encourage quiet.
6. Use music and white noise machines
They will help to block out the big city noise pollution you’ve been tolerating. With music or healthier sounds filling your home, you can replace a negative with something that has positive effects on your wellbeing. In addition to white noise machines and music, consider wind-chimes and noise-reducing curtains as well.
7. Get out of town
Just because you love the city doesn’t mean you need to throw away your small town connections. Try to get away from the city some weekends and whenever you can to go home and reconnect with your roots.