Another reason to visit the beach - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Another reason to visit the beach

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Mary Jo Rapini Mary Jo Rapini

Scientific research has suggested that being in nature improves well-being. Nature has the ability to trigger parts of the brain associated with empathy, positive emotion, and self-awareness, which are the building blocks of happiness. With further research they have identified that living near the water seems to intensify the sense of well-being more than other natural settings. Dr. Wallace Nichols, Ph.D., a marine biologist, says in his book, “Blue Mind,” that the neurochemicals which relay stress signals to the brain recalibrate in water to low levels similar to those delivered by medication, thus reducing stress and anxiety. He calls this the “Blue Mind Effect.”

Designers and architects have featured many water effects in health care institutions as well as places of high stress. Cancer centers for the most part always have a fountain or paintings of water to help calm and soothe patients. The majority of adults have memories of going to the lake or beach during family vacations, and it is impossible to get a massage anywhere without hearing or seeing water somewhere. We develop in water, and there is a “knowingness” within our bodies that promotes relaxation when we visualize, hear or see water.

Going to the beach to swim or walk is best. However, you don’t need to take a trip to the beach to benefit. Dr. Nichols, as well as other experts, offers suggestions that may help reduce your anxiety and increase your sense of well-being.

  1. Get a water app and watch it during coffee breaks and your lunch hour if there is no water feature within walking distance of you.
  2. Have a favorite photo of a favorite body of water on your screen saver.
  3. Be mindful of small bodies of water you are close to such as fountains, ponds, pools and streams. Spend at least ten minutes looking at them.
  4. Go online to a favorite travel sight and download photos of the water. This has been shown to calm people within minutes.
  5. If you’re stuck and you can’t go anywhere, take a bath. Your favorite bath bubbles will add to the comforting affects of the water.

Some of the most fantastic ways to calm anxiety and add a sense of well-being are the simplest. Pack a couple of towels, and celebrate the 4th near the water.   

– Mary Jo Rapini
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