Today I’m going to share some wonderful ways your senses go to work for you while you’re at the beach. I know the countdown to the end of summer has begun. But I don’t want that to stop you from heading to the water. Plenty of warm days are left.
The beach has special things going for it, and hopefully, you may find a way to get to one.
For those of you who can’t, you can still reap some positive benefits by looking at a picture of water, gazing at a fish tank or taking a bath. All of these actions can provide a mild calming effect.
You may want to read Blue Mind, which I read three years ago and greatly enjoyed. The author, Wallace J. Nichols, is a marine biologist and entrepreneurial scientist. The book explains our attraction to the water and how being in, on, near or under water can make you happier, healthier, and better at what you do.
The sight of sand, an endless sea and an unmoving horizon line provides a soothing peacefulness unlike our usual daily environment, where we’re visually processing quite a number of things at any given time. Gazing at the water is a powerful way to de-stress and take a break from our overstimulated lives.
And studies have shown that sunlight can affect a person’s mood, which is why you probably feel so happy when you’re at the beach. Increased serotonin levels, can positively affect your sleep, stress and even your appetite!
Your Vitamin D levels get a boost from sunshine, which can be beneficial for certain types of cancer, for its antiaging effects and for its ability to help you absorb calcium and protect against osteoporosis.
If you love the sound of waves breaking on the shore at regular intervals you’re not alone. The gentle “slapping” sound or “whooshing” noise is hypnotic, lulling you into a peaceful state of mind. This calming sound can help you sleep better and help you to meditate and relax.
But what about the kids screaming and laughing, the murmur from the folks on a nearby blanket, or what about those seagulls cawing above you as they swoop around looking for food?
They’re all part of beach life. Close your eyes and imagine a deserted beach in the height of summer. You might enjoy it for a while, but we’re social creatures, and the senses of sight and sound are deeply interwoven, especially in regard to movement.
And when you settle down on your towel, doesn’t it seem like all the annoying sounds and distractions disappear and within moments, you’re fast asleep? Any disrupting noise just fades into the background.
I love the smell of fresh sea air. Don’t you?
Sea air contains negative hydrogen ions (oxygen atoms). These negative hydrogen ions neutralize free radicals that damage cells and contribute to cancer and the degenerative aging process.
Water generates these negative ions, and when water tension breaks up air molecules (when waves pound the shore, for example) the negative ions are sprayed into the air in abundance. The negative and positive ions attach together in the air, and the electrical charge is neutralized.
In high concentrations such as at the beach, these ions can lift your mood and may even help with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). They also help to purify the air. And one other thing, sea water is abundant with vital elements such as salt, vitamins and trace elements that are dispersed by the wind and air.
To me, food just tastes better by the water. Looking at the food on the picnic table stirs up recollections of previous beach trips such as barbecuing burgers and chicken, snacking on bags of chips, eating potato salad, licking popsicles, getting juice all over my hands from eating a peach or a slice of watermelon. You probably have similar memories. And these fond beach memories only serve to enhance your meal.
And what about the seafood restaurants or shacks nearby? The availability of seafood is good because of the omega-3 fatty acids found in it. This nutrient is beneficial in so many ways. Omega-3’s can help with heart disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, depression, inflammation and more. (Of course, you don’t have to be by the seaside in order to eat seafood.)
Much of what we think of as taste is actually smell. And the process of tasting is what registers the “flavor.” In fact, tasting, smelling and touching (when food or drink is placed in the mouth, for example) all converge to create a flavor sensation.
As soon as I hit the beach, I kick off my flip-flops so I can wriggle my feet in the sand. Maybe you do, too. Walking along the sand is a great way to ground your physical body. Grounding (also called Earthing) occurs when we connect with bare feet to the earth’s natural surface.
As humans, our bodies function electrically, controlling everything we do. Think of your heart and nervous system, for example. The theory is that the build-up of positive electrons (free radicals) in our bodies can be neutralized by the negatively-charged electrons that come into our bodies once we make direct contact with the Earth’s natural surface like wet sand, grass or dirt.
Grounding is said to help reduce inflammation and pain, protect against cardiovascular disease, improve sleep and balance the nervous system among other things.
It’s a controversial subject. But one truth is this: grounding is essentially living more naturally and returning our body to its natural electrical state. Give Earthing a try yourself, and see if you discover any benefits.
Wherever you are as this summer draws to a close, use your senses to derive meaning and pleasure (and even some possible health benefits) from your experiences.
Please comment below, and let us know your end-of-summer plans and how you might use your senses to improve your experience. We’d love to hear from you.