Can listening to bird songs help lower stress and fatigue2

Reprinted from an earlier essay on April 4, 2015

We can’t escape it. We can’t outrun it.

Stress. Fatigue. Life is full of it – financial strains, work pressures, raising children, relationships, and health problems, to name a few. If you struggle with it, you’re far from alone. One study estimates close to 75% of Americans regularly experience physical and psychological symptoms due to stress.

 Trauma can increase sensitivity to stress

Chronic stress can affect anyone’s emotional, mental, and physical health. If, however, you have experienced a traumatic event or repeated or recurring trauma, you may be more sensitive to stress. Trauma can cause changes in the brain which make it harder to recover from stress. Over time, adrenal fatigue and other physical problems can develop, as well as mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.

It stands to reason, then, that healthy stress reduction is a must, especially if you are sensitive to stress. If you are suffering from burnout, compassion fatigue, or secondary trauma, reducing your stress is essential. Even if the primary source of the stress cannot be controlled, such as working in a highly stressful job, raising a child who has difficult behaviors, or providing care to aging parents, it’s critical to find ways to reduce your stress.

 There are lots of ways to tackle your stress, and often it helps to have a variety of options to choose from. Here’s one option to consider.

 Nature as a stress reducer

Time and again, research tells us that spending time outdoors has many healthy benefits. But, of course, we don’t really need statistics and graphs to convince us that fresh air, soothing sounds, and beautiful landscapes is good for us. It can be as simple as sitting out on your porch or as involved as a multi-day backpacking trip. Either way, being outdoors is good for your mind, body, and soul.

 More specifically….bird songs help reduce stress

While simply being out in nature can be healthy and restorative, it also turns out that hearing bird songs can help reduce stress and attention fatigue (from, say, concentrating on work or parenting all day), helping us feel more relaxed and refreshed.

 And it’s simple. And it’s free.

 Learning to identify birds by their songs is not necessary in order to reap the mental health rewards. Simply sitting or walking quietly wherever there are birds singing is all that is needed. But if learning new things gets you pumped, or you enjoy a fun challenge, you can try your ear at learning to identify birds simply by listening to their songs. It’s easier than you might think, and spring is the perfect time to give it a try. Issue a personal challenge to yourself or try it as a fun, bonding activity with your kids, partner, or friends.

Here are a few bird songs to get you started:

 Northern Cardinal (aka Redbird): sounds like cheer cheer cheer

 Mourning Dove: their call is a soothing, quiet coo coo

 If you like the peacefulness of the nighttime:

 Eastern Screech Owl: a soft, gentle, hauntingly beautiful trill or whinny

 A final “note” (pun intended): Many birds will be singing throughout the spring, and some continue even through summer. I hope you will find ways to get outside with open ears and a curious mind. However, if you find yourself stuck inside, wishing for the sounds of nature, check out this free app that will deliver bird songs and other nature sounds right to your ears.

 Happy birding!

amy sugeno