A Multi-Sensory Approach to Reducing Stress & the Negative Effects of Everyday Noises Using Fountains
Try this experiment. Be as fully aware as possible of your stress and energy levels following a day when you are occupied with your standard activities, and then compare that to the stress and energy levels you experience following a day in nature. It is very likely 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. Even if the results of this comparison are obvious, you may be astonished to find out that much of our stress and lack of energy as a society comes from the very fact that we are constantly surrounded by noise.
Throughout the entire day, 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, it has been determined that daily noises are a factor in 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 undeniably a contributing factor. Fortunately, 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. Regrettably, going out to nature on a daily basis does not always fit into the daily schedule, so bringing nature sounds into your home 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. An abundance of these products can be found at many shops or internet sites. However, home wall fountains and waterfalls are many times a favorite choice for nature sounds because they offer a multi-sensory stress-relieving experience that sound machines and audio recordings are incapable of providing.
The Benefits of Wall Fountains and Waterfalls
Wall fountains and waterfalls — which come in tabletop, wall mounted, and free standing varieties — bring the soothing sounds of flowing water into the home, but they also bring a visual element. Not only are waterfalls and wall fountains beautifully conceived and able to fit into any home’s 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, and into a basin at the bottom 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 wall fountains and waterfalls transport us toward that end by giving us something beautiful and elemental to focus on with our eyes as we listen with our ears.
Furthermore, the water that flows in a wall fountain or waterfall changes its sounds subtly at every moment. This dynamic quality keeps our listening experience from becoming tedious or repetitive, 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 wall 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 Gentle Quality 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 feel spellbound by its gentle movement. Spending time near water — listening, watching, touching — allows us to breathe more slowly and to break the cycle of stress we experience each day. Making a space in our home for a wall fountain or waterfall, 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. Wall 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.