Feeling stressed? Brits share their top 10 soothing sounds for stress relief

Listening to soothing sounds is a popular way to aid sleep, relax the mind, and calm anxiety. And whilst we all have certain sounds which comfort us to the point of relaxation, we also have ones that grate on us and make us cringe. But as a nation, which sounds affect us the most?

According to new research, it has been revealed Brits find the sounds of waves the most soothing (42%).

The study, commissioned by Boots Hearingcare, surveyed 1,500 participants UK-wide to uncover which sounds Brits are most soothed by.

Boots Hearingcare has worked with their in-house Audiologist, Hannah Samuels, as well as Counsellor and Hypnotherapist at Lifestyle Therapy, Susan Leigh, to understand why certain sounds affect our brain differently.

According to the survey, the top 10 sounds Brits find the most relaxing are:

  1. Waves (42%)
  2. Rain on a window (34%)
  3. Birds singing (33%)
  4. Fire crackling (23%)
  5. Cats purring (20%)
  6. Running water (20%)
  7. Wind (17%)
  8. Thunderstorm (16%)
  9. TV (13%)
  10. White noise (11%)

The results show that the sound Brits find the most relaxing is the sound of waves (42%), followed by rain on a window (34%).

Susan comments: “Waves often have a rhythmic ebbing and flowing, making a regular soothing pattern. The strength of the waves reminds us of the daily cycle of the moon, day and night, the reassuring continuous flow and power of nature.

“Rain on a window gives that lovely secure feeling that comes from being safely ensconced indoors, maybe with our nose pressed against the window, warm and cosy. The regularity of rainfall is that soft familiar backdrop to our indoor cosiness, when we may think about going outside, see the weather and change our minds.”

Bird sounds took the third most relaxing spot (33%), followed by fire cracking (23%).

Susan shares: “We enjoy birds singing as it makes us feel like all is well with the world. It may be springtime and they’re busy building nests, it may be 4 am in summer and they’re busy finding food for their young. Maybe happy memories from hiking as a child with family, stopping for a picnic, maybe soggy sandwiches, but the birds don’t mind and still continue to sing.

“Fire crackling is indicative of memories of cosy evenings, maybe with family, playing games, watching TV, maybe eating and chatting together. It may link in with visits to grandparents, toasting crumpets and marshmallows, all happy memories that can be triggered by a fire crackling, whether it be indoors or a bonfire or campfire.”

Sounds of nature seem to be the most relaxing, with the top 8 results all being sounds of the outdoors, elements or animals.

Explaining why these sorts of sounds are the most soothing to us, Susan shares: ‘The sounds of nature are often reassuring and repetitive, and are rarely harsh or forced. We often retreat to nature to unwind, go for a walk, take a camping break, and de-stress. Sounds of nature often link with a feeling of getting away from it all.’

Answers also differed depending on age, with results finding that Gen Z (aged 16-24) are the demographic most likely to engage with white noise for relaxation (22%). Results also showed that neurodivergent individuals are more likely to find white noise relaxing than those who consider themselves neurotypical (15% vs 10%).

Susan states: “White noise is often seen as a remedy and sought-out solution for stress or insomnia. White noise can be likened to sounds and frequencies such as radio static, a whirring fan, a humming air conditioner, or a vacuum cleaner. It’s super accessible as it’s possible to download white noise to use whenever it’s needed.”

Hannah shares: “For issues like tinnitus, you can help your brain distract and retrain by using white noise. Listening to white noise allows you to take your mind to an external sound, tuning out from the tinnitus and shifting your focus elsewhere.”

“Most people with tinnitus find that it can be temporarily reduced using the distraction method with things like a ticking clock, sound generator or hearing aids, which often come with dedicated tinnitus maskers built in.”

Being exposed to sounds measuring more than 70 dB (decibels) can start to cause damage to hearing after two hours of constant noise, and any sounds measuring more than 120 dB can cause immediate hearing issues. If you are worried about hearing loss, we recommend booking a free hearing test.

Learn more about ASMR and how certain sounds affect us here: https://www.bootshearingcare.com/lifestyle/relaxing-vs-stressful-sounds/ 

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4484 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is a professional writer and the owner of Need to See IT Publishing. However, Lisa is also passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing, being a qualified Vibrational Therapist. Lisa also has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.