It’s official: being in, on, or by the water is good for the mind, body and soul. This is nothing new. The therapeutic benefits of the sea have been well-documented for centuries. From the Romans and their thermal baths to the Victorians and their seaside resorts, humankind have flocked to the water hoping to cure their ailments since time immemorial. But exactly what is it about the ocean that benefits body and mind? Research shows that being on the water improves creativity, aids emotional wellbeing, and promotes relaxation. From reducing stress levels to encouraging better sleep, Northrop & Johnson discovers the benefits of being on the ocean.
The elixir and course of life, water covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, makes up nearly 70 percent of our bodies and constitutes over 70 percent of our heart and brains. However, despite being incorporated into therapeutic and healing treatments for centuries, it is only in recent years that the positive cognitive and physical effects have been scientifically proven. Scientists have shown that being by the water increases serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine levels, which all help to ward off depression and anxiety. It is also well documented that the cognitive connection of being by the ocean increases blood flow to the brain and heart and induces relaxation. The ebb and flow of waves creates a “blue noise” that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps lower the concentration levels of cortisol, slowing the heart rate and reducing blood pressure.
Studies have also found that the color blue is associated by many with feelings of calm and peace. Added to this, being by the water, surrounded by nature, gives your brain a much-needed break from the constant bombardment of sensory stimuli that surrounds us in our everyday lives. Simply processing the sound and sight of water is much simpler for your brain to process and so it relaxes into a “blue mind” – a mildly meditative, live in the moment, state of mind. Akin to mindfulness or the effects of yoga, the water calms the mind to a different state of awareness that allows for improved mental clarity.
And finally, even the sight and smell of the ocean contributes to our wellbeing. The negative ions – oxygen atoms around water that have an extra electron – can help with symptoms such as seasonal affective disorder, while the visual input of the horizon is simplified. So, next time you are by the water, or on board a superyacht, be aware of your senses and focus on how your body feels – breathe deep and smell that fresh, ocean air.
While it is evident that water makes us happier, healthier and calmer, it can also aid creativity. It is no coincidence that many of the greatest poets, painters and authors created their masterpieces while being by the ocean. The colors of the ocean and surrounding landscapes have inspired artists for centuries – the special light of the Côte d’Azur and the blue colors of the Mediterranean Sea have played their part in some of the greatest paintings from artists the likes of Picasso and Van Gogh. Being in a mindful state relaxes the brain, which improves mental clarity and helps us to focus. This is extremely important for creativity as it allows the brain to actually think about ideas rather than taking in constant visual stimulation that doesn’t allow connections to be made.
It is well documented that exercise is a natural way to reduce stress and has many health benefits, boosting both our bodies and mind. However, working out in nature, and better still, by the water, provides an extra boost. The ocean also provides plenty of opportunity for physical activities. From swimming and snorkeling to water sports that provide a workout, the ocean is an endless arena for fun ways to workout. Stand-up paddle boarding and water skiing are great for the core, while kayaking and rowing gives the whole upper body a solid workout.
The negative ions in sea air help with more than seasonal affective disorder. The oxygen atoms with an extra electron also boost the body’s ability to absorb oxygen and balance serotonin levels. Added to this, sea air is generally cleaner and fresher than on land and contains higher levels of oxygen, all of which improves sleep.
From better sleep to boosted brain capacity, it seems that the benefits that proximity to the ocean can bring can make us feel happier, healthier and calmer. Fortunately, the majority of cruising grounds are in warm, cobalt blue waters where sunshine also plays a major factor – the fresh ocean air and vitamin D being a great tonic for both the mind and body. So, whether you are looking to relax and rejuvenate mind and body, or looking for some creative inspiration, a superyacht charter could be just what the doctor ordered.