“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea — whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came.”
– President John F. Kennedy
The ocean shimmered, even at dusk, on that wintry day in Coney Island. It was my first encounter with a beach in several months, and I deeply missed the view.
I reveled in the way the tide rolled in and out in a tranquil rhythm, and I intently listened to the light waves reaching the shoreline. As cliched as this sounds, any pesky “troubles” faded away in those moments, the moments where I was breathing in the sea air and gazing out at the vastness of blue.
There are psychological benefits to water, especially oceans.
In a 2013 article, environmental psychologist Mathew White studied census data in England to gauge how living near the coast affects us. According to White, being closer to the sea “significantly improves people’s well-being.”
Other research relays scientific evidence that showcases the ocean’s ability to boost mental health.
Minerals in the sea air reduce stress; negatively charged ions in the sea air combat free radicals, improving alertness and concentration; salt in the water preserves tryptamine, serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain, which aid in diminishing depression or increasing your overall sense of wellness; and research has demonstrated that the sounds of waves alter the brain’s wave patterns, producing a state of relaxation.
Water temperature plays an integral role in emotional health as well. According to Dr. Connie Hernandez and Dr. Marcel Hernandez of Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View, California, “cool water in the spring and fall months provides a soothing treatment for your nerves, while warmer waters in the summer months relax your muscles.”
I can personally attest to this notion — when I’m fully immersed in the ocean’s lair, floating in the gentle waves during a summer afternoon, that’s where I feel the most centered and deliciously free.
“Water definitely makes me forget whatever is worrying me,” my friend said. “It kind of reminds me how insignificant they are, and how small I really am. It kind of hits a restart button and clears my mind.”
Research concludes that the ocean offers opportunities to de-stress, secure a sense of balance, relax and recharge.
On a Sunday afternoon this past March, just a few weeks shy of official spring, I caught a glimpse of the ocean in Long Beach, Long Island, and once more, I basked in the sun’s rays, relishing the scenic seascape.
By the water, I smile — by the water, everything is right.