Happiness Is As Close As The Water 

“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 to sail or watch it- we are going back from whence we came.”
― John F. Kennedy

ocean crashing wavesNothing is more deeply exhilarating than standing at the ocean’s edge, waves crashing against the shore, the scent of driftwood, seaweed, sand, and salt air igniting our nostrils as we scan the ocean’s vastness stretching out before us. How can a body of water conjure such deep emotions of peace and calm? No matter what state we arrive in, when we get to the ocean, we leave it changed and profoundly transformed.

There seems to be an intuitive sense in humans about the calming and beneficial effects of the ocean whether we are in it, on it, or at its edge. For many people, sailing is almost a spiritual experience and the ocean waves and movement along the surface of the ocean almost magically help us transcend ordinary states and exit stress in a remarkably quick way. Maintaining a negative mood at the ocean’s edge or sliding along the waves on a sailboat with the wind blessing your face is almost impossible. This euphoric and elemental response to the ocean lives within us all.

If you have any doubt about our natural abilities to know and understand the power of nature to heal and transform our bodies and minds for greater physical and emotional well-being, here’s a bit of science to aid in understanding what’s happening to your body and why you should follow your heart and your head to the water when in times of need.

The Sound of Waves

ocean waves

We all love to hear the sound of the waves and are easily lulled into a state of relaxation just from the rhythmic sounds. Research shows that the sound of waves actually alters our brain wave patterns.  Orfeu Buxton, a researcher at Penn State University, states that “These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people. It’s like they’re saying: ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry.”

As we listen to the waves, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated.  In case you want to know, we have two nervous systems, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which have opposite roles. The sympathetic nervous system is often referred to as the fight or flight response and carries signals that put your body’s systems on alert.

The parasympathetic carries signals that relax your systems. You feel so relaxed because the parasympathetic nervous system works to slow your heart and breathing rates, lowers blood pressure, and promotes digestion. When we enter our parasympathetic, our body enters a state of relaxation and rejuvenation.  Obviously, the more time we can spend in the parasympathetic nervous system the healthier we are.

Just staring out at the ocean can result in a relaxing, meditative state and the frequency of your brain waves change to match that of the ocean, putting you truly in touch with nature

Ocean Breeze Make Me Feel Fine

ocean breeze

Did you ever notice that when you spend a day boating or at the beach you seem to come home a bit happier and sleep more soundly? Well, again, researchers who want to know why tell us that sea air is charged with healthy negative ions. These negative ions accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen and balance the levels of serotonin, which is referred to as the “happiness hormone”. Serotonin is responsible for regulating our mood. When our serotonin is at normal levels, we feel more focused, emotionally stable, and happier.  Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression.

Brain imaging done on people who were near the ocean showed a connection to releasing dopamine and oxytocin, also feel-good hormones.  Now we know the biochemical reason why after a trip to the ocean or a sailing adventure, we feel more alert, relaxed, and energized. You know where to go when you need a lift!

Basking In The Glow Of The Sun

Sunlight is truly an essential life force and incorporating safe sun exposure into our lives provides a healthier, more balanced life. Balance is the key, and you never want to do to excess.  But sunshine has immense healing power and it’s right outside our door.

You know how good it feels when you feel the first rays of the sun. Well, that is because exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin which we talked about earlier – the happiness hormone which boosts your mood and promotes a sense of calm and focus.

If you want to maintain robust bone health and a strong immune system, get some sun! Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun initiate the production of Vitamin D, which is a crucial hormone for bone and immune health.

Seeking better sleep quality?  Our circadian rhythm – the internal biological clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles – is influenced by sunlight. In the morning, head out early and get some sunlight exposure (without sunglasses). This initial exposure to the morning sun helps your body reset your “sleep clock” which regulates the production of melatonin the hormone that controls sleep, which is produced in the pineal gland, from the chemical melanin. Get the connection?

So, get that morning sun and if you’re waking up on a boat or at the seaside, even better to insure restful nights and energetic days.

Rocking Even Helps Us Big People

Science can’t quite explain what happens in our body when we are rocked to sleep, but they do know that the gentle rocking movement of a boat can improve your night’s sleep, and even if taking an afternoon nap on board, you will spend more time in deep sleep, so you wake up more rested.

And add the sound of waves gently splashing against the hull; you are in an excellent state of calm, which in turn, helps reduce stress levels and soothes your mind.

The other interesting finding in studies on adults and being rocked to sleep is that it helps with memory consolidation. This is how a temporary, unstable memory is transformed into a more stable, long-lasting memory.

Let’s rock!

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

All research agrees that being by the ocean has mental health benefits as well as physical ones.  Scientific research shows that being near the color blue is intrinsically calming and associated with feelings of peace.

Interesting that as vast as the oceans are and how much blue we see above us in the sky, it is the rarest color in nature. Scientists continue to be fascinated by how blue is made because it is made with microscopic structures. The few animals and plants that appear as blue to us don’t contain the color. The blue organisms have developed some unique features that use the physics of light. Interesting. Enjoy the blue ocean and see if you can spot blue on your next walk in the woods.

Our advice is to get yourself to the ocean and on a boat and keep your mental health and physical well-being at high levels to combat the stress of normal life.

If you are interested in going out boating and don’t have a boat, charter one of our yachts with a skipper for an afternoon and Get Happy!