How you can benefit from the sounds of nature.
I’ve always thought that wildlife encounters are all about what you see. We’ve been lucky enough to have sightings of animals in their natural habitat which have been truly wonderful and awe-inspiring.
However I’m appreciating more and more the value of what I can hear (and can’t hear) when I’m outside in nature.
So I started looking into whether any clinical research has been done into the benefits of listening to the sounds of nature. I found some very interesting results.
Research into listening to the sounds of nature.
The studies I read were conducted in a similar way. In laboratory conditions participants listened to recordings of sounds including bird song and waves. Equipment such as heart rate monitors and MRI scans measured physical responses. In some cases, participants also described the effect of the sounds on their mental wellbeing.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that listening to pleasant natural sounds makes most people feel more relaxed.
However there were other potential benefits: lower blood pressure; reduced feelings of stress and irritation; a more positive outlook; improved cognitive performance and lessening of physical pain.
One study highlighted that people who were most stressed registered the greatest relaxation benefits.
Opportunities for listening to the sounds of nature.
There are plenty of recordings of natural sounds to listen to for relaxation. You also may find that you experience some of the other benefits identified in the studies.
However if it’s available to you, there’s nothing to match being out there in nature.
Closing your eyes really makes you focus on what you can hear – try just 5 minutes sitting surrounded by woodland, on rocks above the sea or lying back in a quiet spot in a park.
Lying in the sand dunes at Blakeney Point in Norfolk is one of my favourites, not least because there is no road noise.
If you’re outside, you get a greater sensory experience. While you’re focusing on sounds, you’ll feel the natural elements. I’ve been out in all weathers and all make me feel good in some way.
Further investigation into soundscapes.
A research project is currently taking place into sounds heard by visitors to UK National Parks. Researchers are asking us to send in our recordings from a park with a note about how the sound makes us feel.
For more information about the project or to submit a recording: https://www.petestollery.com/nplandingpagepublic
For more information from research into listening to nature sounds: https://neurosciencenews.com/nature-sound-relaxation-6311/