A Multi-Sensory Approach to Reducing Stress & the Negative Effects of Everyday Noises with Waterfalls and Water Fountains
Here’s an experiment. Take note of your stress and energy levels following one day spent doing what you normally do in a day, and then compare that to the stress and energy levels you experience at the end of a day spent in nature. The chances are favorable that you end your day in nature with less stress and more energy than you feel at the end of a typical day of work, school, errands, and other miscellaneous tasks. While the results of this experiment may seem obvious, you may be surprised to learn that much of our stress and lack of energy as a society comes from the very fact that we are constantly surrounded by noise.
From the moment we wake to the moment we fall asleep at night, our ears and brains are required to deal with a multitude of low frequency sounds that drain the brain of energy and cause stress. Low frequency noises include the ever-present hum of household appliances, the drone of the computer and fluorescent lights, and the din of traffic, large machinery, aircraft, and other everyday technologies. According to a January 2007 Consumer Reports: On Health article titled “Shhh! Everyday noise can be harmful,” stress and lack of energy are only two of the negative effects that everyday noises can have on our bodies. In addition, everyday noises have been shown to contribute to sleep problems, lack of motivation, lower efficiency levels, decreased creativity, poor mood, and increased heart attack risk.
Counteracting the Negative Effects of Everyday Noises Noise may not be the sole cause of the stress and other health issues we experience, but it is most certainly one source. The good news is that we can reduce, and even reverse, the negative effects that noise has on our brains and bodies through regular exposure to the higher frequency sounds found in nature.
Spending a day, or even part of a day, in nature provides our bodies and brains with a much needed relief from stress. Unfortunately, going out to nature on a daily basis is not always an option, so bringing nature sounds into your home or backyard is the practical solution. Listening to sound machines and audio recordings that feature babbling brooks, ocean waves, rain showers, bird songs, and other natural sounds is one option. These items are plentiful and easy to find at many retailers. However, home water fountains and waterfalls are often a preferred source for nature sounds because they offer a multi-sensory stress-relieving experience that sound machines and audio recordings are unable to provide.
The Benefits of Water Fountains and Waterfalls Water fountains and waterfalls — which come in tabletop, wall mounted, and free standing varieties — bring the soothing sounds of flowing water into the home or backyard, but they also bring a visual element. Not only are water fountains and waterfalls beautifully designed and able to complement just about any existing home decor, the water itself lends another dimension of stress relief to the equation. Watching the dance and trickle of water as it flows across rocks, down textured surfaces, in your pool or into a basin at the bottom of the waterfall enhances our auditory experience. When we listen to sound machines or audio recordings of nature sounds, we may feel the need to close our eyes to block out visual distractions around us that take our minds away from the goal of relaxation. In contrast, the visual attributes of water fountains and waterfalls bring us closer to that goal by giving us something beautiful and elemental to focus on with our eyes as we listen with our ears.
In addition, the water that flows in a water fountain or waterfall never sounds exactly the same from one moment to the next. This dynamic quality keeps our listening experience from growing monotonous or predictable, which can easily happen if we listen to sound machines or audio recordings regularly. We can also choose to dramatically change the “song” of the water in our water fountain or waterfall simply by rearranging rocks or other features in the basin or by adding a new element — such as a seashell, leaf, or small piece of wood — along the water’s path. We can even place our own fingers in the water’s flow to change the sound of the water as it moves; feeling the water stream across our skin would bring yet another sensory element to our experience.
The Soothing Nature of Water Because water is an integral part of our world and our bodies, it has an innate ability to soothe. We are instinctively drawn to the sound of water, and we are mesmerized by its gentle flow. Spending time near water — listening, watching, touching — allows us to breathe more slowly and to break the cycle of stress we experience each day. Bringing a water fountain or waterfall into our home environment, whether it is a small tabletop version or a larger wall mounted or free standing version, gives us the luxury of regular access to real water, as opposed to pre-recorded water sounds. Water fountains and waterfalls provide us with a multi-sensory relaxation experience that may not only lower our stress levels, but improve our sleep and our moods, increase our motivation and efficiency, and even lower our risk for heart attack.