Have you ever felt at peace when you’re walking by the ocean? A sense of rejuvenation when you stand by a waterfall? How about taking in the view of a breathtaking lake from your window? Scientists say these activities have a positive effect on our brains. So what exactly is happening to our brains when we surround ourselves with water?
Well, the calming effect — often referred to as blue space — is a vacation for our brains from overstimulation. Looking at water and listening to its sound puts our overloaded minds into a relaxed and hypnotic-like state with the benefit of this being a different way that our brain processes thoughts, leading to more calm and creative states and an increase our well-being. The sound of waves has been found to alter the brain’s wave patterns and invoking a meditative, relaxed state.
When we’re near water, our brains switch off from busy to relaxed mode. This naturally leads our brains to open up because it’s not focused on the millions of thoughts swirling around, and which can often lead to stress or anxiety. When your brain is in this relaxed state, it is open more to inspired and creative thoughts. In essence, we are switching our brains off or giving it a rest from the norm causing a better mental environment for insight and introspection.
Going for a swim in a lake or cycling along a river trail will give you more of a mental boost than working out in a crowded city or gym environment. The idea is that being surrounded by blue space triggers a more positive benefit to exercising, with the intake of negative ions into our systems increasing.
Positive ions are emitted by electrical appliances such as computers, microwaves and hairdryers — draining us of our natural energy — whereas negative ions are generated by waterfalls, oceans waves, and thunderstorms. The rich amount of negative ions in the atmosphere accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen, balance levels of seratonin (the chemical linked to mood and stress), and contributes towards rejuvenating the mind and improving alertness and concentration.
So if you’re looking to clear your head then search for some blue space – whether you’re lucky enough to visit the ocean or just sitting near your local fountain — water has a powerful influence on the brain and can help change your mental clarity, capacity, happiness, and well-being.