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Time to break out the towels and sunblock—beach season is almost here!
For many people who live near the coast, this means time to spend relaxing with loved ones. And for those further inland, it can mean a family vacation they’ve looked forward to all year.
But did you know that there’s real science behind why the sea is such a calming place to be? Keep reading for some ocean psychology facts that will encourage you to plan your next beach trip today.
Most people who have been to the beach are familiar with the warm, tingling feeling they get after kicking off their sandals to stand in the sand. But that lovely feeling isn’t just a coincidence—it’s science.
The earth has a slightly negative electric charge due to an abundance of free ions on the surface. Walking barefoot outside, also known as grounding, allows us to absorb those negative ions through the soles of our feet.
Combined with the stimulation of nerve networks and acupressure points in your feet, it results in that pleasant sensation we know and love. Some scientists even believe that this negative ion absorption can lead to better sleep and decreased pain.
The sand isn’t the only way for you to absorb negative ions at the beach. The crashing waves of saltwater fill the ocean breeze with them, too!
Many oxygen ions in the ocean air, which are formed by water molecules, have an extra electron attached to them. Absorbing these negative ions through your lungs gives you many of the same benefits as grounding. So while you’re sitting in the sun, recharge your brain through some deep breathing exercises.
Listen to Nature’s ASMR
The sounds of the sea have long been a favorite of white noise fanatics, for many reasons. For starters, ocean wave sounds are low in pitch, follow a regular pattern, and have harmonic frequencies, all of which are the ideal sound characteristics for relaxation. Sounds with these characteristics can also help you focus, making them the perfect background noise for practicing mindfulness and meditation.
The rhythmic whooshing noise is also thought to bring back memories of being in your mother’s womb and hearing her heartbeat. This leads to an overall sense of comfort, safety, and wellbeing.
Finally, listening to soothing ocean sounds can drop our levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that’s released by the body during stressful situations. High levels of it can contribute to health problems like heart disease and stomach ulcers, it’s important to keep your cortisol low by taking time to de-stress.
Take a Color Bath
Shades of blue are well known to have calming psychological effects, so surrounding yourself in shades of blue can go a long way toward reducing anxiety.
In fact, one study showed that the “blue space effect“—the result of spending time near a large body of blue water—can have positive effects on your health. Richar Shuster, PsyD, claims that it can put us in a mild state of meditation, which can increase your focus and improve mental health.
Soak Up the Sun
If you’re hoping to give your brain a boost, spend some time in the sun at the beach. Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is produced in your body when your skin is exposed to the UVB rays in sunlight. It plays a significant role in brain health and is thought to improve both cognition and memory.
Safe sunbathing is also a great way to improve your serotonin levels, especially if you suffer from seasonal depression. Just make sure you wear sunscreen to protect your skin from harm!
Don’t spend your whole trip to the sea sitting still—a long, romantic walk on the beach is one of the best ways to get your daily exercise.
Walking and running on sand takes more muscle energy than the same activities on a hard surface. So not only is it a stellar workout, you’ll get more endorphins (“feel good” hormones) from going a shorter distance.
But walking along the boardwalk has its benefits, too. Just 30 minutes of activity per day can help lower stress and improve mental health. So next time you’re at the beach, go for a stroll and visit the nostalgic shops along the shore—or, if you can’t wait, check out this website to get started now.
Embrace the Placebo Effect
Some of the ocean’s psychological benefits are due to the placebo effect, but that doesn’t make them any less positive. American culture and media have trained us to associate the beach with tranquility and relaxation. And for many people, going to the beach triggers fond childhood memories.
So to get the biggest benefit from your time at the ocean, log out of social media, put away your phone, and be present in the moment. Take some time to close your eyes and listen closely to the rolling waves as you feel the sun and sand on your skin, and embrace both the evidence-based and not-so-scientific perks of the beach.
Use Ocean Psychology to Find Your Zen
If you needed an excuse to plan your next trip to the beach, these ocean psychology facts should do the trick. A day at the ocean can benefit both your mental and physical health, so take advantage of the weather getting nicer and go spend a day on the water.
Before you head out, make sure you read about our top 8 fun activities to do at the beach with your kids!