For centuries human kind has settled along our coastlines. Why? The sea is a provider – a lifeline for our survival. Weather and climate effects every living organism on our planet and is governed by the oceans and their currents. Without the ocean life simply wouldn’t exist. More importantly today, more than ever before, the ocean absorbs around a quarter of the CO2 we humans produce and is one of the largest carbon sinks. It also provides an essential source of food, allows us the possibilities to travel, trade goods but greater yet, it’s a medicine having the power to heal, improving physical health and wellbeing.
January blues are amongst us as we endure another lockdown, low temperatures, dark evenings and persistent rain along with the current uncertainty. This can understandably bring morale down. While hibernating in the warmth and comfort of your own home might seem routine, you in fact need quite the opposite and there is science to prove it. The urgencies of daily life often leave us disconnected with nature but studies show that regaining a balance is directly linked to improving physical and mental health and is now used in the medical industry by doctors today.
Studies into ‘blue health’ have looked at how the colour, sound, air, sand and temperature of the ocean effect our mind and bodies. Colour has a bigger impact that you might think on our emotions, so much so, that brands often use particular colours when marketing, in order to target their audience. Every colour relays a different emotion, for example; the colour blue imitating the sea and sky conveys a calming effect. Research undertaken has proved, people living near the ocean who are exposed to the blue sea and sky are happier with less mental health issues regardless of financial income. Also, coastal habitants are more likely to exercise regularly, be that surfing, sailing or walking adding to the health benefits to be gained from this.
Not to mention, the rhythmic sound of the waves and just staring into the horizon of the ocean can alter our brain waves frequency and put us into a mild meditative state; de-stimulating the brain allowing us to relax and even boost creativity.
“Need some fresh air!?’
This common term is often used when we want to de-stress and there’s a good reason behind it. The psychological effects of ions have been reported for over eighty years now. So what exactly is it?
An ion is an atom, or a group of atoms with a net electrical charge. They can be either positively or negatively charged. But the one with the feel good factor are negative ions which occurs naturally in our atmosphere.
These atoms can be found in thunderstorms, ultraviolet rays from the sun and where water collides, meaning there are in plentiful supply at our coastlines. The negative ions effect the human body by increasing the serotonin levels, helping alleviate the feeling of depression. It relieves psychological stress and anxiety.
In contrast, an over-exposure of positive ions which many of us suffer from, is caused by electrical equipment such as our phones, it makes us feel drained and lethargic. A simple walk along the beach could be one simple way to top up our negative ions, boost our daily energy and maintain positive mental balance.
Is it an eccentric concept that cold water immersion could be a real life miracle cure?
Cold water swimming has become increasing popular and its enthusiasts swear by it. In many cases people have even declared that it has saved their lives, both mentally and from life changing physical injuries. Wim Hof, better known as the ‘Ice Man,’ has become a global celebrity due to his ability to control his mind and body in freezing temperatures and shares his techniques with people from all over the world.
Swimmers and surfers cherish the benefits from the cold water. The white blood cell count increases boosting the immune system. Improved circulation occurs by forcing blood to the surface and overtime and repeated exposure, the body is able to adapt to the cold temperature and strengthens immunity. Euphoric feelings are in abundance due to the endorphins released in the brain along with on occasion, increased oestrogen and testosterone levels which in turn give us higher self-esteem, more confidence and enhanced mood.
It is common practise for athletes to partake it cold water therapy as it can be an effective part of recovery, reducing muscle pain and soreness but also, is used to help injuries by reducing swelling and the tissue breakdown by constricting the blood vessels. This is not only something that is exclusive to athletes but everyday folk can benefit too. Basically, get your glad rags off, take a dip in the ocean and feel the benefits!
For many of us, the recent circumstances have forced us to pause. The need to rekindle our connection with nature is crucial to change our behaviour towards our planet and home as a species.
So, however you choose to experience the ocean, take from it what you want, but in return, we must protect it, after all it is our lifeline…