When I scrolled through my news feed on Instagram this morning I stopped for a few seconds to look at a bird’s eye picture of a beautiful beach. A few colourful spots decorating the pristine sand eventually turning into the most intriguing mixture of blues.
It made me want to expand my screen, drill a hole in it and jump into the ocean. I was smiling just looking at the picture of water. Then my eyes wandered down where it said: “Being near water is proven to make us happier”.
Calm, peace and satisfaction
There’s no denying it. Whenever we stay somewhere near the ocean I always feel more motivated, inspired and just content. I thought that’s just me and my lifelong love for the ocean but apparently it’s a universal thing.
The blue mind. Marine biologist and ocean-conservancy researcher Wallace J. Nichols, PhD defines it like this: A mildly meditative state characterised by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.
How does water affect us?
Wallace J. Nichols hosts a yearly conference to understand the effects of water on the human psyche. Blue mind is the term he uses to describe this state of water-associated peace.
Bodies of water simultaneously change (waves, ripples) and stay the same (consistent background), which stimulates and soothes us when we look at it. It’s consistent without being monotone and triggers involuntary attention — a key characteristic of blue mind — which is an essential state for problem solving and creativity.
Our minds are working around the clock as we are in a constant state of overstimulation. Chronic stress is the result, which can lead to anxiety, depression as well as alcohol and drug abuse. Being on, in or near water can calm our monkey minds and help us focus and overcome creative blocks.
Many ways to enjoy water
Now you might think to yourself: “I don’t live near the ocean. I can’t tap into my blue mind.” The good news is that it’s not only the ocean that allows you to receive those benefits, any body of water will do.
Take a relaxing bath, enjoy a long shower, go swimming in a lake, river or pool or dig out the old dusty fishing rod for a relaxing day on the water. If you can, create a little sanctuary in your garden with a fountain you can retreat to whenever needed. An aquarium will do as well to reach high levels of serenity. And don’t forget to drink enough water.
It impacts all of our senses
The benefits we derive from water are physical, cognitive, creative and spiritual. It has an impact on all five senses at the same time. It triggers positive changes in heart rate and mood and therefore relaxes us. We don’t need to meditate to receive its healing effects; the sound of water meditates us.
Next time you feel anxious, stressed or burnt out, try to spend some time in, on or near water and enjoy the soothing feeling this natural anti-depressant gives you. Soak up all the goodness; bathe in the feel-good effects it provides. Get your blue mind on.