Met anyone who hates the beach?
Neither have I, despite my efforts that discern or living in the mountains. Right now let’s close our eyes and listen…hear that?.. the crash and hiss of waves, the cry of gulls. Smell the salted air? Feel that inner ahhhh, a primordial sigh, a deep release. Turns out, recent research reveals not only why we enjoy the seaside, but also how our brains are actually enhanced by it.
Ocean waves generate negative ions.
You probably knew that, but did you also know that when we breath from surroundings rich in negative ions, we accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen? Negative ions also balance our levels of serotonin. Which is why the stress you felt driving the Parkway to get to the beach, evaporates once you’re there. You’re sense of well being naturally lifts.
A beach location activates your brain’s prefrontal cortex.
Why is that useful? Your prefrontal cortex helps you apply good judgement and control impulses. A strong, healthy prefrontal cortex helps you finish school, develop and nurture a career, or a family, stick to a diet, be disciplined, and even enjoy financial success. You can keep your mind on what you set your mind to do.
While at the beach, your cortisol levels are lowered.
High cortisol levels, stress induced, can lead to ulcers and heart disease. How are they lowered? Remarkably, audio input is the key trigger. Shelley Batts, Ph.D. at Stanford, discovered that relaxing patterns of sound are predictable, middle to low pitch, and rhythmic. Soft in volume and harmonic frequencies at regular intervals, waves may trigger memories of relaxation akin to the womb. The sound of waves organically decreases the release of cortisol.
And finally, taking in the view of a flat ocean surface is innately calming.
Professor emeritus of neuroscience from UC San Francisco, Michael Merzenich informs us that not only do we capture sight of limitless water, essential to our survival, but also the absence of predators. We’ve evolved to be alert to threats in natural and urban environs.The vast scan of open water affords assurance we are safe.
Can’t get to the water’s edge? Unwind with headphones dialed to ocean waves. Feel a sweet inner chill while you destress and feed your beautiful brain.