The rustling of the wind in the leaves of a mighty white oak. The pretty and fine whistle of the sparrow. The trickle of water from a flowing stream. It is the sounds of the forest that bring peace, and there is now evidence of what many of us already suspect: the sounds of nature prime our bodies for better health.
Study results: Forest sounds promote well-being
In 2019, British researchers set out to find out whether common noises that can be heard in a forest actually improve a person’s well-being.
They exposed 600 study participants to silence, forest sounds and a meditation app.
Here are some of the key findings:
– When people listened to nature sounds, they experienced a 30% increase in relaxation.
– Those who listened to a meditation app did not see an increase in relaxation.
– Nature sounds also reduced stress by 24% and anxiety by 19%.
Here’s how study participants ranked their preferences for forest sounds:
2 A Flowing Stream
3 The wind that rustles the leaves of the trees
5 The crunch of twigs underfoot
6 Animal Sounds
7 The Wind Whistles In The Trees
8 Rain falling on the leaves
9 Tree seeds hitting the ground
10 Mud Crunch
There is a large body of scientific evidence showing that experiencing nature can benefit health and well-being, including recovery from everyday psychological stress. Most of this research has focused on visual experiences, but more recent work has shown that nature sounds, such as birdsong, wind and water, can also improve mood and reduce stress. . These sounds offer a way to connect with nature, wherever you are. Maybe it’s time we all took the time to listen to nature.
Other benefits of being outdoors in nature
Forest bathing, which involves immersing yourself in a forest environment, has been shown to have many beneficial effects, including the following:
– a strengthening of the immune function
– a drop in blood pressure
– A more balanced nervous system
– stress reduction
– Improved creativity
– a reduction in neural activity in an area of the brain linked to the risk of mental illness.
According to a 2019 study, listening to sounds from the forest improves well-being even more than a meditation app. Study participants cited birdsong, a stream, and the rustling of the wind as their top three nature sounds. The health benefits of green spaces often focus on visual aspects, but emerging research suggests that hearing songs from the natural environment reduces anxiety and induces relaxation, too.