Listening to Nature Sounds for Relaxation, Stress Reduction, and Sleep
Nature is the Best Medicine
How often do you go outside and just sit? How often do you play outside with your kids or go for walks? How often do you garden or do yard work? How often do you appreciate what nature has to offer? As a modern society, particularly in the United States, most of us spend 90% of our time indoors, according to a study done in 2016. That includes children and teenagers. We sit in front of computer screens, television screens, tablets, and smart phones and wonder why we are stressed out and feel disconnected. We wonder why we have high anxiety and go through bouts of depression.
The problem is simply this - we aren't getting enough of nature! There have been proven correlations between humans' exposure to the outside world and physical and mental health. For example, in a study done by Stanford in 2015, quantifiable evidence was found when studying a group of individuals who would take 90 minute walks in nature compared to other individuals who would take 90 minute walks in urban settings. The people who took walks in nature for 90 minutes were less likely to develop depression (Stanford, 2015). The conclusion = we need nature to relax and promote health! Read on to learn of a simple way to bring more nature into your life, reduce stress and anxiety, and relax more thoroughly.
In an impromptu online survey, fire was one of the two most popular choices for relaxing nature sounds. Probably one of my favorite sounds in the world is the sound of a crackling fire. Whether in a fireplace, firepit, or a huge bonfire, the sound of logs cracking and the flames burning really puts me into a relaxed state of mind. Fire, one of the four main elements, has many beneficial qualities, and has been used by humans for millions of years for these qualities. It gives us warmth on cold nights, provides light in the darkness, and gives us a medium on which to cook food.
While fire has a darker side and can be a ravenous, forest-fire, destroying forests and homes in its path, its overall benefits to mankind far outweigh its cons. You can harness fire's healing qualities by listening to it in times of stress and anxiety. Don't have a fireplace or firepit? No problem! Look up fireside sounds on YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, and other music and sound applications to find free or cheap fire sounds for relaxation. Below I've posted a free sound slice from YouTube of eight hours of fireplace sounds. Bookmark this article and come back to listen to the fire any time you feel anxiety or stress in your life.
Studies on Nature as Medicine:
- Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature
Study finds that walking in nature yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce risk of depression.
- Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments - ScienceDirect
- What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health?
Creek or River Over Rocks
Another very relaxing, stress-reducing sound in nature is the sound of water running over rocks. We find this sound in nature next to a bubbling, running creek or a river running over rocks. Many people find the sound of water, in general, as one of the most relaxing, meditative sounds provided by nature. Though there are some that find the sound of water unnerving. It really depends on the person and their experiences. If you enjoy the sound of water, why not try adding it to your daily routine?
Before bed at night, particularly if you have a hard time going to sleep, listen to the sound of a bubbling brook or a creek or river running over rocks. It will soothe you and put you into a state of peace and relaxation. It is also great for relieving stress. If you work at a stressful job, and have time to put in a pair of earbuds for 10 to 15 minutes, play a sound slice of running water, and watch your stress get carried away with the river!
Ocean Waves and Waterfalls
In my online survey, the second most popular choice of relaxing nature sounds was the sound of the ocean breaking against the shore. Again, water seems to be a favorite. There's something about the ocean, for many human beings, that seems to call to us. No matter where we live in the landscape, so many of us travel miles to get to the ocean. To sit on the beach with our feet in the sand, listening to the sound of the ocean waves, seems to be a favorite pastime and vacation for the majority. Another wonderful nature sound is the sound of waterfalls. It sounds similar to the ocean waves and is just as relaxing.
If you need to relieve stress, decrease anxiety, or help sleeping, try listening to the sound of ocean waves or waterfalls. Whether in your earbuds, on a sound machine, or live, the sound of water in many forms serves to relax and refresh us. And don't forget to take a beach vacation or a trip to your nearest waterfalls to get in touch with water in its natural state.
Wind in the Trees
For some, they say fire and water don't do the trick to relax them. Some say the sound of a breeze blowing through the trees is all they need to relieve anxiety and relax thoroughly. The sound of wind in the trees might remind us of a memorable camping trip in our distant past. Or perhaps it reminds us of relaxing, crisp fall evenings in which our worries were swept away by the breeze.
In my online survey, this was the least chosen nature sound; however, those who chose it made mention of specific trees - fir and pine. For me, I love the sound of wind in the oak trees in my backyard. On a mild day or evening, when the wind is blowing, sit outside and listen to it moving through the branches and leaves high above. Close your eyes, and let the sound sink in. You might find your stress blowing away, your anxiety lessening, and you might even find yourself in a meditative state - open to what the universe and life has in store. You can also listen to the sound of wind in the trees on music and sound applications, and also on YouTube for free!
In addition to listening to the soothing sounds of nature to help relieve stress and increase a sense of wellbeing, make an effort to get outside. Experience what nature has to offer you for your state of mind and overall holistic health. It not only has a positive effect on your mind, but also your body and soul. If you can only go into your garden or backyard, go out and sit beneath a tree or on your balcony. If you can go for a walk around the neighborhood or in the woods, try to do this at least once a week. When you decide to go on a vacation, go somewhere remote like a trip to the woods or mountains or go to a more secluded beach.
Nature is good for us, and we don't get enough of it in our daily lives. Give it a try. I promise you won't regret it!
© 2018 Nicole Canfield