When I think about the sounds of nature, I feel a little calmer. Try it. Close your eyes and imagine you're at a national park. Hear the rustling of leaves in the forest, bird songs or a water fall. Nice, right?

Researchers analyzed studies about what happens when people listen to nature. They found it can be seriously good for your health. Experts from Carleton University, Michigan State University and Colorado State University report that people who listened to nature sounds had decreased pain, lower stress, improved mood and enhanced cognitive performance. They even figured out that certain types of sounds helped in specific areas. For example, the sounds of water are most effective at improving positive emotions and health outcomes, while bird sounds combat stress and annoyance.

"In so many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of nature for human health," says Rachel Buxton, one of the lead authors.

She notes that as traffic decreased during quarantine, people connected with nature sounds again. Another co-author says that the positive health benefits and stress reduction associated with exposure to nature are more important than ever, and is a way to offset the increase in anxiety and mental health issues happening in our society.

The researchers say more study about the health benefits of nature sounds are warranted.

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“These sounds are beautiful and good for our health – they deserve our protection,” says Buxton.

So, the next time you're in a natural park or somewhere in nature, notice the sounds and absorb them.

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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.