We ask you to take a moment. Close your eyes. Take a couple of deep breaths and clear your head. Let your mind transport you to the outdoors. Not just anywhere, but somewhere in nature. It could be a place you know, or a place you wish to explore one day.
What do you see? Maybe you see trees all around you with a furry rabbit in the distance.
What do you feel? Perhaps the wind blowing through your hair and the warm sun on your skin.
What do you smell? Possibly a meadow full of spring flowers after a light rain.
Lastly, what do you hear?
Whatever your answer is to the last question may be one of the most effective ways to help you reduce stress and improve health. In fact, researchers from Carleton University, Colorado State University and Michigan State University partnered with the National Park Service to analyze 18 previous studies on how natural sounds can impact human health. The results, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that listening to the sounds in nature, including birds, water and wind, may decrease stress and pain, improve cognitive performance, mood and much more.
During this recent study, particular nature sounds were found to bring more specific benefits. Bird sounds, for instance are best for combatting stress or annoyance while the sound of water helps positive emotion and health outcomes. This reinforces the idea that exploring nature can benefit a person’s well-being, both physically and mentally.
Do you ever wonder why spas tend to play sounds of rushing water over rocks, birds chirping, wind whooshing or rain falling? The spa wants you to feel relaxed and reenergized and these nature sounds help with that goal.
The sounds of the outdoors naturally relax and reassure us. You know a storm is over when the birds begin to sing, winter has come to an end and spring is here when you hear the frogs at night and your best night’s sleep is to the calming river waters.
Spending just a few hours a week outdoors listening to nature can enhance your well-being. A simple walk outside will provide you with some distinct nature sounds and sights which can be a great refresher for your brain. While we encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer, we understand it may not be that easy for you.
If you live in an urban area and are unable to get to a more remote location, try opening the window and listening for birds, buzzing bees and the wind’s whisper. You could also consider going to a park or walk a nearby trail.
If you have children, take them outside and explore the sounds of nature together by playing fun games such as, listening and finding five nature sounds or counting the number of different bird calls and guessing what they are saying.
- Click here to listen to a few of Missouir’s birdsongs.
- Click here to hear a cricket’s summer soundtrack.
To get the full “healing” effect of nature sounds, a walk on a trail or a kayak trip on some calm waters are excellent ways to reduce stress and give your health a nature boost. Get outside, Explore More and enjoy nature. The outdoors is for everyone, and we challenge you to find which nature sounds best give your health a little boost. Find more fun and safe activites for a healthy summer at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.