Science Says: Being Near The Ocean Changes Your Brain, And You Won’t Believe How

Speaking of things that are capable of relaxing us naturally, there are only a couple of things that rank higher than the ocean and its waves crashing on the shore.

However, it is not only the sea that puts as at ease.  Our bodies know how relaxing and easing large bodies of water are, whether it`s a lake, cascading waves, a coastline, a swimming pool, or a creek.  Simply put, water is an inevitably calming presence in our lives.

We are fully aware of this, as being by water feels good for us. Interestingly, multiple studies now show that water, specifically the ocean, can stimulate creativity, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote compassion.

This information is coming from Wallace J. Nichols, marine biologist and the author of  Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.

“We have a ‘blue mind’ — and it’s perfectly tailored to make us happy in all sorts of ways that go way beyond relaxing in the surf, listening to the murmur of a stream, or floating quietly in a pool,” he explains.

For him, a “Blue Mind” is kind of tranquil mind or  “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water, from the color blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion.”

This is what we know instinctively when we think about water and its calming effect. Water induces relaxation, focus, and mindfulness.  Therefore, it`s no wonder that being near water can have an enormous impact.

According to Nichols, water provides countless benefits for humans, both emotional and social. As he explains, “Nature is medicine – a walk on the beach; a surfing session; a stroll through the woods heals us. It fixes what broken inside of us. Nature can reduce our stress, it can make us more creative and bring us together.”

This explains why we feel awed when being near water, like walking down the beach or beside a lake.  Nichols notes that  “This sense of awe moves us from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ perspective. Awe and wonder, and passion takes over in water. There is a feeling of connection to others and something beyond the immediate.”

With this being said, it`s no wonder that people choose locations by the water when celebrating their meaningful events like weddings or anniversaries.  It also make sense that many people`s dream is to retire to a waterside location.

It is also worth noting that a study by researchers at the England’s University of Exeter found that those who live closer to the coast are both happier and healthier. The team of researchers used data from over 48 million people to prove this.  In addition, a study done by at Canterbury University, Otago University, and Michigan State University found that being able to see water leads to better well-being, reduced stress, and improved mental health.