What do you feel when you look at the ocean?
Staring at the horizon line with no worries in your mind; amazed by the sun’s light glistening on the water. Whilst the waves rush towards your feet in a calming fashion, it washes away your negative thoughts and energy, purifying your body and soul.
The ocean affects our mental health in positive and healing ways.
In historical time periods, people used water in healing rituals and spiritual relaxation. Bathing was a way to relax and connect with others in ancient Rome and in traditional Chinese medicine, water is considered an element that brought harmony and balance.
Similar to the way vast, green areas draw our attention and help us to feel a sense of inner peace, the ocean can change our aura and emotions. Spending time in nature seems to make us feel a little more alive and vibrant. But the question is, what draws us to the ocean?
Well, the five senses play an important factor in this phenomenon. Starting with the audition sense, the calming way the waves rush towards the beach create a soothing sound that helps calm our nerves and relax us. When this happens, we feel the fresh, cool breeze flow into our lungs, and we taste the slightest sea salt that was carried by the gentle wind.
As the water rushes against the sand and our feet, we look towards the horizon line; a serene, blue ocean and sky stretching for miles. The ocean waves produce negative ions that move quickly and have the ability to absorb oxygen and produce serotonin, which are happy hormones. Water also contains a natural occurring chemical composition; positive ions are created and this make the human body feel at ease. This explains why whether it be a dip of the toes or a swim, we feel relaxed; like an immediate weight has been lifted off our shoulders.
All of these factors help us to unwind and feel a sense of security; allowing room for us to let go of our worries and stress. The reason we are able to feel that way is because it affects our prefrontal cortex, which is the front part of our brain. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the front part of the frontal lobe covering the cerebral cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for expression of personality, decision making, social behavior and cognitive behavior. All emotions and self-reflection are associated with this part of our minds.
When we are in areas that tend to be nosier with a multitude of activity going on, our stress levels rise due to anxiety and caution. Our brain becomes wary of being put in dangerous situations, or in times when we might lose something important; for example, being cautious of pickpockets in the city or being attacked by an animal in areas we are not familiar with.
Unlike those scenarios, the surface of the ocean is flat and vast; we feel as though there is no danger or potential threat that could threaten our safety. Another factor that the ocean has that keeps us from feeling anxious is the predictable and soft pattern that the waves move in. In doing this, the ocean doesn’t overwhelm us with anything too distracting and keeps us calm.
It may also trigger memories, feelings and sensations of when we are relaxed and joyous, and times when we feel safe without a care in the world.
Some other good effects that the sea can bring us is decreasing our cortisol levels, which is also known as our stress hormones.
The noise the waters makes when it hits the surface of the land gives us a feeling of Zen. It can let us forget the stressful situations we are in, our problems, hardships and challenges. On top of that, it can boost our creativity, relieve pain, and help us get a good night’s sleep.
Studies show that people who live closer to the ocean tend to be more serene on average. If you are looking to achieve inner peace, the beach would be the best place to visit. Maybe after considering all these benefits, you will be inspired to visit the ocean or even purchase a house near it!
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed!
Until next time.