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Listening to This One Sound Makes You Feel Instantly Better

Sun and fresh air aren't the only health boosters in nature.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Young smiling woman relaxing and listening to music with headphones

Fire up those meditation apps—or, if you must, step outside: A new study has found that listening to the sounds of nature can make you healthier in several fundamental ways.

Researchers from three universities and the National Park Service analyzed studies on the effects of listening to natural sounds. They found that people who checked in with Mother Nature experienced pain relief, less stress, better mood and sharper cognitive performance. The sounds of water were most beneficial to health and emotions, while bird sounds had the biggest positive effect on stress and anger. Keep reading, and remember: These People "Should Not" Get COVID Vaccine, Says Vaccine Maker.

It's an Evolutionary Response, Say Researchers

The reasons why may have to do with an evolutionary response: "Natural acoustic environments provide indications of safety or an ordered world without danger, allowing control over mind states, reduction in stress-related behavior, and mental recuperation," the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Not only can sounds from water mask noise, but they also increase the pleasantness and positive perception of urban greenspace," they added. "Bird song is also a widespread component of nature experiences and can restore attention, enhance mood, decrease perceived stress, and increase the familiarity and pleasantness of a soundscape."

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It's a Form of Organic Therapy

One of the researchers noted the irony of conducting the study at a time when so many people have been confined indoors. "In so many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of nature for human health," said Rachel Buxton, one of the study's lead authors and a post-doctoral researcher at Carleton University. "As traffic has declined during quarantine, many people have connected with soundscapes in a whole new way—noticing the relaxing sounds of birds singing just outside their window. How remarkable that these sounds are also good for our health."

They found that the number of studies was relatively limited, and there's room for more real-world sampling. "Most of the existing evidence we found is from lab or hospital settings," said Amber Pearson, one of the lead authors and associate professor at Michigan State University.  "There is a clear need for more research on natural sounds in our everyday lives and how these soundscapes affect health." And to get through this pandemic without catching coronavirus, don't miss this essential list: Things You Should Never Do Before Your Vaccine

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