MILAN – To say that nature is a valuable asset for humanity is an understatement. Seeing nature as the life blood of people may perhaps convey the concept better, and should spur us on to respect nature every day in the knowledge that doing something positive can help to preserve it. We should all spend more time appreciating nature, especially during the workday. Taking a walk in the park during your lunchbreak or even having just one desk plant can help to boost your mood and your productivity. What does science say about these effects in terms of auditory stimulation?
Ocean waves are relaxing
Through their research, Dr Erin Largo-Wight and her colleagues at the University of North Florida revealed how nature sounds affect people’s physiology and psychology. In their study, submitted to the Public Health Reports for review, they measured the pulse rate, muscle tension and stress of 40 people, who then took part in an interesting test: listening first to silence, then to Mozart, and finally to ocean waves, for 15 minutes. Following the test, the researchers collected the physiological data again and checked participants’ stress levels. The results showed no significant change for people who listened to silence or classical music, whilst the subjects who listened to the sound of flowing water had considerably lower muscle tension, heart rates and stress levels, presenting an optimum mental and physical state. The team also noted that positive changes occurred relatively quickly, within five to seven minutes of listening to nature.
How can we bring a bit of relaxation to the office?
The researchers didn’t specifically study workspaces, but these findings suggest that offices could use strategic sound design to revitalise employees. “Thanks to stress caused by heavy workloads, our cognitive resources become fatigued easily,” says Largo-Wight, a professor of public health. “The idea is that nature can restore us cognitively.”
by editorial staff