Skip to comments.Can Simply Being Near the Ocean Wash Away Stress?
Posted on 07/23/2014 5:17:54 PM PDT by nickcarraway
A new book sets out to answer some big questions about the brain and bodies of water. "Blue Mind" explores why so many of us are drawn to the ocean, and how this scientifically connects to our health and happiness, CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports.
Most of us know that feeling of calm we get when we are on, in or just near the water.
"This is what you want if you're in the midst of a stressful week," said Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and conservationist who lives near the central coast of California. "You just want to hit that big blue reset button and get out here."
Nichols spent much of his professional life trying to protect endangered sea turtles. Now he's exploring the scientific reasons for why humans have such a deep connection with the deep blue.
"There are all these cognitive and emotional benefits that we derive every time we spend time by water, in water or under water," Nichols said.
The marine biologist dubbed it our "blue mind," the mildly meditative state our brains enter when exposed to water.
Initially, Nichols was apprehensive that people would dismiss him as a California beach-lover, but he attests that his thesis is scientifically backed.
"Once you get into it, you realize that it's chemistry, it's biology, it's physiology. It's deeply personal but it's also strong science," Nichols said.
The science is still evolving, but Nichol's work is getting plenty of attention. He began hosting "blue mind" seminars that are attracting neurologists and psychologists from around the world.
Brain imagining indicates that proximity to water floods the brain with feel-good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol actually drop. Scientists have also discovered that the brain prefers the color blue above all others and water increases our ability to focus.
"Our response to water is deep," Nichols said. "It's human, it's about life and it's about survival."
In fact, our bodies consist of about 60 percent water and our brains, a whopping 75 percent.
"So when you see water, when you hear water, it triggers a response in your brain that you're in the right place," Nichols said.
From rafting to kayaking to surfing, water therapy is increasingly being used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounded veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and depression.
"I think connecting public health to a healthy ocean is critical," Nichols said. "It helps you relax, just literally sucks the stress out of your body and out of your mind."
So the next time you gaze into that blue horizon, you'll know that feeling you get really is all in your head.
I just came back from the shore last week,and it was very relaxing.
If it does, do it again.
I also find torturing infidels until they repent to be very relaxing, but that might just be because of my Spanish heritage.
I freely admit, I must get a beach fix once a year. It soothes my soul in a way that I can’t quite explain. I always feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever life throws at me for another year.
I spent last weekend at the beach. The sound of those damn waves kept me awake all night.
It is relaxing as long as someone named Katrina is not coming in to visit.
We go to the beach regularly...While relaxing at times...sometimes at night the ocean sounds to me like a pot about to boil...kinda irritating...but only at night.
Well, my brother in law listens to Margaritville non stop,and that makes me depressed. So no sale!
seek professional help..lol!
I get the same effect by spending a week camping in Ontario or northern Minnesota, listening to the haunting yodeling of the loons at night.
I agree, I think looking out across the ocean or a large lake is extremely relaxing.
Every known form of life requires water. It’s necessary as a solvent to break down proteins and combine amino acids, and also required to transfer nutrients from one part of the body to another. Plus the sea is where all animal life spent most of its time evolving in.
I stay on the Bay. :)
I’ll find out in September at Ocracoke Island NC. Frat bros and beer.
So, people in NYC, Los Angeles, New Oreans should all be very relaxed as they are so near the oceans.
I think sunlight and vitamin D may have a significant contribution to the positive effects felt by going to the beach.
Driving golf balls out into the ocean is very relaxing.
The sound of water, the fresh breezes, etc. is all very relaxing. But I would think that for the majority of people, they are near the shore while on vacation - so relaxing anyway, whether it was at the beach or a golf course in Arizona.
I find freshwater to be more relaxing. I always hate having to shuffle my feet to avoid stepping on a sting ray, or feeling seaweed and thinking it was a jelly fish. Was never too worried about sharks.
Ha...you don’t live in Oregon.
I live 45 minutes from the ocean. When I’m stressed out that’s where I go, the sound the smell the sun.....it’s very relaxing.
