why noise is so stressful

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why stress happens

When i talked about stress management before i said that stress happens when two different things compete for the same brain resources in the same time.

If for example you were trying to complete an important task but in the same time your phone was ringing non-stop then probably you will get very stressed. The reason stress happens in such a case is that while a part of your brain is focused on the task something else is competing for the attention of that part. See How to control stress levels

Now the same exactly happens with noise. Noise is always a distracting event that distorts your attention away from whatever you are doing and this is why it causes stress.

why noise is so stressful

You might be wondering why noise can cause so much stress where as a song might not cause the same amount of stress.

When you listen to a song the rhythm and the music follows a certain pattern and this is why the brain can anticipate the upcoming sounds. Not only does this anticipation make the sounds less stressful but they also make the song more enjoyable. See Why the song Despacito became so popular.

Now the problem with noise is that it's highly unpredictable and so you can't really tell what kind of sound would be coming next. This high level of unpredictability puts the brain in an overly alert state that takes a big part of its resources. See also What causes intolerance

And now that the brain has became overly occupied with the noise it becomes very hard to focus on the task at hand and so the person gets stressed. This is also the reason why noise only stresses us when we are already focused on something else or when we are already stressed.

How much stress are you subjected to?

Do you think that you are being subjected to high levels of stress?

The noisy neighborhood you live in might be responsible for a big part of that stress. Your brain might actually be getting stressed everyday because of that noise without you noticing. See also Why Multitasking leads to stress

The reason this can get so tricky is that you might not be paying conscious attention to the daily amount of stress you get subjected to because of that background noise.

If you live or work in a noisy place then you can reduce the daily amount of stress you get subjected to by simply putting on ear plugs or isolating the noise in any possible way.

The total amount of stress you will be experiencing at any point of your life will depend on many factors that you might not be consciously noticing. An uncomfortable work environment, a problem that you are thinking about or the noise that you get subjected to might be contributing to the amount of stress you are experiencing every single day.

Reduce the noise in your environment and you will experience much less stress in your life.

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