Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Today’s post comes from Kyra Santin, Natural Heritage Education and Marketing Student for our Northwest Zone.

George Santayana, poet, philosopher and naturalist, said: “The Earth has music for those who listen to it.”

The earth holds a lot of beauty inside. If we open our eyes and ears and listen to the world around us, we can truly appreciate the music the earth produces.

Nature has something to tell you.

Whether it’s the relaxing sound of waves along the shore, forest leaves rustling in the wind, or perhaps rain dripping on a roof, the sounds of nature can help relax the mind, body, and soul. .

Shot down from the river, closes the water, looking at the trees on the coast and the skyRushing River Provincial Park

By surrounding yourself with the natural environment (going for a walk in the woods, paddle boarding on a lake, or sitting in the heart of the forest with a book) you are allowing your body to breathe and slow down. You are letting your mind relax, while your ears focus on the sounds around you.

“Simply feel the magic in the air and the power in the breeze, feel the energy of the plants, bushes and trees, let yourself be surrounded by nature at its best, calm down, concentrate and let the magic do the rest” .

-Sally Walker

Try it sometime, take a break outdoors and listen to nature; believe me; has a lot to say.

We need the sounds of nature.

No matter your age, the sounds of nature are for everyone.

Girl in a red canoe touching the water.Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

In our current lifestyle, we are constantly surrounded by noise from construction, traffic, or even our own mobile devices. We spend much of our time trying to drown out loud noises and sounds, whether we are at home, at work or at school.

Listening to nature has a way of transporting us from these noisy places to a place that feels more nourishing and calm.

Two girls with big hiking backpacks crouching to look at the moss in the forestLake Superior Provincial Park

In these forest sounds of Lake Superior Provincial Park, you can hear the sweet calls of the winter wren, black warbler or Swainson’s thrush. Try to notice the effect these forest sounds have on you as you listen to them.

Healthier in mind and body.

For many years, researchers have studied why nature has such a calming effect on people. There are many ways in which listening to nature benefits us, but the most common are:

  • improved relaxation and attention
  • sleep better
  • increased feelings of positivity
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Our time in nature can help us become healthier in both our mind and body.

Calm your mind and feel less stressed

Although we don’t always have the opportunity to spend a lot of time outdoors, listening to a few minutes of a relaxing rain tune can reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and our level of attention.

“I go to nature to be calmed and healed, and to put my senses in order.”

-John Burroughs

Listening to the sounds of nature at the end of the day can help give our brain a break and make us feel happier, refreshed, and less stressed.

putting it to the test

Last year, I was in the Bachelor of Education Program at Lakehead University, where I was able to complete a placement within a school setting. During my internship, I had the opportunity to play nature sounds for children while they worked on independent projects.

rainbow fallsRainbow Falls Provincial Park

What I noticed was that the students responded very well to the sounds of nature and were able to work quietly on their assignments, while absorbing the music around them. They loved the quiet singing of the birds and the gentle flow of the waterfalls.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

-Frank Lloyd Wright

When we can’t go outside, why not bring some of the sounds of nature into the classroom or workplace?

Resting peacefully

Research has shown that nature sounds can help us sleep better by reducing stress.

For most of our lives, we are constantly on the move. In everyday life, we may be constantly worried and stressed about work, family and friends, or even what the next day will bring. This, in turn, can affect how we sleep at night.

Nature sounds can help create a relaxing environment and reduce stress levels.

Person in a red cap sitting next to a rushing river lined with cedarsSleeping Giant Provincial Park

Listen to these sounds from Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Can you feel your stress levels decrease with the call of the swamp sparrow or the spring peeper?

Nature can help regenerate and heal our souls in the best way possible, so why not listen to nature’s music while you try to sleep? Relaxing sounds at night, such as the sounds of the forest, the gentle flow of water or the light drops of rain on a tent, can help us release everyday stress and rest peacefully.

From ocean waves to thunderstorms, roaring fires and forest rains.

What I find that helps me sleep at night is listening to an app I have on my phone that plays soft, relaxing nature sounds. Listening to these musical compositions for a few minutes before going to bed can help you get a restful sleep.

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Sometimes these recordings include the voice of an instructor, describing an environment to you, such as “you’re walking on the beach, feeling the sand under your toes, while the wind blows through your hair.”

Woman in a blue t-shirt standing on a narrow bridge crossing a stream in the forestNeys Provincial Park

These apps can range from 10 to 30 minutes of music and have a wide variety of tunes, from ocean waves to thunderstorms, roaring fires, and forest rain.

To improve how we relax and maintain our attention span, we need to take care of our bodies and get a good night’s sleep.

Be (and stay) positive!

The third benefit that listening to nature provides is a greater ability to be positive.

Whether you’re feeling upset, angry, or stressed, listening to relaxing music with birdsong or the fast flow of a stream can help lift your mood and lose any negativity you may be holding on to.

canyon with riverKakabeka Falls Provincial Park

Need a boost of positivity right now? Try this clip from Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park (including bird calls of the red-eyed vireo and white-throated sparrow).

When we listen to these melodies, our brain responds in a way that releases dopamine, which is a chemical substance (neurotransmitter) released by neurons, which improves our mood.

I find that when I feel stressed or upset, I look for a comfortable place to sit, relax my mind and listen to the natural harmony of the earth.

Rocky coast with blue water and blue skiesRainbow Falls Provincial Park

“The peace of nature will flow to you as sunlight flows to the trees. The winds will blow upon you their own freshness, and the storms their energy, while worries will fall like autumn leaves.”

-John Muir

For me, it only takes a few minutes listening to the sound of relaxing waves crashing on the beach before I think about how I can improve my mood and increase my positivity.

Make nature a habit

With the Ontario Parks 30×30 Challenge already underway for August, take some time to get outside and listen to the tunes nature is playing for you.

Immerse your senses in the fresh air and watch your stress levels reduce. Let the fresh air help you release your anxiety.

Woman sitting in the forest, reading a book.Woodland Caribou Provincial Park

Whether you decide to hike, bike to work, or kayak along a lakeshore, Ontario Parks challenges you to spend 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days.

Nature Sounds Resources

Interested in listening to nature at home and not sure where to start? Try these websites for nature sounds you can stream:

Or here are some nature music apps you can download on your phone:

  • Breathe
  • Relaxing melodies: sounds to sleep
  • Rain and rain sounds to sleep

Reconnect with the outdoors and help improve your overall well-being with what nature has to offer.

Thanks to Northwest environmentalist Evan McCaul for providing the sound clips from our parks featured in this post.