A lake getaway is great too.
I’m 8 miles from the beach, but I have a nice pool with a lake just beyond the pool. I love the water... ocean, bay, lakes, rivers... they’re all good. I like the birds and life that’s around the water too.
The sound of the ocean is music to my ears. The smell of the ocean is stimulating. The sensations from the ocean are like a full body massage.
I live 3 blocks from the Pacific, and it is very relaxing, even though it is a constant roar.
Living in the desert, I get my biggest water fix when I sit on the stool.
I do like seeing the rushing water. I also like to sun myself for at least a twenty minute period. I think of the sand turtle as my model.
No ocean beaches around, but soaking in the hot tub, gazing at the Montana night sky is bliss.
“Can Simply Being Near the Ocean Wash Away Stress?”
Having grown up within earshot of the ocean, the smell of the ocean, spent my youth with fishing pole in hand on the beach, the offshore fishing barge, the all day boats, AND a lifetime working in the harbor then moving to, and living in the Inland Empire for the past 27 years I can assure all that indeed one can know the difference.
Yes simply being near the ocean does wash away stress.
Funny how the occupants of most of California’s oceanfront properties are screaming Leftists anymore. To the point one prefers the stress.
I have my own isolated little lake and cabin. Nearest dwelling is 3/4 mile away.
That must be nice, too! I love camping! I guess it doesn’t much matter if it’s a lake, a river, a brook, or the ocean...they all make me relax!
“Deep calls to Deep”
In a month, I will be sitting on my balcony watching the waters of the inside passage slip by.
It does for Me...
As a kid oh those many moons ago this old dude was transplanted to the south shore of Long Island two blocks from the Ocean becoming a beach rat and later Life guard where I breathed, inhaled the salty air and sea until all became a part of me Forty three years ago I relocated to a small abode surrounded by Peconic Bay Tidal waters beaches less than 100 yards away in all directions. My Daily bathe in these waters is and has been a second Baptism and Miraculous stress dissipater and I would not live anywhere else.
Can’t afford a house on the beach so I now live in a boat in the harbor. I’d say it’s cut way down on stress. Plus, no lawn to mow.
No. NY & LA are proof.
I am from Minnesota and we had a home next to a creek with a pond nearby. In the summers we went “up north” to a lake cabin. The sound of the waves against the rocks and the hull of the aluminum boat are relaxing.
For those away from an ocean, here you go: Calming Seas 11 Hours Ocean Sound for relaxation, yoga, meditation, reading, sleep, study https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f77SKdyn-1Y
12 Hours - Heavy Rain on a Tin Porch Roof with Thunder
We have a 40 ft sailboat ON the ocean. I spend as much time there as possible and would live on a boat in a heartbeat if I could talk hubby into it.
I tell everyone.......if anything ever happens to hubby you’ll find me living on the boat. Can’t think of anything better.
Lake beaches yes, Beaches along the Great lakes are nice. Beaches in Alaska and Washington state are nice.
You can have all your white sandy beaches.
Swimming, in at least a somewhat controlled environment.
Yay!!! good for you. I could live on our sailboat. Our boat is surrounded by live aboards that wouldn’t have it any other way.
The secret to living on a boat is to not let the water in. From above or below!
Even if I had the $$ I am not sure I wouldn’t go nuts living on a boat. Many are too small and seem restrictive.
I would probably go stir crazy.
I was standing in the middle of an Iowa cornfield tonite. It’s about 7 feet tall now. A beach has a sound to it that can be relaxing. But a cornfield has its own sound too. Very relaxing. It has a certain sweet smell to it now also. Good times.
I believe that the energy released from the crashing waves is what recharges my body. I know...woo woo right? I just know that when I head to the Oregon coast..and spend a bit of time walking or just standing by the crashing waves...I feel better and calmer and ready to tackle any thing.
I also think some of us are water people and some of us are recharged in a different way.
I am lucky to live where I do and lucky to be married to a man who understands my need to be near the pacific ocean.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.