Science Says That You Need a Beach Holiday
If you’re having an internal battle with yourself about whether you can really justify booking that beach holiday, I’ve got excellent news.
Excellent news for the side of you that loves to travel, but maybe not so excellent for your bank balance.
There’s been a lot of research over the years into just why we feel so zen at the beach, and looking into whether we genuinely benefit from being beside the sea.
It turns out that it’s been scientifically proved that spending time by the water can boost our well-being. So, if you’ve had your eye on that Airbnb with a sea view, this might convince you to finally go ahead and book.
You know that feeling of peace you get when you’re gazing out into the wide blue yonder?
One specific study I came across recently studied people who are lucky enough to live in Wellington in New Zealand, which has a beautiful natural harbor.
It found that people who accessed ‘blue space’, or lived somewhere with an ocean view, experienced far fewer mental health issues than the general population of New Zealand, independent of factors like age, sex and finances.
Amber Pearson, one of the authors of the study, explained that our brains find it easy to process natural scenery, and when looking out at the ocean our senses are less stimulated, and our brains finally have the chance to relax. Modern life is a daily assault on the senses, but regularly fixing our gaze on a blue horizon seems to help combat that.
It’s true, though, that they didn’t take into account how long people had been living in a spot with an ocean view.
So, there’s no hard data on whether or not a week in a hotel with a sea view, or even spending a day by the ocean, has immediate benefits, but it hasn’t been ruled out, either. That’s good enough for me.
Whilst some studies have suggested that green spaces can also be beneficial, this study found that a view of a park didn’t make all that much difference to people’s lives.
It might have something to do with the color blue itself. As any marketer knows, the color blue is commonly used to convey a sense of calm, and blue is often recommended as a great color for a room if your goal is to reduce stress.
The crashing of the waves
It’s not just looking at the ocean which can calm you, although the rhythmic motion of the waves is thought by some to be a big contributor to why the ocean makes us feel the way it does.
Some studies have looked at the relaxing effect of listening to waves crash on the shore. It’s a calming, non-threatening sound, and can be a great background noise to send us into a partly, or even fully meditative state.
An ocean breeze
Continuing our journey through the senses, it seems like the air we breathe at the beach might have a positive effect on us, too.
It turns out that there are negative ions in ocean air. Those are oxygen ions with an extra electron hitched onto them, created by contact between air and water.
People have been shown to respond to the presence of negative ions in the air, experiencing a calming, and even an anti-depressant effect, especially in the case of those who suffer from seasonal affected disorder (SAD).
Kicking off your shoes
I wouldn’t mind betting that you probably spend relatively little time barefoot outside, except when you’re at the beach. To avoid getting sand in our shoes and to enjoy the sensation of the sand between our toes, most of us go barefoot on the beach.
Getting in direct contact with the earth is known as earthing or grounding, and the idea is that our feet absorb the electrons that are in the earth’s surface. All kinds of studies have looked at the benefits of this, which has been suggested to contribute to wellness and maintaining good mental health.
Ever feel warm, tingly sensations when you walk barefoot on earth, grass or sand? That could be the effect of grounding, and your body tapping into the energy in the earth.
Whether you believe in the concept of grounding or not, you can’t deny that walking barefoot on the beach feels fantastic, and is a great way both to work out your foot muscles and exfoliate all that dead skin whilst you’re at it.
Convinced? Book yourself a beach holiday and, when you’re there, take a moment to really drink in the view and fully experience all of the sensations.
Make beach memories that will keep your stress levels low long after you’ve washed the sand off your feet.