Soothing sounds of woodland proven to be more relaxing than meditation apps or silence

Listening to birdsong, rustling leaves and a gentle stream can positively affect our wellbeing, a Natural Trust study has found.

The mellow melodies of woodland will leave you feeling more relaxed than listening to a meditative recording or silence.

These are the findings or a National Trust study where respondents were asked how they felt after listening to a one minute recording of forest sounds, a meditative app or silence.

Respondents reported feeling the most relaxed, an increase of 30%, after listening to woodland noises, but felt no change after listening to the app or silence.

‘There is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating that experience of nature can benefit health and wellbeing, including recovery from everyday psychological stress,’ said Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe, lecturer in environmental psychology, at the University of Surrey.

‘Much of this research has focused on visual experiences, but more recent work has shown that the sounds of the outdoors, such as birdsong, wind, and water, can also improve mood and reduce stress. These sounds offer a way to connect with nature no matter where you are.’

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The data highlights how being immersed in the sounds of woodlands can positively affect our overall levels of wellbeing, and shows that time spent listening to the sounds of the natural world has a direct impact on how we feel.

Further research of 2,000 British adultson behalf of the National Trust reveals birdsong is the favourite sound of woodlands, with almost 40% stating hearing their favourite woodland sounds makes them happy.

‘Sometimes, a simple walk in woodlands, where you’re surrounded by the echoes of calling birds, and that satisfying crunch of fallen leaves and twigs underfoot, is the perfect remedy for reducing stress,’ said Patrick Begg, National Trust outdoors and natural resources director.

‘No matter whether the connection is with an outdoor or urban place, our research shows the intrinsic link between connections to place and the triggering of positive emotional experiences. For those who have a connection to woodlands, this sense of wellbeing is further heightened through nature sounds, so we want to make sure we’re conserving our woodlands, so the public can make the most of the benefits they have to offer both now, and in the future.’