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A good natural remedy to relax is the sounds of nature

Harold Mandel's picture
Relaxing in nature

Researchers say that it is actually true that the sounds of nature can help us relax.


The modern world brings with it a great deal of tension. The noises alone from traffic, airplanes, helicopters, machines, and elsewhere is enough to create a high degree of anxieties. A good way to beat the unhealthy tension associated with living in the modern world is to relax to the sounds of nature.

It is really true that the sounds of nature can assist us in relaxing

The University of Sussex has reported via MedicalXPress that it is really true that the sounds of nature can assist us in relaxing. The bustling of the wind through trees or the gentle burbling flow of water down a stream can have a dramatic positive effect on our mind and bodily systems and help us relax.

It was discovered by researchers associated with Brighton and Sussex Medical School that playing sounds which are natural have a positive effect on our systems in the body which have control over the flight-or-fright response and rest-digest autonomic nervous systems. It has long been thought that sounds from nature and environments which are green are associated with promoting relaxation and wellbeing. There is now a better scientific understanding of how these effects develop.

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Dr Cassandra Gould van Praag, the lead author of this study, says we are share familiarity with how a walk in the countryside can make us feel relaxed. There is now evidence from the brain and the body which assists us in understanding this effect. This is particularly helpful for people who are dealing with high levels of stress.

The researchers did an experiment wherein participants listened to sounds which were recorded from natural and artificial environments, as an MRI scanner measured their brain activity. Changes in heart rate were used to monitor their autonomic nervous system activity. It was noticed sounds in the background caused changes in the areas of the brain which are active when we are resting.

Natural sounds were associated with brain activity which reflected an outward-directed focus of attention

Brain activity reflected an outward-directed focus of attention when listening to sounds which are natural. There was an inward directed focus of attention reflected by brain activity when listening to sounds which are artificial. This inward-directed focus of attention is similar to states of the brain which are observed in anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive states. And an increase in rest-digest nervous system activity which is linked with relaxation of the body was seen when listening to natural versus artificial sounds.

The journal Scientific Reports has published this study. It is known that relaxation and wellbeing are promoted by environments which are naturalistic. The health benefits of exposure to natural environments are now better understood. The consideration of simply enjoying the sounds of nature to relax is intriguing.