Have you ever stared out at the ocean, totally in awe of its size and beauty, and felt a deep connection with it? This is not uncommon for most of us, as our emotional relationship with water and the ocean is largely unconscious and likely dates back to the origin of our species. In fact, many scientists believe the human species originated in the ocean and that humans were once semi-aquatic.
As humans in the 21st century, we still maintain this unconscious, biological connection with water because of how our bodies developed. We all began our lives immersed in the fluid-filled environment of the womb. When we were first born, our bodies contained around 70% water with concentrations within the brain reaching 80% water. As we age, this percentage drops, however, the density of the human body and water always remains very similar, which explains why we are often able to experience floating. Additionally, the mineral composition of the water found within our bodies is also very comparable to the water found within our oceans.
We are often inspired by the spiritual, mental, and physical connection we have with water and the ocean, and we can use their healing powers to our advantage to help restore our bodies and minds. In this article, we discuss the some of the many physical and mental health benefits of the ocean.
Salt Water is Good for Your Skin
Our oceans contain high quantities of natural minerals such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium chloride and sulphate, which are all healing agents for skin. The magnesium helps to reduce inflammation and acts as a moisturiser to keep the skin feeling hydrated. This also helps to improve our skin’s elasticity, while the sodium and potassium chloride work together to aid the healing process for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
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Saltwater Swimming Has Tremendous Health Benefits
The intake of these nutrients paired with the physical exertion of swimming allow us to work out nearly every muscle in our bodies while improving blood circulation to restore micronutrients within our bodies. These nutrients are often depleted due to the complexities of modern-day living, such as poor diets, stress, and environmental pollution. Furthermore, saltwater swimming boosts our immune systems, relieves cold and flu symptoms, helps muscles relax, and reduces muscle aches.
Cold Water Swimming, if You’re Brave Enough, is Better For Your Health
Regular swimming in cool or cold water has been proven to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and the immune system. Exposing body to ocean water, especially if it is cold, helps to boost the body’s immune system by increasing white blood cell production as the body is forced to react to the changing conditions. Submerging in cold water initially causes our bodies to release the stress hormone cortisol, which results in higher breathing and heart rates. The idea is to continue this process until our bodies become stronger and better at activating its defense mechanisms so that we can reduce the body’s reaction to stress - both in and out of the water.
Over time, the calming effect of the body regulating its stress response also helps the body to achieve lower cortisol levels which have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and help to improve the immune system's defenses.
Surfing is Good for Mind & Body
Spending time near or in the ocean is about more than just improving your physical health. it can significantly improve your emotional well-being as well. Our friends at the International Surf Therapy Organisation operate one of a growing number of mental health organizations that teach surfing to help people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, and even PTSD. Surf therapy, as it is called, can also be thought of as a form of adventure, not just therapy, and an alternative healing method, which has no potentially dangerous side effects that can be associated with psychiatric medications.
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Ocean Air Helps Increase Serotonin Levels
Due to the ongoing motion of the water and the rich minerals present, the ocean air itself is full of negatively charged ions, which are odorless and invisible molecules that help to harmonize and increase serotonin levels through inhalation. This neurotransmitter activity plays an important role on positively soothing the mind and helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Ocean Wave Sounds Calm the Mind
Utilizing all of our senses, including our hearing, around water is also incredibly healing as the sounds of the ocean waves can help the mind enter a relaxed and meditative state. The rhythmic sounds of the crashing swells help the body activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” state. During this stage the body relaxes and slows down. Due to the low pitches, soft volumes, and harmonic frequencies these naturalistic environmental sounds trigger the brain’s prefrontal cortex to be activated, which in turn, induces feelings of relaxation and positive mental wellbeing.
The Color Blue Is Calming
It’s not just the sound of the ocean that is healing; so is the color. You may have noticed that the color blue is often found within nature and has a strong association with feelings of peace and tranquillity. In fact, gazing out on the wide expanse of the blue horizon changes our brain wave frequency, helps to put us into a mild meditative state, while also boosting levels of creativity. The clear blue color and wide horizon allow us to clear our minds, and in a similar way to meditation, allow us to focus on the present moment and what is truly important. We call this practice mindfulness, or in this case, blue-mindfulness..
The Blue Ocean Life Experience Promotes Spiritual & Emotional Healing
We don't need scientists or psychologists to tell us that the ocean has real therapeutic powers. We know it through first-hand experience. If you've ever stared out into the ocean, particularly during a beautiful sunset, you feel a spiritual uplift & connection with life that science cannot explain. You just feel it for yourself.
About the Author: Lauren Williams is a sailor, nurse, and writer enjoying a simple life onboard a sail boat. She’s passionate about health, wellness and the ocean. She will be documenting every step of her journey on her Instagram page as she explores and looks to harness the healing power of the ocean.
(Disclaimer: please note that I nor the Blue Ocean Life Company are licensed medical professionals and for any guidance regarding medication and your health care, please consult with your doctor.)