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Science Explains How Staying Near Water Can Change Our Brains

Posted by on January 20, 2020 in Sci-Tech, Science with 35 Comments

woman floating-compressed

By Jenny Marchal | Lifehack

Have you ever felt at peace when you’re walking by the ocean? A sense of rejuvenation when you stand by a waterfall? How about taking in the view of a breathtaking lake from your window? We can often report feeling a sense of calm when we’re around water and scientists say, this is having a positive effect on our brains.

So what exactly is happening to our brains when we surround ourselves with water? Well, the calming effect is down to a vacation for our brains from over-stimulation. Looking at water and listening to its sound puts our overloaded minds into a relaxed and hypnotic-like state with the benefit of this being a different way than our brain processes thoughts, leading to more calm and creative states and an increase in our well-being.

Often referred to as blue space, the impact of the sea, rivers, lakes on our happiness and well-being is being researched much more by neuroscientists and psychologists. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, has discussed and published the different ways bodies of water really can positively affect us and many psychologists have researched how just having blue space in front of you can boost your mental health.

1. Water Induces Meditative States

When we hear the crashing of waves by the ocean, it can actually put us into a mindful, meditative state. The sound of waves has been found to alter the brain’s wave patterns and invoking a meditative, relaxed state. Even simply observing the movement of water causes our minds to calm. This has numerous benefits for contributing to lowering depression, lowering stress levels, anxiety, and promotes better mental clarity and sleep patterns.

2. Water Invokes Inspiration and Creativity

When we’re near water, our brains switch off from busy mode to relaxed mode. This naturally leads our brains to open up because it’s not focused on the millions of thoughts swirling around that can often lead to stress or anxiety. When your brain is in this relaxed state, it is open more to inspired and creative thoughts. In essence, we are switching our brains off or giving it a rest from the norm causing a better mental environment for insight and introspection.

3. Water Gives Us A Sense of Awe

Awe is an important factor in the recently popular science of positive psychology. The emotion of awe contributes greatly to our happiness because it not only allows us to be in the present moment but it causes us to think about our place in the world around us invoking a feeling of being humble, feelings of a connection to something beyond ourselves and the pure vastness of nature.

4. Water Increases The Benefits of Exercise

Exercising is obviously a good way to improve our mental well-being, however, going for a run or walk by the ocean will increase these benefits tenfold. Going for a swim in a lake or cycling along a river trail will give you more of a mental boost than working out in a crowded city or gym environment. The idea is that being surrounded by blue space triggers a more positive benefit to exercising, with the intake of negative ions into our systems increasing.


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35 Reader Comments

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  1. Shayna Rene Hatcher

  2. Roxy Gri Roxy Gri says:

    that would be Aruba <3

  3. The Mediterranean!!
    Some places the blue is OMG!!???

  4.' Donna says:

    I grew up in Niagara Falls New York. Going to the Falls was my get away.

  5. Christopher Mercer

  6. Lived near the ocean and when I moved to the Midwest I bought on a lake. I agree. I could NOT live without a body of water nearby.

  7. Marilee Ann Marilee Ann says:

    Lantzville beaches. Shallow so when the tide comes in the water is warm and so clear.

  8. Vicki Bliss Vicki Bliss says:

    I believe being in the presence of water is vital to my wel-being. I have a fountain in the front yard, a 3 gallon fountain in the living room, a reef tank too, and a small pond in the patio. Add plants around and you breathe better in Southern California. The ocean isn’t far from me, but the beaches here are not great…still, I can hear the freighters in the L.A. Harbor and it’s a sound I enjoy.

  9. Kim Palumbo This made me think of you!

  10. Scott Sage you’re the loopy one.

  11. Amy Elizabeth Burgess

  12. Could lay on the Beach for hours

  13. Linjun Zhou Linjun Zhou says:

    Absolutely, it makes water leaking into you rbrain

  14. Leonie Nan Leonie Nan says:

    The port stephens area and I also like batemans bay

  15. Love the ocean it is a great love affair !

  16. Amanda Loree Amanda Loree says:

    It changed my mind all right… I feel like I am drowning; in traffic, tourism and plenty of noise. I am ready to make my way to the hills, maybe a pond would be better for me!

  17. Anna Lloyd Anna Lloyd says:

    Thats me, asleep in peace

  18. Peg Williams Peg Williams says:

    Where ever the water is aqua and clear but I like water in all forms; a cold glass of water, a warm gentle rain, a hot bath or shower, a jacuzzi, a swimming pool, creek, stream , River, pond, lake and especially the ocean. Put me on a boat in any body of water and I am in heaven.

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