Mental Health Awareness Week: The Most Effective Soothing Sounds to Calm your Mind

Mental Health Awareness Week: The Most Effective Soothing Sounds to Calm your Mind

Riddhi Doshi 16/05/2024
Mental Health Awareness Week: The Most Effective Soothing Sounds to Calm your Mind

The sounds of nature can benefit a person’s mental well-being, relieving them from stress and bringing them a sense of calm.

With natural sounds being the most common choice for relieving stress, the experts at HAYPP wanted to find out which soothing sounds people are most drawn to. They also partnered with psychologist Dr. Rebekah Wanic to provide extra insight on the effect that different sounds have, and the ideal time to listen to each.

Key Findings

  • Four out of the top five soothing sounds are water sounds, which combined generate over one billion YouTube views.

  • Research has shown that watching a fire on a screen, accompanied by crackling fire sounds, can actually help reduce blood pressure.

  • Rustling leaves rank at the bottom of the list, with 3,026,000 YouTube views (over 405 million less than thunderstorm sounds).

  • Psychologist Dr. Rebekah Wanic recommends listening to birds singing, city noise, waterfalls, or running streams in the morning for the best mental health impact.


1. Thunderstorm

Generating a whopping 409 million YouTube views, thunderstorms take the first spot for the most popular soothing sound. Thunderstorm sounds are a typical example of what is called ‘white noise’ - a mix of frequencies allowing a person to drown out any noises that might be found disturbing.

Dr. Rebekah Wanic comments: “The booming sounds that punctuate the rainfall in thunderstorms are often somewhat predictable in recorded versions and may provide a sense of comfort in that hearing them from a safe place can help you feel protected and secure.”

2. Rainfall

Following closely behind, with 399 million YouTube views (10 million less than thunderstorms), is rainfall. Soft rain sounds are an example of ‘green noise’ - a constant mid-level frequency creating a flat and steady sound.

“Habituation to repetitive noise can reduce arousal because the consistency doesn’t require alertness to respond to change. Rainfall and ocean waves are also very rhythmic and consistent, offering a soothing pattern that is predictable.”

3. Fire crackling

Third place goes to fire crackling sounds, which have accumulated 197 million YouTube views. While not really a white noise, fire sounds provide a similar effect with their continuity, helping people drown out any disturbing noises. Research has proven that watching a fire on a screen, accompanied by crackling fire sounds, can actually help reduce blood pressure.

“Crackling fire and rustling leaves may be less predictable, but both offer repetition in sound frequency that can be comforting.”

4. Ocean waves

Ocean waves are fourth, with 151 million YouTube views. Often, ocean sounds can help a person recall pleasant memories and this in turn can bring that person calm. Due to the difference in wave sizes, the sound of ocean waves contains a mix of frequencies.

5. Running Stream

Rounding off the top five, generating 43 million YouTube views, is the sound of a running stream. Yet another water sound that’s preferred by many people when they need a sense of calm. Another form of white noise, running stream sounds can certainly be helpful when needing to drown out surrounding noises.

“Running streams and waterfalls follow the same type of pattern as rainfall and ocean waves, with regularity but enough change to be both calming and interesting.”

Dr. Rebekah Wanic provides additional insight on the best times to listen to different soothing sounds:

“While each person is likely to have their own preferred sounds along with a preference for the best time and place for listening, considering the associations with these different sounds, I would suggest that morning would be ideal for things like birds singing, city noise, waterfalls, or running streams as these would be activating to help get one going.

During the day, more steady sounds like ocean waves or thunderstorms might offer a more powerful and impactful noise to create calm that rises over the hustle and bustle. In the evening, crickets, crackling fire, or purring cats might be more soothing because listening to them can help activate pleasant memories that are commonly associated with the connection between such sounds and winding down for the day.

For someone who uses background sounds to drown out unwanted ambient noise, white noise or its variations may be appropriate throughout the day or particularly useful when falling or trying to more effectively stay asleep. I would suggest that people experiment with different options to find their optimal solution.”

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Riddhi Doshi

Mental Health Expert

Riddhi Doshi trains and coaches corporate leaders, educators and parents on issues of mental health and behavior. She is an internationally certified Parenting & Behaviour Coach. In past 15+ years she has conducted 2540+ open workshops, delivered 87000+ hours of talks, 53000+ hours of counseling sessions covering 59000+ students and 62,000+ women from various fields. Parenting sessions conducted by Riddhi are housefull and recent;y she completed her 366th Parenting session. She has been a speaker and advisor at various institutions and organizations including IIM, Ahmedabad, Rotary Club, Tata Power, Larson & Toubro and The Time of India. She holds an MBA in HRD, LLM and numerous other professional certifications from prestigious international institutions including University of Cambridge, BSY University, London, City & Guilds, London, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and NMIMS, Mumbai. She has been awarded with “National Award for Cultural Activities by AVANTIKA- Delhi”, “Excellence in Wellness”, “Young Entrepreneurs Award”, “Self Made Diva Award” among various others. With a mission to “make corporate leaders, educators and parents empowered and more aware about mental health & wellness”, Riddhi regularly gives interviews on leading media platforms. She loves to interact with corporate leaders, educators and parents to discuss about women issues, child psychology and parenting challenges.

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