The Power of the Ocean
It’s no mystery that there is a meditative state that only the ocean seems to bring. While this may sound like some new-age mumbo jumbo to some, it turns out that there is some science behind this. A recent study by J. Aaron Hipp examines the power of “blue space” and how it psychologically restores us. Below are some highlights of how the ocean and the beach can actually help our brains, as well as some practical ways to get these benefits into our lives.
A Sensory Experience
Being at the beach engages your senses. It seems as if the ocean and the beach were designed to engage your senses in the most gentle way possible. The aquatic hues relax us like pale green or blue soothes hospital patients. Furthermore, the sound of the tide provides a rhythmic accompaniment that promotes a near-meditative state. Wallace J. Nichols, the author of Blue Mind, states that people “are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.” Richard Shuster, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, echoes these sentiments, saying that “the color blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us in a calm meditative state.”
Exercise on the Beach
We mention the benefits our brains get from exercise quite often, and we acknowledge that this might sound like a bit of a stretch at first. However, it’s actually pretty intuitive when you think about it. One of the great benefits of exercise is its ability to reduce stress. When it comes to stress, though, working out at the gym can sometimes be like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Rows of TVs and music blaring on the loudspeakers. Sweaty guys treating the gym like a singles bar. Weights all over the floor. Sometimes I leave the gym more stressed than when I went in. The beach, on the other hand, offers open, natural space and the lulling sound of the ocean. From a stress-reduction standpoint, which sounds like a conducive environment to you?
If you’re not quite up for running sprints in the sand but still want to get some of the health benefits the beach has to offer, consider some mindfulness meditation. Science has proven that mindfulness alleviates the symptoms of depression and anxiety and reduces stress. And while mindfulness meditation originates in Eastern philosophy, one need not ascribe to those beliefs to practice it. At its core, mindfulness means being engaged in the present moment. Just sit, close your eyes, and be at the beach. Notice the feeling of the breeze on your skin, the sun on your back, and the sound of the waves coming in and going out. Whenever thoughts distract you, just gently return your attention to the sound of the waves.
That’s Why We’re Ocean Recovery
The healing power of the ocean and the beach was not lost on us when we created Ocean Recovery. Indeed, it is no accident that we are located mere blocks from the Pacific Ocean. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, eating disorders, or co-occurring disorders, please consider seeking professional help at Ocean Recovery. Our alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs in Orange County offer plenty of opportunities for some salt water therapy and a locus to begin a new life.
Was this article helpful? Follow our blog for more information about substance use, addiction, and recovery. Recent posts include topics such as the principle of integrity in recovery and the health benefits of the sea for addiction.
Ocean Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial policy.
- Hipp A, Ogunseitan O. Effect of environmental conditions on perceived psychological restorativeness of coastal parks. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 2011;31:421-429. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2011.08.008
- Nichols WJ. 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. Little, Brown; 2014.
- Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for Mental Health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106.