Nature has a positive impact on our mental health. Gardening, for example, improves considerably our well-being since a non-pathogenic bacterium found in the soil increases our serotonin level. We also know that the sea changes our brain, giving it a kind of vacation from the overstimulation we are continually exposed to. The simple exposure to natural green spaces is also relaxing and enhances creativity.
However, most of the research has focused on analyzing the impact of green spaces, such as forests, parks, and gardens. Now a study conducted at King’s College London revealed the importance of birds for our well-being. These researchers looked at the impact of wildlife on our mood and found that seeing and hearing birds has a positive impact on our well-being, even for people experiencing depression.
The benefits of bird singing for our mental health
The researchers collected data from more than 1,200 people through an application that collected their experiences in urban or rural life. First, the participants shared their demographic data and information about their sleep patterns and mental health status. Then, three times a day for two weeks, they answered surveys indicating what they were doing and feeling at the moment. So the researchers could know if they were in a natural environment or not.
The team found that seeing or hearing the birds was linked to more positive feelings and a greater sense of mental well-being. In fact, they found that the positive effect of the wildlife encounter was not fleeting, but lasted slightly into the next day.
The researchers also looked at whether there was a difference in the impact of bird encounters on people with depression and those without any mental health problems. They found no difference between the two groups, suggesting that listening to birdsong and seeing them have a similar impact on our mental well-being.
However, it is not the only study that has looked at the impact of birds on people. In 2017, researchers at the University of Exeter also found that people living in bird-rich areas had fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.
Other research carried out at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main found that there is a link between happiness and the number of bird species that inhabit around homes and villages. According to these researchers, being close to 14 species of birds can be as satisfying as earning $150 more per month.
The secret of birds: Why do they relax us?
Who has not felt tucked in with the sound of birds at dawn? Who has not relaxed with the song of birds in the forest? This multisensory experience involves both hearing and sight, so it is not surprising that it helps us to disconnect from our thoughts and concerns, aligning ourselves with the natural environment.
In fact, researchers at the University of Surrey found that of all the natural sounds we can hear, we tend to associate bird song with relieving stress and restoring attention.
Birdsong is probably so relaxing because it helps us connect deeply with nature. It returns us to our origins and brings us to the present, which is why this experience brings serenity, calm and mental clarity to many people. Obviously, the natural environment reinforces this positive effect.
The benefits of bird singing are mainly due to the fact that they generate a state of relaxed body and alert mind. We find the chirping of birds relaxing and reassuring because over thousands of years we have learned that we are safe when birds sing. Our ancestors had to worry when they stopped doing it because there was probably a problem coming.
Other people also report feelings of joy and fulfillment when listening to or watching birds singing, probably because somewhere deep inside our psyche, we keep associating them with the arrival of spring, renewal, and good weather to come after the harsh winter.
Therefore, the next time you feel stressed or sad, bet on a “green prescription”. Go out and listen to the birds singing. Spending time in nature will only do you good.
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