Two studies, published last year in Scientific Reports, named something that may improve mental well-being and reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and paranoia: being around birds.

The Washington Post said, “In one study, researchers asked about 1,300 participants to collect information about their environment and well-being three times a day using a smartphone app called Urban Mind.”

The Post said the data collected, which included other variants like sleep and air quality, showed seeing or hearing birds had a positive association with improved mental well-being in participants.

“Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental well-being. These improvements were evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression,” according to that report.

Another study the Post reported showed that, out of 295 online participants who were asked to self-assess their emotional state, those who were randomly assigned to listen to different kinds of bird songs reported reduced depressive symptoms and a decrease in feelings like anxiety and paranoia.

Emil Stobbe, an environmental neuroscience graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and author of one of the studies, told the Post, “The special thing about bird songs is that even if people live in very urban environments and do not have a lot of contact with nature, they link the songs of birds to vital and intact natural environments,”

Why does nature affect our mental health?

Deseret News previously reported, “Rather than dominating one’s attention, nature restores mental capacities and enhances cognitive performance,” an effect scientists call “soft fascination.”

Forbes said, “Our brains renew themselves in nature. The sights and sounds of nature help us recover from the stress of modern life and release ourselves from negative thought cycles. Our brains and bodies evolved to thrive in nature.”

Reporting on a study from Finland that was published in the BMJ journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, the Deseret News said “The more often people visited green spaces, the less they needed to use psychotropic, antihypertensive and asthma medication, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”

In her book “The Extended Mind,” Annie Murphy Paul said being in nature can help us be in a more receptive state, “open to unexpected connections and insights,” per Forbes.

Places to go

Multiple online news outlets list outdoor spaces you can go to enjoy a bird song or two, while possibly boosting your mental well-being, which include:

  • Bird sanctuaries.
  • Nature reserves.
  • Botanical gardens.
  • The mountains.
  • The beach.
  • Lakes, rivers and other natural water formations.