Hate those birds singing in the morning? They may be good for you
According to a study, birds provide an opportunity to connect with nature, which has been linked to improved body and mental health.
New studies may reveal the connection between being more attentive to birds and improvements in mental health.
Two studies published in the journal Scientific Reports last year suggested that seeing or hearing birds might be beneficial to our mental health. Research has shown that more engagement with nature has repeatedly been linked to improved body and cognitive health.
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Birds appear to be a unique source of these therapeutic advantages.
Emil Stobbe, an environmental neuroscience graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and author of one of the studies said that “the special thing about birdsongs is that even if people live in very urban environments and do not have a lot of contact with nature, they link the songs of birds to vital and intact natural environments."
According to new research, listening to recordings of their songs, even through headphones, might help one cope with negative feelings.
In one study, researchers asked over 1,300 participants to collect information on their surroundings and well-being three times each day using the Urban Mind smartphone app.
The participants were not explicitly told that the researchers were looking at birds; the app was also gathering data on other vitals such as sleep quality, subjective air quality evaluation, and geographical details. However, the 26,856 evaluations provided a comprehensive dataset of what is related to mental well-being in the actual world in real time.
A significant positive association was discovered between seeing or hearing birds and improved mental well-being after analyzing the data, even after accounting for other possible explanations such as education, occupation, or the presence of greenery and water, all of which have been linked to positive mental health.
The healing aspects of nature
The advantages lasted long after encounters with birds. Even if a person did not see or hear birds at the next check-in, their mental well-being was greater on average hours later if they reported seeing or hearing birds at one time.
Ryan Hammoud, a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and an author of the study, called it a “time-lasting link.”
A second study discovered that listening to six-minute audio recordings of birdsong helped lower anxiety, despair, and paranoia in healthy people. Listening to more or less diversified traffic noise, on the other hand, exacerbated depression symptoms.
According to Stobbe, an author of the second study, the research indicates the “healing aspects of nature, or also the not-so-positive effects of urban surroundings."
Previous research on the health impacts of nature sounds discovered that they might even provide cognitive advantages; however, the second study could not reproduce that conclusion.
Previous research has found that time spent in green outdoor spaces can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, according to Hammoud, but neuroimaging studies have found brain responses of stress reduction to other forms of nature exposure.
Walking in nature vs. an urban environment decreased self-reported rumination, which is linked to a risk of depression and other mental illnesses.
Going bird-watching also encourages increased physical activity, which has its own set of mental health advantages, and exercising outside may, in turn, compound the health benefits of exercise.
When we step outside, it is easy to overlook the fact that birds are also singing their hearts out if we are not paying attention.
We can appreciate our feathery buddies at any intensity level. In your own backyard, you may see and listen to birds. You might also join a local birding club to meet other birders.
More delight may be found by enjoying the birds we see and the sounds we hear. According to recent exploratory research, birdwatchers who focused on the delight they felt for each bird reported more mental health advantages than those who just tallied the birds they saw.
The studies imply that birdsongs may be utilized to ease our brains in a stressful world, as well as in a therapeutic setting to treat patients with anxiety or paranoia.