We can have a shower and be inspired, a bath to be calmed, a swim to be invigorated or even just a walk on the beach to be refreshed.
Even if our conscious state doesn’t understand it, something in our body and in our mind intuitively knows there’s something about water that’s good for us.
Blue Mind Theory is a scientific study that has shown the positive effects water has on all aspects of our lives including mind and body and ways that we, as humans, who are made up of 70% water, can benefit from time in the tide.
Blue Mind is the brainchild of Wallace J Nichols, Ph.D., an American marine biologist, and ocean advocate. Blue Mind was birthed from a coming together of ocean scientists, neuroscientists, tech experts, and ocean advocates at the California Academy of Sciences to understand and document the benefits of human interaction with water.
The study later became the best-selling book ‘Blue Mind’ explaining and exploring the positive effects of water therapy on the brain.
Blue Mind beautifully compiles evidence for the healing benefits of water, connecting the dots between proven scientific data, peppered with real-life experiences to make the most unscientific reader inspired.
The book takes you on a journey of discovery to understand why all humans seem to have a connection with water, whether we know it or not. Dr Nichols targets the idea that we are born with an innate association between life and water.
In his studies, Dr Nichols found the undeniable healing relationship between water and man –
‘US, ex-Army veterans have taken to the water as surfers, which has helped to ease anxiety, depression, and PTSD conditions. Other water-related activities, such as fishing, swimming, rowing, and simply walking around a lake are also being used as therapeutic practices’
The meditative blissful state of being by or near the water has been attested to by many poets, painters, scribes, and sailors, and scientists have now discovered that living by the sea can lead to an improved sense of physical health and wellbeing.
Water covers over 70% of the earth and makes up around 70% of our bodies and ‘this’ Nichols states ‘ deep biological connection between water and man has been shown to trigger an immediate response in our brains when we are near a body of water. In fact, the mere sight of water can induce a flow of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation
Contact with water, Nichols believes, helps to counter the dulled effect of what he calls the ‘gray mind’ which is more often than not a result of too much time indoors, consumed by technology, which he believes leads to lethargy, lack of motivation and dissatisfaction.
Micheal Depledge of the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK, along with Mat White, an environmental psychologist, conducted a study using photographs of green environments, then slowly added photos of coastlines, lakes, and ponds. The studies showed the majority of people who were shown the pictures preferred the ones with water “We repeated that with urban scenes, from fountains in squares to canals running through the city, and once again people hugely preferred the urban environments with more water in them,” Depledge stated. “Images with green space received a positive response, as Ulrich has found. But images with both green and blue got the most favourable response of all.”
It is now believed that bodies of water increase neurotransmitters dopamine (the happy hormone), serotonin (another happy hormone), oxytocin (the love hormone) as well as reducing cortisol (the stress hormone)
The sound, feel, and colour of the water can lower a person’s pulse rate and improve feelings of calmness as well as create a sense of awe that can expand a person’s understanding and compassion. Even staring at a fish tank can lower blood pressure.
Having a bath or going for a swim balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems which are the controllers of the ‘fight or flight’ response to danger and the ‘rest and digest’ mode. Resulting in a restored and improved state of calm in the body
A hot shower can ease anxiety, while a cold shower can invigorate the mind and body. Anything that recreates the sound of water is likely to ease stress and have a calming effect.
Saltwater is also rich in minerals that benefit the human skin. Magnesium, potassium, calcium, selenium, and sodium are all found in our oceans and have been proven over the ages to benefit human health. Eczema and psoriasis have been found to improve from time in the sea as well as acne and other skin bacterial problems.
Elements in the seawater are also believed to activate the body’s healing mechanisms and support healing for diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, localised aches, and pains, relax muscles and promote deep sleep
So, whether we are swimming in it, washing in it, drinking it, walking beside it, or just staring at it, water is certainly a source of life and In the words of Dr. Wallace J Nichols, “The waters are a source of lifelong calmness, peace, freedom, joy, wonder, awe, romance, creativity and we need to be reminded of that”