For hundreds of years, people have been flocking to the shore in the summer months. To enjoy the sand and waves, yes. But for many, there is a more complicated reason behind their desire to spend time on the beach. It has long been believed that the sea air has incredible therapeutic health benefits that can help balance your body, reduce chronic pain, and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. So are these health-seeking beachgoers right? Can the sea air really benefit your brain and body? Read on as we delve into the science behind the natural healing powers of fresh wind and ocean waves.
How the ocean is good for your brain
The color blue
According to research, the color blue is associated with feelings of calmness, mental clarity, and even increased creativity. And if there’s one place to find an abundance of soothing blue hues, it’s the ocean. In fact, simply looking out over the horizon into the deep blue yonder can actually alter the frequency of your brain waves put you into a mild meditative state. This can help reduce stress, anxiety, and give you relief from the cares of the world.
The color of the ocean isn’t the only way that spending time on the beach can improve your mental health. Simply sitting still and quiet and listening to the waves crashing against the shore can lull you into a relaxed, focus, mental state. The ebb and flow of the ocean has been shown to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with slowing down your body and helping you unwind.
The feel of sand
Sticking your toes in the warm sand and leaning your head back to bask in the warm glow of the sun is one of the best feelings in the world. It helps you connect to the earth, and having your bare feet touching the sand can also help you feel more grounded and mentally centered.
Smell the salt air
Simply taking a whiff of sea air could even boost your mood as moving water is known to carry negative ions that deliver mental health benefits. These negative ions are found in places like waterfalls and the ocean and are even being used to treat issues such as seasonal affective disorder.
How the ocean is good for your body
Many of the people who seek out the healing powers of sea therapy suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and COPD. Fortunately, science does seem to back up the anecdotal claims of the ocean, clearing out the lungs and restoring healthy breathing.
Certain studies have revealed that sea air could help clear out the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. In fact, one 48 week study found that salt air alone contributed to a surprising improvement in lung function and decreased the need for antibiotics.
How to reap the benefits
Unless you live by the ocean, you probably only get to experience the amazing ocean therapy on vacation, hopefully once or twice a year. So how do you take advantage of this limited-time by the sea and ensure that you reap all of the benefits that the ocean has to offer?
Simply heading out for a day on the beach with all of your cares, worries, and ties to the business of life will seriously hamper any of the benefits that you could receive. Take a moment to breathe deeply, center yourself, and enter into a state of mindfulness. If possible, leave your phone behind and bring a good book, or a friend to talk to. This will allow you to unplug and live in the moment, which will enable you to experience the benefits more fully.
Focus on sensation
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the waves, feel the sand under your hands and feet, and breathe in the fresh, sea air. Activating all of your senses like this will give you a full, immersive experience.
Don’t forget the sunscreen
While most commercial sunscreens are loaded with parabens, sulfates, and other nasty chemicals, natural mineral sunscreens are a great, healthy alternative. Be sure to cover all of your exposed skin at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours or after a dip in the sea. A nasty sunburn won’t exactly increase the enjoyment of your vacation or day on the beach.
Do you notice that you feel better after spending time on the shore? Let us know in the comments below!