While most of us will agree that the ocean has a positive impact on our physical well-being, being a place of fun and exercise for a lot of us, did you know that the ocean also is a place that can heal the mind, body, and soul?
Over the past two years a lot has changed in the world, and, no matter where you live, the pandemic has had major effects on all of our lives. One aspect it has specifically and dramatically affected is our mental health. This pandemic has seen many facing challenges that have been stressful and overwhelming, severely affecting our mental well-being. Further, with restrictions such as lockdowns, isolation, social distancing, and mandates being constantly imposed upon us, people have been left feeling detached and lonely. This can increase stress, anxiety, and even levels of depression.
Since March 2020, when restrictions were first introduced in Australia, researchers began gathering data. The evidence they have collected reveals that psychological distress has increased drastically and there is a heightened use of mental health services. In Australia alone, between 16th March 2020 and 27th June 2021, almost 17.6 million mental health-related services were accessed, while by June 2021, Lifeline had increased its number of calls by 19.1% since 2019, receiving 81,033 calls in just four weeks. Additionally, calls to Kids Helpline and Beyond Blue also increased significantly from that 2019 statistics.
Stress and anxiety can have a range of negative effects on our bodies. They can cause feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration; they can cause changes in our appetites and energies, which also cause difficulty sleeping; and they can impact the interactions that we have with others. However, we can also experience physical reactions to stress and anxiety, such as headaches, body pains, and even chronic health problems. It is even widely believed that the long term effects of stress and anxiety can manifest in life threatening diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Unfortunately, we cannot go back and change what we have all gone through during this pandemic, but what we can try to to do is to help ourselves and others deal with the impact of the stress it has caused in the best way possible. And what better way than using the healing powers of the ocean?
Humans have been aware of the healing properties of the ocean for thousands of years, dating back to when the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians understood the therapeutic properties of seawater. It is an entity that we are naturally drawn to and most are mesmerised by it’s rhythmic motion. Furthermore, Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle all recommended spending time immersed in the healing qualities of the ocean for the human soul.
So let’s take advantage of its power to help us heal. Here are just some of the healing powers the ocean has:1. Grounding with nature
Immersing yourself in ocean water is a great way to help ground you. Grounding occurs when the body encounters the Earth in its natural state. Our bodies and cells have electrical energy, and with the high prevalence of electromagnetic waves, Wi-Fi and mobile phones, our bodies often build up with a high number of positive electrons. When we have this direct contact with the Earth, by walking barefoot along the coast or going or a swim in the ocean, the negative charge of the Earth balances out our positive electrons. The modern world can drain our bodies of natural energy, and by coming into contact with the ocean, it can help re energise us.
2. Lowers stress and anxiety
Humans are naturally drawn to the water, as it has the ability to make us feel calm. The ocean is well known for being a meditative and relaxing place, with many studies showing that it can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, with one study showing that the effects were even comparable to antidepressants. But it isn’t just being in the ocean, it is also hearing the ocean that can relax us. With modern day noises, such as traffic and construction adding to our stress hormones, the ocean works in reverse, decreasing cortisol levels in our body, which in turn decreases stress. If you can’t get to the ocean but do need some relaxation, even listening to ocean sounds have shown to stimulate a more relaxed state.
3. Can inspire our creativity
The ocean isn’t just a place to help our emotional state, it is also a place that can spark our creative side. All different types of artists, from all over the world, are constantly drawing inspiration from the ocean. The ocean holds beauty and mystery, which allows our minds to rest and wander freely. This mode of thought is extremely important for creativity and, by turning off that overactive side of our brain, we often find ourselves coming up with more ideas. Just like the water, the ocean allows our creativity to flow.
4. The ocean is therapeutic
The ocean also has therapeutic properties and using seawater for medicinal purposes even has its own name: “thalassotherapy.” Historically, doctors would recommend their patients to go to the seaside to improve many illnesses, and to this day many healing and spa resorts are located by the ocean. So how can the ocean be used to treat our bodies?
- Cold water therapy
You might have seen many athletes heading to the ocean after a big game or taking an ice bath to recover. This is because they are using cold water to heal their bodies. Being in cold water, especially natural water such as the ocean, helps your body to repair itself by helping blood vessels circulate oxygen to your muscles, while reducing swelling in parts of the body. The increased blood circulation from the cold ocean water improves immunity and muscle recovery.
- Ocean water is healing
As salt is naturally antibacterial, as soon as any cuts or skin irritation touch the water, it immediately helps to heal them. Salt water is highly detoxifying and helps remove impurities from your body and skin. Ocean water is also significantly rich in minerals including sodium, chloride, sulphate, magnesium, and calcium, which makes it highly beneficial for many skin conditions. Additionally, when you combine this mineral rich water with the health benefits from the sun, it can regenerate your skin from the inside out.
- Boosts immunity
The ocean has the ability to strengthen our bodies cellular biology by increasing the amount of red blood cells in our bodies. In fact, it has been estimated that after a swim in the ocean, the number of red blood cells increases between 5 – 20 percent, while the number of white blood cells is thought to increase even more. Ocean water can boost our immunity by increasing our body’s ability to fight off viruses and bacteria and is even used in modern medicine on a large scale.
5. Improves sleep
Not getting enough sleep is one of the biggest things that can impact both our emotional and physical wellbeing, and the most common factors that inhibit sleep (stress, physical energy, anxiety, hormonal imbalances, and depression) can all be addressed by spending time by the ocean. The negative irons found in the waves of the ocean, can speed up our bodies ability to adsorb oxygen and reduce levels of stress. Sitting by the ocean unconsciously makes our bodies breathe more deeply and slow our heart rate. The ocean can also help return our bodies to their natural rhythm and help us fall into a restful state.
So what are you waiting for? Use the ocean to your advantage!