If you’re feeling stressed, try turning on some nature sounds.
A new study added some scientific enlightenment to the easily believed idea that nature sounds help people relax. Researchers played nature sounds and artificial sounds, in turn, for study participants while measuring brain activity with an MRI scanner and nervous system activity with a heart rate monitor.
The team found that when participants were listening to artificial sounds, their brains showed an inward-directed focus of attention–mirroring patterns seen for people experiencing anxiety, PTSD, and depression. With the natural sounds, they saw the opposite effect: Focus shifted outward. Furthermore, rest-digest nervous system activity increased with nature sounds, indicating relaxation of the body, and participants could better perform an attention monitoring task.
I put on some nature sounds while writing this blog, and I liked it! I found plenty of tracks through my music streaming service, but I checked and you can also download free smartphone apps that play nature sounds. I like that you can reap some of the benefits of being in nature without actually going outside!
Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.