Ever wonder why environmental sounds are so relaxing? Just getting outside in nature has been shown to be therapeutic.
According to David Yaden, a research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, “in a natural setting, people are more relaxed and less stressed.”
In Japan, they call this practice of getting outside in nature shinrin-yoku, which is roughly translated as “forest bathing.”
Indoors, environmental sounds remind us of being out in nature and may also be something for the mind to meditate on, no different than staring at a candle flame, or repeating a mantra or listening to relaxing music. So listening to a recording of environmental sounds or relaxing music that incorporates environmental sounds can be a soothing alternative to actually going outdoors and listening to the real thing.
Our minds often break away from the present moment and create stories that are sometimes stressful: We worry about the future and things that may never happen, and get angry about things that have already happened and can’t be changed.
But when we focus on the gentle sound of a babbling brook, or any other natural sound — like crickets or birds chirping, or even the sound of waves crashing on a beach — we bring our minds back into the present moment. We are, in effect, practicing mindfulness.
And mindfulness has been shown to lower stress, reduce anxiety, boost the immune system and help with depression.
— James Porter, president of StressStop.com