Did you know that natural sounds such as the wind swooshing through trees and water softly sloshing against the shore of a lake can actually cause your nervous system to switch into a repair mode, relaxing you? And according to scientific research, you can achieve the same effect merely by listening to recordings of natural sounds. I wrote about working with nature sounds for healing in a recent article for The Edge magazine and have experienced myself the power of letting nature help you heal. Your body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, become reduced when you are by a lake, in a woods, or even simply enjoying a walk through a garden or sitting in your backyard in the sunshine.

When I was not yet in kindergarten, I explored a stream that ran through a valley about a mile away from my home. Thickets lined its banks, and I picked my way through them to stand and watch the water leaping and lifting over stones in its path. The trunks of the trees were covered in lichen that to my eyes seemed like maps from an ancient world. Later, when I was a young teenager, alone in the woods, any tension I had seemed to drain out of me into the earth as I sat and watched the slowly drifting clouds reflected on the surface of the water of a pond or stream. Spending time in nature helped me feel connected to something larger than myself, something that was there long before me and would be there long after I had moved on.

Have you ever felt a greater sense of well-being while in nature? Does being in nature somehow relativize your problems, making them seem less worrisome and less pressing?

Whether it is what you see or hear, or what you touch, taste, or smell, the next time you’re feeling unsettled, uncomfortable, or ill, you might want to get outdoors and experience nature’s healing qualities. They might help you change the story of your health.