Can Listening To Birdsong Soothe Your Worried Mind?

The stresses and worries of the modern lifestyle — bills, technology, work, and other long-term stressors — can weigh heavy on the mind. Healthline reports that people are more stressed out today than they were before the turn of the century in the 1990s.

According to Robert Sapolsky, an American neuroscientist, these modern psychosocial stressors, when experienced over time, can reduce brain function and put you at higher risk of certain diseases (via Stanford News). There's also evidence that chronic stress can make lasting changes in the brain that put you at higher risk of developing a mental health issue like anxiety or mood disorders as you age (per Berkeley News). 

One commonly listed solution to the stresses of the modern mind is to spend time in nature, but it turns out that even listening to natural sounds may do the trick. A 2021 study published in the journal Proceeding of the Natural Academy of Sciences found that simply listening to the sounds made by nature in United States national parks could boost mood and positive emotions.

In particular, the researchers found that listening to the vocalizations of birds could lower stress. You might wonder if listening to singing birds can actually help your mental health. The answer may surprise you.

Singing birds calm your nerves

Birdsong is a relatively complex bird vocalization when compared to a bird call, which is shorter and usually signals danger or flight (via Nature). The scientific view that birdsong is predominantly a male behavior related to sexual selection recently shifted. Science Daily reports that many female songbirds also sing, indicating a potentially social component to the behavior outside of sexual selection.

Building upon prior evidence that birdsong may improve mood, the researchers of a 2022 study published in Nature's journal Scientific Reports found that soundscapes of birdsong may also help alleviate paranoia in addition to anxiety. Paranoia is a train of irrational thought that can result in the belief that others are "out there to get you" and can result in feelings of danger (per Medical News Today).

In the aforementioned study, the researchers concluded that listening to natural recordings of birdsongs — even if they come from different species of birds — can have a positive impact on mental health, says Neuroscience News. The positive effects on anxiety and paranoia were noted in healthy participants.

Listening to the sounds of songbirds could be a useful strategy for improving aspects of your mood.