I can’t think of much that’s more relaxing than strolling through a park and listening to a bird song or a flowing creek. That’s because nature’s sounds clear the mind, rejuvenate the spirit and inspire me more than almost any other experience can. And I’m sure I’m not alone in appreciating these gifts that come from spending time outdoors.
Now, according to a new study, there’s one more way that nature might positively impact your life and your health – even if you can’t spend that much time outdoors…
The sounds of water and bird song
The study, by researchers at Carleton, Michigan State, Colorado State Universities, as well as the National Park Service, took a deep dive into how the sounds of nature can improve our lives.
The team utilized recordings from 251 sites across 66 US national parks, discovering impressive health benefits.
In fact, the researchers say that from bird song and the patter of rain to wolves howling, the sounds of nature have the power to:
- Decrease pain
- Reduce stress
- Boost mood
- Improve cognitive performance
And if you’re looking for specific effects, the researchers say that nature’s song can deliver…
The team found that the sounds of water offered the biggest boon when it came to improving positive emotions and even health outcomes.
On the other hand, to reduce stress and annoyance, bird songs will have you singing along.
“In so many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of nature for human health,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Rachel Buxton, a researcher at Carleton University. “As traffic has declined during quarantine, many people have connected with soundscapes in a whole new way, noticing the relaxing sounds of birds singing just outside their window. How remarkable that these sounds are also good for our health.”
The potentially harmful effects of noise
According to the researchers, these findings also illustrate the often harmful side effects of noises in our world.
So while listening to a bird tweet or a brook babble could make you healthier and happier, other types of noises could be damaging.
They point out that being mindful of noise management and controlling the sounds you are exposed to can make a big difference in your health.
How can you do that?
Well, when you do get the time to spend outdoors, consider whether you are in an urban area with noise pollution or a peaceful, “quiet zone” that can benefit your body and your mind.
Next, try adding nature recordings to your daily life.
Although you might not be able to visit a national park every day, you can bring the sounds of nature found there to you. You can find a wealth of nature recordings on CD, featuring everything from croaking frogs to rainstorms and crashing thunder on Amazon.
And if you live in an area where opening your windows at night makes sense, you might try enjoying the sound of your own backyard as you fall asleep. You may be surprised to discover how many creatures come out to play when the sun goes down. Listening to nature’s song at bedtime could be your key to less pain and stress, as well as overall better health.
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