You don't have to only use synonyms for this, you can use unique metaphors or creative descriptions to get your point across. You can incite thought without directly describing it. For example, this can suggest the sound of leaves:
The [wind] brought the forest to life.
The leaves were like a whispering audience.
The leaves sang a melody of comfort for those passing through the
You could come up with unlimited creative descriptions for the sounds of rustling in a forest. I'm sure your readers would actually prefer to discover the sound instead of being told so straightforwardly and blandly what it is. Of course there is the time for that but painting a picture is almost always more interesting and beautiful.
You can also find unique words that aren't necessarily synonyms of "rustling" to graft in emotions or moods, like this for a frightening scenario:
The horror of the situation was only heightened by the lonesome sound
of the leaves scratching and scraping one another.
Or for a pleasant scenario:
The leaves hummed and feathered as the women shuffled through the
We tend to hear things very differently depending on how we feel in a given situation. Describing your sounds like this can increase the drama and enhance the mood.