I love the beach. It is my happy place (and as you can see from my picture, I think it’s my dog Baxter's happy place too). I have recently started to investigate why the beach gives me this ‘zen’ feeling.
Research (known as Blue Mind Science by Wallace J. Nichols) is emerging that shows the ocean to be one of nature’s relaxants, and leads to improved mental and physical health and wellbeing. Specifically, studies are finding the ocean can make us happier, healthier, more connected, and function better.
It has been theorised that the ocean supports health benefits through its activation of our senses, and the ocean puts us in a mild meditative state. The bodies senses have been shown time and time again to help ground us, settle our thoughts, slow down the body, and connect us to the present moment.
Smell: I think my favourite part of the ocean is the smell…. The salty fresh air is so uplifting! There is a theory that the ocean breeze has an extra electron which we breath in (as does waterfalls and mountain streams). Once these extra ions (known as negative ions) reach our bloodstream, they are thought to boost our serotonin levels. Serotonin is the happy chemical, and increased serotonin levels reduce stress and depression, as well as act as an energiser!
Sound: The beach has predictable wave patterns, at regular intervals, that are soft in volume. It is suggested that the soothing and pulsating rhythms of the waves activates our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), and increases blood flow to the brain and heart. The PNS is the part of our nervous system that slows us down, relaxes us, helps digest our food, regulates our emotions, have perspective, provides clarity of thought…. And simply chill out…. thus reducing anxiety and stress!
Look: Research has shown that when we look at the waves coming in and out, this ebb and flow changes our brain wave frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state. Additionally, the colour blue has been overwhelmingly chosen as humans favourite colour, and is connected to peace, calm, credibility, wisdom, cleanliness, and confidence (check out the logos of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc). Research has also found the colour blue to inspire creativity!
Feel: The warm rays of sun, the sand between your feet, the fresh ocean breeze blowing against your skin and hair, and the fresh water washing over your toes…. These all help to trigger our sense of touch, and allow for absorption of free ions that will energise us.
So next time you are feeling like a pick-me-up, head to the ocean,
and get yourself a dose of ‘Vitamin Sea’.