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The Magic of Birdsong - Feel Calmer and Less Stressed

bird sits on a branch singing

I recently learnt that listening to birdsong helps us to feel calmer and shifts our nervous system into the parasympathetic state - this is the 'rest and digest' rather than 'fight or flight', the place we really want to be most of the time but so often aren’t. This is because bird’s only sing if there are no predators around. So we have evolved to see birdsong as a sign we are safe, there’s no danger. Of course these days there are a lot of things making us feel stressed other than the threat of being eaten my a tiger or a wolf but bird’s have no idea that our boss is being difficult or the house is a mess and the kids are running wild. And fortunately our nervous systems still take birdsong as a sign of safety.

There has been some interesting research that looked at the difference between listening to birdsong and traffic noise. Unsurprisingly those that listen to birdsong reported feeling calmer while depression rates worsened in those listening to traffic noise.

woman stands with hands on her heart and eyes closed, meditating

So I have decided to build a new habit and now every time I realise I am hearing birdsong I am using this a prompt to take a moment to remind myself that I am safe, I focus on a few long, soft exhales and the feeling of my feet on the ground, both these things I find super useful to help me feel grounded and calm. I also take a moment to come to my inner resource, a place within my body that I can focus on that helps me connect to the feeling of safety and comfort. I have recorded a short meditation to help you find this resource within yourself. This can be really useful to use when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed and need to reset and feel safe and calm. You can access this recording by joining my mailing list here.

The feeling of safety within our own bodies and our lives is so important but is something many of us don’t have and often don’t even realise we are missing. It might be because of our own self-critical inner voice that we can’t ever fully relax and feel safe or it may be that those around us are judging us or are quick to anger if we don’t do things the way they want. Whatever it is that is making us feel unsafe, this has a huge effect on our mental and physical health.

When we feel unsafe, we are in a constant state of fight and flight, this is our sympathetic nervous system state. While in this state our body changes the way our systems function. Certain systems such as digestion are inhibited, if we stay in this stressed state for prolonged periods of time this can have adverse effects, conditions such as IBS can be common. When we can truly feel at ease and safe to relax and be ourselves our nervous system shifts away from fight and flight and into a rest and digest state (our parasympathetic nervous system) and from here so many of our bodily functions work more optimally.

Yoga and yoga therapy have many practical things to teach us about how to feel calmer and less stressed and better regulate our nervous system states. If you would like help navigating the path to feeling safe and calm within yourself get in touch and we can discuss if yoga therapy is right for you.


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