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WELLNESS

Waves of Bliss: Feel-Good Sounds that Heal and Relax

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• We feel what we hear – sound baths, therapeutic music, white noise and nature sounds can soothe and relax us.

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We don’t just hear sounds – we feel them, too. Think about the annoying buzz of mosquitoes, or the headaches you get from your neighbour’s noisy renovation. Yet, some sounds seem to have healing powers. From the resonance of gongs to the murmur of ocean waves, these therapeutic sounds can lift the mood and soothe the mind.

Good Vibrations

Imagine taking a bath, your body feeling weightless in the water – relaxing, right? It’s similar with sound baths, except you “bathe” in sound waves produced by instruments like gongs and singing bowls. The sonorous frequencies of these instruments create a vibrating sensation in the body, which is said to ease tension and trigger the meditative alpha brainwaves. Some studies even found that it can alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety and physical pain.

Music for the Mind

Have you ever found yourself dancing to an upbeat tune, or crying to an emotional song? We all know that music can affect our mood and physiological state, so it’s no surprise that certain types of music can help improve mental health. In music therapy, musical activities are “prescribed” to relieve physical, emotional and mental concerns; but you can also add therapeutic music into your everyday playlist to create a positive ambience. So, what kind of music should you listen to? Research shows that slow, quiet music lowers stress levels significantly, while pieces with a fast tempo can boost mood and focus.

Make Some Noise

Yes, you’ve read it right: even noise can soothe us! While complete silence may cause us to stay alert subconsciously and listen for any trace of sound, low, steady noises provide a non-threatening soundtrack in the background to distract the brain. White noise, for example, is often used to aid sleeping as it can drown out other sounds. It works because it consists of all frequencies that the human ear can hear, but at the same amplitude, or volume, creating a so-called “blanket of sound”. Many home appliances, like fans and TVs, naturally generate white noise; you can use a white noise machine or mobile app to adjust the intensity and volume to your liking.

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The Sounds of Nature

There’s something about being in nature that just feels so peaceful. Perhaps that’s why we also find nature sounds comforting, whether it’s a gentle rainfall, ocean waves or chirping birds. Scientists discovered that listening to such calming sounds can lower blood pressure and deactivate the body’s fight-or-flight response. Our nervous system stays on high alert to prepare to fight or flee a stressful situation, which makes it difficult to unwind and fall asleep. Nature sounds, even as recordings, interrupt this pattern by redirecting our focus outward and away from worry, while activating the brain’s rest-and-digest system (associated with relaxation). So, the next time insomnia hits, you know it’s time to reconnect with Mother Nature.

Still struggling to relax? Try these expert tips to calm anxiety, based on your personality type.
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