With Memorial Day right around the corner, you may have plans to head to the beach for the weekend. And rightfully so, as the ocean is a place we all love to be. Whether it’s for the views, sunrises and sunsets, or a beach day with friends, the sea can offer the perfect escape.
In addition to an ideal vacation destination, you may notice your mood becomes elevated and your sense of calm is restored when you are around the ocean. In fact, spending time near the water can produce positive effects that make it a fantastic form of natural mental health therapy.
So, why exactly does being near the ocean make us feel good? The short answer: the presence of negative ions in the water. For a greater understanding of ions and how water and mental health are linked, keep reading!
Water and mental health
When we are in proximity with the natural world, we feel more at home because it grounds us and provides a sense of belonging. While this may seem like a generic statement, there is a great deal of truth in it. Immersion in nature and the ocean has been shown to reduce anxious and stressful feelings because it gives us time to mentally process the things occurring in our lives without any distractions.
The ocean and great outdoors can also channel our sense of creativity. Whether you enjoy writing, painting, or photography, creativity is a huge part of who we are and allows for a very different way of looking at the world around us. It can help us to identify our strengths, find new ways to cope with stress and emotions, and explore how we want to grow as individuals. All these aspects can be hugely beneficial, making ocean-inspired creativity an incredible mental health therapy tool.
Another perk to spending time near the water are the endless ways to enjoy it! From surfing and kayaking to fishing and swimming, the ocean offers something for everyone.
Negative ions vs. positive ions
Before diving into negative ions vs. positive ions, let’s quickly explain what an ion is. Ions are atoms or molecules that have either gained or lost electrons. They are also found throughout nature, predominantly in the air we breathe.
Positive ions are those that have lost one or more electrons. Somewhat ironically, positive ions are thought to have a negative impact on the body. They are commonly linked to a weakened immune system, fatigue, anxiety, a lack of energy, and more. These symptoms can occur when we are surrounded by an excessive number of positive ions that cause an overcharged state.
Common sources of positive ions include:
- Fluorescent lights
- Lightning storms
- Harmful pollutants and chemicals
- Computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices
And what are negative ions? Negative ions are those with extra negatively charged electrons. They are created in nature, especially by waterfalls, rainstorms, and the ocean. Whether we inhale or consume them, negatively charged ions are thought to produce beneficial biochemical reactions within the body once they reach the bloodstream.
Benefits of negative ions
Negative ions offer an abundance of benefits for the body, including anti-inflammatory effects, improved immunity, regulated sleep, and a boosted metabolism. When it comes to behavioral health and wellness, a major benefit of negative ions is their ability to increase the body’s serotonin production. The serotonin hormone plays a big part in our overall mood. Therefore, when serotonin levels are increased, it can help improve your mood, alleviate stress levels, and relieve symptoms of depression. Additionally, negative ions can increase oxygen flow to the brain, resulting in an uplifted, energized state.
Ultimately, the presence of beneficial negative ions in the ocean further shows how water and mental health are connected.
Other natural ways to boost behavioral health and wellness
If a trip to the ocean isn’t possible, don’t worry! There are plenty of other resources and ideas that can help improve behavioral health and wellness.
Need some inspiration? Try the following:
- Take deep breaths
- Meditate or take up yoga
- Eat a healthy diet filled with fruits and veggies
- Spend time with friends and family
- Get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night
- Practice mindfulness and gratitude daily
- Jot down feelings in a journal to work through them
- Use essential oils for an aromatherapy experience
Ocean therapy is a great way to clear your head, get some fresh air, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. It’s also an excellent form of mental health therapy for those struggling with anxiety, depression, and other behavioral health conditions. With summer right around the corner, there’s never been a better time to visit the ocean to boost your behavioral health and wellness.