This post is part of Hard Refresh, a soothing weekly column where we try to cleanse your brain of whatever terrible thing you just witnessed on Twitter.
To the extent that “relaxing” online is possible, YouTube is full of relaxing content, from hot knife ASMR to unedited dog show footage. But sometimes I don’t have two hours to watch the 2017 Crufts sporting group competition. Sometimes I don’t have time to watch anything at all.
This is where relaxing nature sounds come in. When I find myself anxious but truly unable to take a break from work, I pop on a video from artist Johnnie Lawson’s YouTube channel to use as background noise.
The videos range in length from about 20 minutes (perfectly fine) to eight hours (what I actually want). They feature a wide swath of nature audio, from “Nature Sounds and Relaxing Classical Music” to “Forest Waterfall Sounds w/o Birds Singing” to “Forest Waterfall Sounds Birds Singing.”
OK, they are mostly just water sounds, but I love them. They’re muted, pleasant, and repetitive — not so repetitive that I notice, but enough to lull me into something resembling a productive rhythm.
They’re helpful if you want to sleep, too: One video, “Relax 8 Hours-Relaxing Nature Sounds-Study-Sleep-Meditation-Water Sounds-Bird Song,” has become a famous source of relief for insomnia sufferers.
One video has become a famous source of relief for insomnia sufferers.
Per the BBC, Lawson started making his videos as a way to “bring nature into people’s lives.” He films them himself in the Irish countryside, traveling to discover new shots, new sounds, and new scenery.
Lawson, who seems like a very nice person, began making eight-hour videos so that if insomnia sufferers woke up in the middle of the night, they wouldn’t wake up to silence. Even though I don’t use the channel as a sleeping aid, I appreciate the eight-hour clips, too. Yesterday, I started listening to one at work around 3 p.m., and only made it halfway through by day’s end. I clicked nothing; I chose nothing; I forgot I had the window open. I simply pressed play on eight hours of waterfall noise and went about my day.
And if I had reached the end of the video, it would’ve started playing another video of waterfall noise — perhaps with birds, perhaps without.
What a paradise.