The pandemic has caused a collective rise in anxiety and stress, meaning trying to find the best meditation apps, self-care hacks, and practicing mindfulness, along with trying to get outside as much as possible, have become the norm. A new study has found that sounds for mental health are something to consider and that in particular, sounds of nature, can be seriously beneficial. So, that urge to go walk among trees and birdsong can actually do you the world of good!
The study comes from a group of US scientists who have been exploring the health benefits of ‘natural soundscapes’ revealing how visiting national parks can improve your mental wellbeing.
According to the study, sounds such as birds chirping, wind and rain can make us feel better. It says: ‘The results affirm that natural sounds improve health, increase positive affect, and lower stress and annoyance.’ It makes sense – we know a lot of harsh sounds can make us feel irritated and anxious, so softer, natural sounds would likely make us feel calm.
Speaking to Yahoo, Rachel Buxton, co-author of the study from the University of Ottawa said: ‘In so many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of nature for human health.’
She continued: ‘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 these sounds are also good for our health.’
Although it’s not really clear why natural sounds help us, it’s proven that they do. The study shows that sounds have a positive impact on our mood and even on pain.
When it comes to sounds for mental health, the study said that ‘natural sounds versus no sound, significantly improved health and positive affect and decreased stress and annoyance.’ Nature may be able to ‘replenish attention through unconscious, cognitive processes’ while urban environments make us tired and fatigued.
‘Nature does not require directed attention, and simultaneously elicits pleasure and relaxation’ said the scientists.
They also explored national parks in the study and said they should be protected and utilized as a way to boost health, with quiet zones and mindfulness walks.
It’s reassuring to know that being out and about in the great outdoors can be beneficial for our health. You could even just open up your windows if you’re working from home to hear some birds singing and take a moment to be quiet and meditate.
Going outside for fresh air means you’re not only changing your surroundings and escaping, you’re also surrounded with natural sounds, smells, natural light and a change in temperature – all things that can help you to feel more relaxed.