As we head into a new season, now’s the perfect time to get outside.
If you haven’t lately, be sure to take some time to enjoy the great outdoors to recharge. Especially since the latest research demonstrates how nature helps accelerate the body’s ability to rebound from stress.
Now I want you to picture your last day on the beach, hike in the woods, or evening walk.
Can you recall all the peaceful sounds and how they made you feel?
Perhaps you heard the crashing of waves, a trickling stream, chirping crickets, whistling songbirds, or a soothing thunderstorm.
Though it’s easy to take nature’s soundtrack for granted, those sounds can be among the most helpful remedies in easing your body and mind—particularly when you’re stressed or upset.
But for some people, getting completely immersed in the calming ambience of the beach or the woods isn’t always possible.
The good news is that you can still enjoy some of nature’s stress reducing benefits in the comfort of your home, car, office… or wherever you may roam.
THE TRANQUIL EFFECTS OF NATURE TRIUMPH
In a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers set out to gauge how one’s sound environment affects stress recovery.
Forty subjects were exposed to recorded sounds from either nature or urban environments after enduring multiple rounds of high-stress mathematic testing. In between each testing period was a window of “recovery.”
During each recovery period, participants were exposed to either:
• Nature noises: This included the sounds of a running fountain and chirping birds.
• Urban noises: This included either loud road traffic noise, moderate road traffic noise, or ambient outdoor noise.
Then, researchers administered a skin prick test to measure the participant’s stress levels.
Not surprisingly, they discovered that the nature sounds produced the quickest recovery from the stress of the test, while the “loud traffic sound” produced the slowest recovery.
HOW ENVIRONMENTAL SOUNDS AFFECT OUR BODILY SYSTEMS
What I found interesting was the way the researchers attributed these results to the inter-workings of the nervous system and how it reacts to sound.
For instance, loud traffic sounds were found to activate the body’s sympathetic system (this is what kicks in when we’re in fight or flight mode), while soothing nature sounds were shown to activate the parasympathetic system (when our bodies are in a state of comfort or rest).
These results do give me cause for concern for those of us who live in cities or in areas where there’s a seemingly endless supply of noise…
So what can you do if where you live makes it harder for you to bounce back from stress?
Sure, you could always move to the woods (ha!), or you can try these much simpler, convenient techniques.
CREATE AN AMPHITHEATER OF STRESS REDUCTION
1. Add some zen to what will now become your relaxation refuge.
It can be your office, bedroom, or even your kitchen. Add a few calming physical objects like a small table-top fountain, candle, plant, or lamp with warm lighting.
2. Cue up some nature sounds.
There are plenty of CDs available in this genre.
You can find a good amount of free tracks or curated playlists via YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify, or Apple Music. Simplify your search by using the following keywords: “nature,” “nature sounds,” “natural soundscapes,” or “nature music.”
3. To really take things to the next level, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones (I really like Bose) and enjoy the relaxing sounds of nature in your new, relaxing environment.
I recommend listening to nature sounds for at least thirty minutes to an hour to really give yourself a chance to let the stress melt away. Of course, you can listen to these sounds for longer if you’d like!
Funny enough, as I write this, I’m listening to the sounds of ocean waves to block out the everyday noises that come from having a family of five and a noisy (but very lovable) little dog.
I do the same thing whenever I’m traveling and am trying to sleep in the unfamiliar surroundings of my hotel.
The bottom line is to be more aware of the noise in your immediate environment and how it affects you—especially in times of high-stress.
So whether you take a quick walk around the block, a hike in the woods, or take matters into your own hands by curating your own personal “natural soundscape,” it’s important to make time for yourself to decompress in whatever way feels best for you.
Be Well, Jim
P.S. Explore the natural benefits from music, sound, and rhythm, by joining my Donovan Sound Healing Circle which gives you unlimited access to every single one of sound based wellness methods and courses for less than $9/mo! Simply click here to learn more or give it try today.
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