Updated: Aug 21, 2019
My heart longs for the ocean. It's my happy place. Whenever I can get in, around, or on the water I feel instantly cleansed and uplifted.
Maybe you've experienced this too. Many of us go to the water for life's biggest moments.
We want to go there to live, vacation, get married, relax, play, spend time with friends and family, and reflect on life's challenges and triumphs.
On a serious note - we sometimes even want to spread ashes there.
It's hard to debate that we are strongly drawn to the water. But what exactly does it do for us that keeps us coming back for more?
Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water. - Albert Szent Gyorgyi
How does being near water make us happier and healthier?
1. Water relaxes you
Being in, around, or on water reduces anxiety and stress, lowers heart rate and slows breathing.
Interacting with water gives us time to slow down, and engages us in a way that takes our focus away from the stresses of life.
Have you ever sat on the beach and just watched the waves crashing? Pure bliss.
Water's rhythmic flowing motion is mesmerizing because it gives us just the right amount of novel stimulation. It holds our attention loosely and induces feelings of calm.
Did you know looking at curves makes your brain happy? It's probably part of why we like water's wavy motions. (1)
For an extra relaxation boost, aim to surround yourself with the most biodiversity possible. (2) Think lots of colorful fish and coral of varying species.
A great excuse to go on a beach vacation!
~ Waves crashing (great for falling asleep)
2) Buying a small tabletop fountain
3) Walking by the water and sit somewhere you can watch the waves crash or river flow.
2. Water induces the release of dopamine
Your brain releases the "happy hormone" dopamine whenever you look at water.
Even looking at a picture of water (like the one above) can make you feel happier! Pretty amazing.
After all, it is essential to life and makes up about 70% of the earth's surface. We live on a water planet and it supports us with a place for play, relaxation, exercise, and food.
1) Incorporating water images into your daily life
Wallpaper for your phone, tablet, computer
2) Making some time to go to the pool, beach, lake, river, etc. Take the scenic route home that's next to the water.
3. Water induces flow
Interacting with water is an extremely rich sensory experience that engages your senses of sight, sound, smell, and touch.
Imagine you're on the beach hearing the sounds of the waves crashing around you, looking at the clear blue water, and smelling the salty air, fully immersed in your surroundings.
Imagine you're under the water. Water rushes over your skin, watery sounds fill your ears, with every time slows down and you are fully present in the moment
The stresses of life and racing thoughts drift away.
2) Watching this meditation video
4. Water encourages mindfulness
Interacting with the water puts us in a meditative state and allows us to stay focused on the present moment.
Related to flow, mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When we are mindful we maintain a "consistent awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment" (3).
Practicing mindfulness allows us to better regulate our emotions, build better relationships, and engage more fully with life (4).
1) This ocean meditation
2) Enjoying a nice shower. Take time to notice the feeling of the water rushing over your skin and the sound of the water flowing.
5. Water promotes exercise
The water is where many of us choose to do some physical activity.
And rightfully so since it's an incredibly fun and inclusive environment. People with chronic pain or disabilities that may find working out at the gym difficult, enjoy the weightlessness and ease that water allows them.
Swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, diving, snorkeling, sailing, etc
6. Water connects us to nature and the bigger picture
I've always felt that when looking out on the expansive ocean before me, my problems felt a little smaller.
The ocean has a great way of reminding us that life is bigger than just us.
Everything around us is part of a vast interconnected network, and we are part of it.
Water heals, connects, and provides for all living things.
Let's make more effort to enjoy and protect it.
Was that enough to convince you to add some more water to your life?
Let me know down in the comments how you're getting your water fix
Don't forget to wear reef safe sunscreen!
If you liked this article and want more I highly recommend checking out the book Blue Mind. Much of the info here was taken or inspired by it.