Does the sound of falling rain make you feel chilled out? There’s a psychological explanation for that.
Being woken up during the middle of the night isn’t usually something I’d be grateful for – but when I woke to the sound of falling rain beating on my window last night, I was more than happy.
After weeks spent tossing and turning in a hot, stuffy bedroom, it was nice to feel the fresh air that the rain brought with it. But that wasn’t the only reason why I was happy to hear the rain. In fact, my pleasure came from that exact detail – the sound of the rain falling.
When I expressed my happiness about the rain to my colleagues this morning, I quickly learned I’m not alone in this feeling. Whether or not you’re a pluviophile – the word used to describe people who love rain – there’s no denying that listening to the sound of raindrops pitter-pattering is seriously soothing. But why is this?
According to Marianne Rizkallah, a music psychotherapist and director of North London Music Therapy, the answer has a lot to do with rain’s rhythmic qualities. Indeed, despite its natural origins, the sound of rain is quite consistent and predictable – and that’s what makes it so relaxing.
“Like how music affects both the autonomic and limbic parts of our nervous system (that look after our heartbeat and emotions respectively), rainfall’s consistent, predictable sound can help regulate our nervous system’s responses,” Rizkallah explains.
“Our minds become accustomed to the rhythmic pitter-patter quickly,” she adds. “It’s not too loud and doesn’t come with any big aural surprises – both things we know our brains are sympathetic to.”
Katerina Georgiou, a practising psychotherapist and author of the upcoming book How To Understand And Deal With Stress, also believes that the way rainfall appeals to our senses could also make it soothing to experience.
“The key thing here is that the sound of raindrops taps into our senses,” Georgiou explains. “When we’re feeling anxious about life or even in a state of panic, we can feel caught up in our minds and heads, and it’s well understood that grounding techniques that place us in connection with our senses can take us out of our minds and back in connection with our bodies.”
She continues: “The sound of raindrops helps us to do just this: the sound on the windowsill engages our hearing, while if we’re out in the rain, the physical sensation adds touch.”
Well, there you have it. There’s a reason why so many of us enjoy listening to the rain – and while the end of summer may be less than welcome, there are always those rainy autumn days spent wrapped up on the sofa waiting just around the corner.
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