Love Our Oceans: Benefits of the Ocean on Mental Health
I love the ocean. Having the opportunity to swim with Winter the Dolphin, which inspired amputees worldwide, was a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. The ocean’s impact on my life didn’t start and end with Winter. Living in Florida, I have seen firsthand how transformational living near the water can be for mental health.
Swimming with Winter the Dolphin, and out in nature with my Great Dane, Rosie.
The ocean is a solace for millions who live near or visit the coast yearly. There’s a reason it has served as inspiration for writers suffering from trauma. It’s a place of healing.
How the Ocean Benefits Our Mental Health
But how does the ocean improve our mental health? The sea possesses many elements our brains find calming, from color to sound to smell.
Color: The ocean is known as a “blue space.” Research has shown that the color blue is often associated with feeling calm. Being surrounded by that tranquil color can help change your brain waves to put you in a peaceful state.
Sound: The sound of the constant crashing of waves on the shoreline can also cause your brain to feel happy. Scientists have seen through scans that sound can help activate your prefrontal cortex in the brain, leading to better emotional processing and self-reflection. The sound can also help balance serotonin levels, a chemical essential in regulating your mood. The tide's ebb and flow can also help you focus outside your body and meditate.
Smell: Ocean air also contains negative ions that can help your body absorb oxygen. That’s why doctors often recommend people with seasonal disorders visit areas near water, such as the ocean, a river, or a lake. Take a deep breath of that ocean air, and you may begin to feel more relaxed.
How to Enjoy Being By the Sea
While simply going to the beach is a significant first step in enjoying it, there are ways to heighten the therapeutic effects of being near the water.
Take Off Your Shoes: The feel of the sand or the water on your feet can help ground you in the present and increase your feeling of calm.
Be Present: Be present, and pay attention to your surroundings. How does it sound? Has the wind changed?
Get In the Water, Any Water: Being in the water itself can be highly therapeutic. Allow yourself to float on the surface and let your mind wander or go under and be grateful for the world's wonders.
Explore: If your mind is in constant need of stimulation, use the coast as a place of exploration. Not only does this keep your mind from dwelling, but you may also get to learn more about the wonders of the ocean.
The ocean is truly magical, with millions of ways to help ease our minds. That’s why it is vital to continue protecting these spaces worldwide before it’s too late. Be sure that when visiting your local beach, you also take a moment to take care of the habitat that has given us so much. Then watch how much better you feel after you visit the coast.
I also LOVE kayaking with my Great Dane, Rosie! She spends most of her time looking for dolphins as they frequently come out for air!
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