I’ve mentioned throughout various blog posts and on my Instagram (casual plug) that there’s nothing I like more than taking a walk by the sea. I’m lucky that in my hometown we have numerous beaches all within twenty minutes away, and when Jordan and I were living in Swansea it was only a five minute walk to the beach! I hope one day I can be that close to the sea again.
However, my love for the sea got me thinking; what are the actual effects that it has on our minds and our bodies? I always feel a lot calmer when I’m at the beach. Being in the fresh air and the breeze with the sound of the waves always makes my worries seem far away. But why is it that it happens, and are there any other benefits it has on our bodies? I decided to do some research and compile it in a blog post to show you why you should take the time to visit the seaside if you can!
The power of the colour blue
As blue is my favourite colour, it’s no wonder I’m drawn to the beach! Though in the UK the sea and the sky is usually more grey, the colour blue has always been associated with calm and quiet. Marine biologist Wallace Nichols has written all about the “blue mind” and how as humans we are drawn to that colour as well as water in general. Looking at the horizon and the open space instantly gives us that sense of tranquility. We are usually surrounded by an urban environment so that change in colour improves our mood. A study was actually carried out at the University of Exeter where people were shown photos of different environments. The people liked the pictures with both greenery and water the most, as well as preferring the urban photos with images of water features like fountains.
The sound of the sea
White noise is something that can help a lot of people feel calmer, and the sound of waves acts as this away from the hustle and bustle of life. It acts like meditation, listening to that constant but rhythmic sound which affects our brain patterns, causing us to feel more relaxed. It also helps our brain produce serotonin and dopamine. Our brain can tell that it’s a non-threatening sound unlike an abrupt noise such as an alarm, so our bodies relax and many people can actually fall asleep to these sounds. It’s not just waves but the sound of rain, or even being in the shower provides us with “blue noise”. This is why we often have ideas in the shower because our mind can change to the default mode network, which is when our brain goes into a wakeful rest and allows for daydreaming. So the next time you’re feeling stuck creatively, why not take a trip to the beach or anywhere with a body of water such as a lake or river, and if not a shower can be just as good.
Although the sea in the UK is like stepping into Arctic waters, thalassotherapy is the use of seawater as a type of therapy. Though it hasn’t been scientifically proven, the traces of things like magnesium and calcium are said to be absorbed through the skin. A lot of people will visit thalassotherapy centres to have seaweed wraps and bathe in saltwater spas. You may not believe that this effective and would never pay to have it done, but the feeling that I described in my introduction of being in the fresh air surrounded by the water and sand is a form of thalassotherapy in itself. Centuries ago it wasn’t uncommon for a doctor to prescribe a visit to the seaside as a health cure, and my next point may show why that was.
Sun, sea, and fresh air
Typically in the UK, everyone flocks to the beach when the sun is shining and the temperature has risen. Of course we need to be aware of the sun’s rays and wear suncream, but the sun allows us to produce vitamin D, which in turn is beneficial for absorbing calcium, and endorphins. As mentioned before, the sea has various traces like magnesium which hydrates our skin and the salt can heal wounds. Not only does it help our body however, but the salt can also sustain serotonin levels. The sea air then contains negative ions which are found in nature, also helping our serotonin levels. Negative ions can be found in areas like cities or offices, and the lack of fresh air can give us headaches or make us feel ill, so getting out to the beach or anywhere in nature is essential.
The beach promotes a lot of exercise as there are plenty of activities which take place there. Swimming, surfing, playing cricket, throwing a frisbee, even just taking a walk. The beach is so wide and open that there is lots of space to do what you please. You may also prefer the environment of being out in the open with the sea as a backdrop instead of being at the gym or going for a run around your town. I’ve even seen people cycling across the beach. No matter what exercise you like best, for a change of scenery you could do it by the sea so you’re still getting your exercise with a twist.
From this, it is clear to see that being by the sea and water, or out in nature generally, has both its positive effects on the mind and the body. It was interesting to see exactly why I got the relaxed feeling that I have when I go for a walk on the beach, as well as seeing the other effects. Hopefully this will show you why its good to get out to seaside and if that’s not possible for you, try finding local lakes and rivers or even just a hike outdoors so that you can reap the benefits. Let me know down in the comments whether you’ve noticed a positive effect from being near the sea and thank you for reading!
If you’d like to know more, here are some of the sites I used for my research: