Ever wonder why we feel so calm by the ocean? Why millions of travelers every flock to the beaches to relax and unwind by the water?
Science has explained why we might feel an improved sense of physical health and well-being when we are close to a body of water.
“This deep biological connection has been shown to trigger an immediate response in our brains when we’re near water. In fact, the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation. Thanks to science, we’re now able to connect the dots to the full range of emotional benefits being on, in, or near the water can bring.” Wallace Nichols, author of Blue Mind.
Red Mind, Blue Mind
Wallace Nichols also refers to a term called ‘red mind’. This is the state of anxiety and information overload from urbanization and our dependence on technology. He believes that being near, in or on water can be the antidote to red mind. An American Psychological Association (2017) report on stress and technology noted that just under half of all adults, and 86% of young adults, have become “constant checkers” – they are always checking their phones to see if they got an email or notification.
Just looking at pictures of water can be enough to make people feel calmer. A study run by Michael Depledge, chair of Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School, showed participants pictures of greenery and water. “Images with green space received a positive response, but images with both green and blue got the most favourable response of all.”
What can I do at home?
If hanging out by the beach isn’t on your to-do list, don’t worry there are some things you can do. You can listen to sounds of flowing water, it can be very meditative for some. Believe it or not, showering can offer some of the similar effects that an ocean can. “The shower is a proxy for the…ocean,” said Wallace Nichols to the Huffington Post. “You step in the shower, and you remove a lot of the visual stimulation of your day. Auditorily, it’s the same thing—it’s a steady stream of ‘blue noise.’ You’re not hearing voices or processing ideas. You step into the shower and it’s like a mini-vacation.”