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.