Have you ever wondered why the most popular holiday destinations are on the beach, near the ocean? Do you ever get this sense of complete calm when you are near a mass of water? Even think about it, some of the most romantic places to take stroll are by the seaside or along the beach.
There is a scientific explanation as to why people like to be around water; it is because it has a calming effect on our brains. We lead busy lifestyles, and sometimes the brain overloads. But, if you take a minute and look at large masses of water and listen to the soothing sounds, your mind will enter a relaxed, almost hypnotic stage, instantly giving you a sense of calm.
The blue color of the ocean or sea also has a role to play. Many people associate the color blue with openness, calmness, wisdom, and depth. This could explain why it is a favorite color for many people.
Why does water have such a positive effect?
Being around water allows us to go back to our ‘blue mind,’ a place where you can escape the over stimulation that comes with modern life. You give your mind the chance to restore and rejuvenate itself. The use of nature in promoting a sense of calmness is not an entirely new concept. For a long time, the focus has been on the benefits of nature, but now there is more interest in water and its effects on humans.
One of the theories that try to answer the question above has to do with the acoustics of water. Auditory neuroscientists say that a pleasurable sound has a predictive pattern. The patterns are volumes that are soft, low pitches and harmonic frequencies which occur at predictable intervals. Much like what you would observe if you were to take a look at the rhythm of the ocean.
More disruptive sounds like traffic result in the body releasing cortisol, a stress hormone, which leads to tension, increased heart rate, and anxiety. Exposure to the sounds of the ocean will immediately lead to lower stress levels and a more calm state for the individual.
Studies have shown that the pleasure that an individual achieves by being near water is better than the satisfaction they would get if they had gone for a shopping trip. Even when looking at pictures taken during a vacation, the individual will get a better feeling when going through pictures taken at the beach, than those taken during a spending spree.
Water and Meditation
Hearing and seeing water in motion will induce a meditative state. There is a direct link between the sound of waves and brain patterns. The benefit is lower depression, less anxiety, mental clarity, and better sleep patterns.
Ask anyone who lives by the ocean if they have a problem sleeping, and we can bet that the answer will be a resounding no! You will even find alarm clocks that have the sound of waves; the white noise they generate is a great way to put yourself to sleep. Do the same in the toddler’s room, and your days of singing lullabies will be long gone.
Even if you do not have access to the ocean or seaside, how about getting an aquarium or small water fountain for your house. The auditory and visual cues will give you the same level of peace as you would get if you were by the seaside.
Water and Inspiration
It is not an uncommon sight to find an artist sitting on the beach. Poets, painters, writers to name a few, say that being around water gives them a feeling of peace and wellness. Water has a calming effect on the mind and will allow you to focus better while getting rid of anything that can lead to stress or anxiety. You’ll find that you are more creative because your mind is open enough to get inspiration from everywhere else. How about a kayak excursion to relieve the stress of the week? Choose a good quality kayak and see the positive effects of paddling and being around water.
Water and Exercise
Imagine trying to jog along a sidewalk or within an enclosed gym environment. Now imagine jogging at the beach, which one has a more calming effect? The blue space will help you enjoy the exercise better, thereby significantly adding to your sense of well-being.
If you prefer not to jog, you can take a dip in the ocean, not only is it extremely pleasurable, but it is a great form of physical exercise.
Hydrate well after exercising, even if you are near a large mass of water. It will help you reduce joint and muscle tension and keep your skin smooth.
Water and Awe
If you stand near a large body of water, you will get a feeling of Awe. You suddenly realize how ‘small’ you are in comparison to the universe. The Awe will temper your ego, expand your sense of wonderment, make you more generous, and generally allow you to be more content with your lot in life.
Water and Negative Ions
The air around water has minerals that can help us reduce stress. The Negative ions help with oxygen flow to the brain, thereby giving us more energy and increasing levels of alertness. Saltwater is especially helpful because it elevates the levels of serotonin, melatonin, and tryptamine, which help with keeping away depression.
Humans naturally gravitate towards water anytime they feel a need to relax or are thinking up of a holiday destination. Think about the number of times you have come home from work, and all you want to do is soak in a hot bathtub, or go for a swim. Water has a calming effect, and there is science to back it up. The sounds will induce a feeling of calmness; the negative ions will lead to the release of hormones that lower stress, among others.
The best thing about it is that even if you do not have access to the ocean or sea, just staring at the fish happily swimming away in the aquarium will have the same effect.