Stop and Listen


 |  Health/Lifestyle

In a world that is driven by stress and unpredictability, it is important to make sure you take time to unwind. One of the best ways to unwind is vitamin N (nature). Being surrounded by an urban jungle consumed with artificial noises can put a strain on our health. Whether it’s taking a walk through the park, going for a hike, or listening to its sounds, nature has multiple health benefits. Getting outside is not only beneficial physically; it also plays an essential role in our mental health. Approximately 1 in 5 Canadians are affected by mental health.

A strong connection exists between nature and stress relief. Embracing nature has proven to help improve anxiety, depression, and stress. “Eco therapy” is an emerging scientific field in which people are encouraged to engage with nature as a method to help treat their conditions. 

Researchers have discovered that even just a 90-minute walk in a natural setting helps to reduce stress. Nature walks distract the mind from the noisy world around them and is known to lower blood pressure. Nature can also be beneficial for psychosomatic illnesses like insomnia, irritability, tension headaches, and indigestion. Many people use it as a self-improvement tool. For example, to help with exercise, clarity, and self-awareness, to name a few.

Studies also show that listening to the sounds of nature can have the same effects. A study done by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) monitored people listening to artificial sounds compared to nature sounds. The scientists monitored their subjects’ brain activity with an MRI scanner and tracked their heart rate to see the nervous system’s response. The results showed that people were more relaxed when listening to natural sounds and had better performance when conducting tasks. The chart readings for artificial sounds showed results consistent with people who are undergoing stress, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They also discovered that people who were first analyzed to have the highest level of stress ended up becoming the most relaxed when listening to natural sounds.

Researchers have observed that students are more productive when listening to sounds because it creates a more relaxed and positive environment. Nature helps to boost endorphin levels and dopamine production which results in creating happiness. However, our lives are constantly surrounded by artificial sounds, and it can be hard to find a natural soundscape without it. Thankfully there are people who have taken time to record natural sounds. Calm sound provides a variety of nature sounds that are accessible on the web. If you are looking for mobile sounds, popular apps like Breeth and Relax Melodies have tunes to help one destress without having to leave the house. 

Since green spaces have such a positive impact on our lives, cities and towns are viewing green environments as an essential part of the city’s overall health. So even when locked away because of work or other circumstances, one can still connect with nature and thrive from its benefits through listening to its relaxing sounds. Sometimes there is a disconnect between humanity and nature. It is important to remember that there are multiple ways to embrace nature and that it is everywhere around us, including the backyard or a nearby park. The COVID 19 pandemic has caused people to embrace their green spaces as it helps provide ways to get exercise and escape from stress. However, depending on location, finding a green space can sometimes be difficult, especially when adhering to social distance guidelines. If finding a green space is difficult, you can also turn to the sounds of nature to help provide a relaxing soundscape when stuck in an urban setting. 

With noise constantly filling our lives, whether it’s from the urban centers around us or our electronic devices, it is important to take a break and connect back to your roots. Remember to be present in nature, visually or auditorily, so you can soak up all of its benefits. Next time you are feeling stressed or want to get clarity, breath deep, stop and listen to the sounds of nature.