We wouldn’t blame you if your only means of relaxation all winter long has been Netflix + Salty Snacks + your Couch. Because, well, same.
But now that the temperatures are no longer sub-zero, give that perma-indentation on your sofa a break.
According to researchers at the University of Suffolk, hearing nature sounds—chirping birds, gentle breezes, ocean waves—can decompress our minds and bodies. It causes a change to the nervous system that chills out your brain and sparks full-body relaxation. But buying one of those zen sound machines won’t do it; the scientists found that *natural* nature sounds had a much greater impact than artificial ones.
Many of us (including our kiddos) love spending our limited downtime mindlessly scrolling our social media or posting pics or updates. We feel like this is a relaxation activity because usually, our bodies are at rest while we do it. But science tells us that our brains are not. The constant search for the next dopamine hit from getting likes or notifications keeps our brains engaged and inward-focused. This type of hyper focus is being linked to an increase in anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Yikes!
However, nature can help!
According to the study, the human brain showed an outward-directed focus of attention while listening to natural sounds that promoted a sense of relaxation. This type of mindset helps us to decompress and lower stress levels. I like to say, it soothes my “synapses”.
When you can get out of the office, house or school, put the phone down.
Yes, PUT THE PHONE DOWN!
Find a nearby trail, park or greenway and take a short stroll, or even park yourself on a bench. Look at and listen to the nature around you. Watch a squirrel as it scurries up a tree branch. Listen to the leaves whisper in the breeze and the birds singing on branches. Try to find a few minutes for this type of relaxation several times a week and feel the stress melting effects of mother nature.
It’s no Bruno Mars concert, but it will do wonders for your mindset and stress levels!