Have you ever wondered why being at the beach helps us relax that much? Most people think that’s just because of the time they spend away from their job, but the answer’s even simpler really. According to a new study, the ocean can cause changes in our brain which help us stay calm and happy.
There’s something magical in large bodies of water – seeing the never-ending ocean stretched out in front of you in the morning is both frightening and awe-inspiring. Gazing at the calm surface of the ocean can actually help calm us down and reduce anxiety, helping us enter a state of ‘blue mind’.
This has been scientifically confirmed by Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, in his latest book on this particular phenomenon. “The ocean is almost tailored in making us happy in different ways,” Nichols wrote. “The calm, peacefulness, and satisfaction we experience when staring at the ocean or any body of water for that matter can trigger sensation related to immersion and bring peace to our mind”.
What’s A ‘Blue Mind’?
The ‘blue mind’ state we experience when gazing at the ocean helps the brain relax and improves our focus. During Dr. Nichols’ latest TEDx Talks lecture, he says that the vast body of water has psychological, cognitive, and emotional benefits on our body and mind.
In fact, Nichols says that nature can heal us in many ways, be it staring at the ocean or taking a walk. “It essentially fixes what’s broken within all of us. As a matter of fact, nature can reduce anxiety and help with many other health problems,” he says.
Nichols says that the sense of awe we experience when at the beach is associated with moving from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ perspective. “It connects us to others in a way nothing else does,” he says. This connection to the whole is the reason why many celebrities spend a lot of time meditating near the ocean and why some ceremonies take place there.
Have you ever seen somebody furious at the beach? No – whenever we go near the ocean, we’re immediately more relaxed. This is why many people dream of retiring near the countryside and building a house beach.
An English Study Says That Living Near the Coast Makes People Healthier
A recent intriguing Exeter University research showed that the closer people live to the coast, the happier they are. The research gathered data on nearly 50 million people living in England and compared their happiness with their proximity to the sea. The results were clear – the closer people were to the coast, the happier and calmer they were. It’s a groundbreaking research which shows that nature can help us in many ways when medicine clearly can’t.
Even more studies have been conducted at this interesting research. Michigan University, Otago University, and Canterbury University have all taken a look at how the ocean affects our mental health, and the results have been stunning. The exposure to blue space which refers to the water visibility has been found to reduce anxiety and stress. As many other times, science has confirmed what we knew all along. In this case, the feeling of intuitively seeking water as we know it holds something special.