We’ve known for some time that spending time in nature is healing or the mind and body. Numerous studies show that time spent in nature can lift our mood as well as decrease stress, depression, and anxiety. But why? According to psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, nature has a “soft fascination” for the human brain. This means it compels the brain’s attention with little or no effort. As a result, the stressed mind and body relax.
A new study from India suggests that part of nature’s soft fascination is the quality of its sounds. Dr. Rahul Bagale of Pune explains the sounds of nature have a rhythm. The rhythm of ocean waves, for example, becomes “a tool for our minds to focus away from mind-chatter.” The rhythmic vibration “actually has a very deep impact on our brain,” says Maestro Satya Brat, a sound therapist and head of the Academy of Sound Healing in Kolkata. The natural rhythm of nature sounds is in contrast to the many manmade sounds we encounter in our daily lives, which have tend to have an unnatural pattern and can be irritating—think of discordant traffic noise, or the dull repetitive sound of machines.
So, if you’re feeling stressed, grab some time in nature. Or, open a window and listen. The sounds of rustling leaves, falling rain, and birds singing can be therapeutic. And during a pandemic, a no-cost, accessible way to reduce stress and heal is a good thing.
Dr. Lisa Napolitano is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other mindfulness-based treatments. A licensed psychologist in New York and Florida, she is the Founder and Director of CBT/DBT Associates, a boutique psychology practice group. Dr. Napolitano is an expert in the treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotion regulation problems. She has specifically designed her treatment approach for executives, attorneys, and other high-functioning individuals whom she believes shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to manage their stress and work on developing their potential.