We have a ‘blue mind’ — a scientist reveals how being near the ocean actually changes your brain.

We have a ‘blue mind’ — a scientist reveals how being near the ocean actually changes your brain.

- in HEALTH, SCIENCE
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@Ane Krstevska
ocean

There is always something magical about a large body of water.

For example, a stretch of the ocean across the coastline with never-ending waves. Then a large flat lake glistening in the early morning mist. Or a quiet dark pool at the bottom of a waterfall. A river passing by on its way to the ocean — all of these are the incredible tranquilizers of nature.

From our own experience, we know intuitively that it is very healthy to be near the ocean. Nowadays, science also demonstrates that the ocean also inspires positive and creative thinking. It reduces anxiety and also promotes compassionate thinking.

The latest research has been revealed by the scientist and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols in his latest book, named “Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do.”

 He writes:

All of us have a blue mind — and it is perfectly tailored in order to make us happy in all sorts of ways which go way beyond relaxing in the surf, as well as listening to the murmur of a stream, or floating quietly in the pool.

The book “Blue Mind” is defined as “a mildly meditative state which is characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, as well as a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water, as well as with the elements which are associated with water, from its blue color to the words which are used for the description of the sensations associated with immersion.”

When we sit near water and gaze out at it, we experience this state. It also includes a mindful state in which our brain is relaxed but also focused.

During one of the numerous TEDx Talks on the topic, Nichols explains that water holds vast cognitive, emotional, psychological, as well as social benefits. He explains:

Nature is humans’ medicine – a walk on the beach, a surfing session, a stroll through the woods heals us. It also fixes what is broken inside of us. Nature can also reduce our stress, make us more creative, as well as bring us together.

The author also speaks of the sense of awe which we feel when we step out onto the beach towards the water. A common feeling which was confirmed by his research.

He explains:

The sense of awe also moves from a “me” to a “we” perspective. Awe and wonder, as well as passion take over in water. There is also a feeling of connection to other people and something beyond the immediate.

Being near the ocean is a natural choice for a lot of meaningful events, celebrations, and ceremonies in our lives. Also, it is no wonder that a lot of people dream their whole life of retiring at the seaside.

Some researchers at the University of Exeter have found that people are healthier when they are living closer to the English coast. They also looked at data from around 48 million people in England from the 2001 census, comparing how close people lived to the sea with how happy they said they were.

Even just a simple view of the ocean can boost the mental health of the person.  

Researchers from Canterbury University, Otago University, and Michigan State University in the USA carried another study. In it, they looked into the relationship between the mental health of a person, as well as the exposure to green and blue space. Blue space actually refers to the visibility of water. According to the findings of the study, having the ability to see the ocean will contribute to wellbeing and lowering the stress levels.

As it usually happens, scientists come up with research results which are not surprising at all. A lot of people intuitively seek water, knowing that it holds something special for them. Nowadays, it is also backed with science [Image Credit: Alexiuss/Inspired by Hack Spirit]

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