It’s hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like therapy… Beach Therapy – Amy Dykens
Over twenty years ago, I made the decision to move from the bustling urban core of downtown Toronto to the peaceful and regenerative smaller city by the ocean- Victoria, BC. I have never once regretted my decision. I was called to this magical oceanside place as a child when I would go with my grandparents every summer to Vancouver Island and we would stay in little cabins by the ocean. I can remember being eight years old sitting on the sand overlooking the beach and saying to my granny: “When I’m an adult, I’m going to live here.”
I had never before smelled the intoxicating salty sea air, nor had I swum in a Canadian ocean. Needless to say, once initiated, I was hooked and dreamed of the day when I could live by the ocean permanently. I had my goal firmly set and once I finished my undergrad at the age of twenty-five, I bought a one-way plane ticket to Victoria and have lived around the ocean ever since.
So many of my local clients share stories of how they heal emotionally by regular visits to the beach and it got me wondering if there was any research done on the connection between being near bodies of water and emotional/physical/spiritual health. I’d heard about numerous studies on the benefits of ‘green space’ and even know another therapist who takes people into local old-forest growth parks for ‘forest bathing’ experiences. To learn about the benefits, read this article.
The health benefits of spending time by seas, lakes and rivers
“When I sit here by the sea and listen to the sound of waves, I feel free from all obligations and people of this world.” – Henry Thoreau
I found an excellent article which explains why blue space is so good for our health. Here is a snippet:
Most of us recognise the calming effect of a walk by the river or along a beach. Victorian doctors used to prescribe the “sea air” as a cure for an assortment of agues (fever) and ailments. But while the health benefits of green space are now well known, little analysis has been made of “blue space” – the impact of the sea, rivers, lakes, and even urban water features on our health and wellbeing.
Researchers in the UK found that the closer you live to the coast the healthier you are. There was also some evidence that other aquatic environments helped too.
Another excellent article on the topic expands upon this:
The waters ward off the depression and anxiety created by the relatively recent technological change. Almost all of the senses are engaged—sight, smell, hearing, and touch, and this physical immersion in reality makes us feel better, even though we sometimes imagine we can’t part with our phones for even a moment.
Contact with water also helps counter a dulled “gray mind.” Spending too much time inside, glued to screens, consuming news and entertainment, can lead to lethargy, lack of motivation, and dissatisfaction. Getting in, on, or near the water improves moods. Even just looking at images of water makes people feel calmer, scientists find.
So, if you can’t get to the beach, fear not; there are alternatives. Showering can change your mind for the better and boost creativity. That break gives your mind a little space to come up with creative ideas and to have epiphanies.
Michael Wenger, dean of Buddhist studies at the San Francisco Zen Center, recommends listening to water to clear the mind. He says that flowing or moving water is ‘white noise.’ Listening to the sound—allowing it to wash over you—is a meditative act that puts you in the moment.
Benefits of Sea Air and Sand
“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”– Isak Dinesen
Have you ever wondered why you feel energized and invigorated after a stroll on the beach by the ocean? This article explains the science behind it:
Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that builds our body’s capacity to absorb more oxygen. The use of modern technology (laptops, gadgets, microwaves etc.) exposes us to unhealthy free radicals which erode our body’s natural energy, but when we are by the sea, we feel energised and relaxed at the same time.
People with sleep disorders are usually advised to be around the sea as often as possible because it induces good sleep. Even walking barefoot on sand neutralises the impact of free radicals in our body as sand contains minerals required by humans. This induces favorable physiological changes that promote good health, boosts our immune system, reduces inflammation and enhances circulation.
So, what are you waiting for? Get outside and hang out by the water! You’ll be glad you did.