Research Series – Part 5 – Soothing Sounds of Nature for Workplace Wellness!
Stress is our body’s reaction to psychological pressure that builds up over a period of time. When we are stressed we often feel overwhelmed, insecure or nervous. There is no one reason for stress and what is stressful for one person is not necessarily stressful for another and vice versa. Although the causes for stress are different for each individual, some symptoms are common. These can include sweaty hands, low self-esteem, anxiety and an increased heart rate. If stress is experienced over extended periods of time it can also lead to fatigue, insomnia, indigestion, diarrhoea, loss of concentration and a large variety of more serious conditions like depression, panic attacks, exhaustion (e.g. burn out) and high or low blood pressure.
But not just the individual person suffers from the undesired effects of stress. Employers are also greatly affected. As Dr. Russ Newman, executive director for professional practice of the American Psychological Association (APA) states, “the cost of stress to employers is huge”*. According to Newman, employers spend “an estimated 300 billion dollars a year on stress-related absenteeism, turnover, lowered productivity, and direct medical, legal and insurance costs”*.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatments and therapies that heal your body and mind by reducing the unwelcomed effects of stress. Some of these treatments involve the sights and sounds of nature.
For example, a study in 1984 found that post-surgery patients who had a view onto a garden through the windows of their hospital room recovered faster from their conditions than patients who looked at a brick wall instead**.
But not just the view of nature can help after surgery, listening to the sounds of nature has very positive effects on patient recovery as well. In 2010, Alvarsson and colleagues presented 40 subjects with either nature sounds (a mixture of sounds from a fountain and tweeting birds) or noisy urban environments (road traffic noise) after a stressful mental arithmetic task***. The results of their investigations suggest that psychological stress and physiological recovery of the sympathetic nervous system is faster during exposure to pleasant nature sounds than to the un-pleasant city noises***.
Nature sounds and sights are thus an effective strategy to manage stress and it can be successfully incorporated within limited office spaces by e.g. putting up pictures of nature scenes on the office walls, creating and running a slideshow of nature images on a digital picture frame or tablet and listening to nature sounds on good quality headphones. Such cost-effective measures are of benefit to both the employer and the employee, thus it should be in the interest of both parties to reduce stress by introducing nature sounds and scenes into the work environment. Adding some plants is certain to lift your mood, too****.
Australian Nature Sounds offer individual and corporate/organisation packages that include pre-selected or customised nature sound collections to reduce employee stress.
If you are an employee, browse over to our website and find a selection of nature sound albums ready to reduce your stress symptoms right now.
If you are an employer and want to improve the working conditions in your offices or employee kitchen, talk to us about your requirement. Ask us about our flexible plans to suit your specific needs and we are happy to provide a free custom quote for the wellness of your employees.
Have a listen to our albums and see what they do for you!
* Bossolo L & Borde C (2007). Top companies show investing in employee health and well-being leads to business success, [Web page article] Retrieved from http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/apa/26909/ on 3 July 2012
** Ulrich, R.S. View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science 1984, 224, 420-421.
*** Alvarsson J J, Wiens S, Nilsson M E (2010). Stress Recovery during Exposure to Nature Sound and Environmental Noise. (Published 11 March 2010), Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010
**** Whall, A. L., Black, M. E., Groh, C. J., Yankou, D. J., Kupferschmid, B. J., & Foster, N. L. (1997). The effect of natural environments upon agitation and aggression in late stage dementia patients. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 12(5), 216-220