What is it about the sea that is good for our well-being, that captivates us, that seeps into souls and like a siren draws us into its arms? Perhaps it is because this beach environment is truly immersive. It caters to all of our senses. Perhaps it is because the beach is associated with holidays and rest – time away to relax from the hustle and bustle of city life. Perhaps it is because standing on the shore and looking out to sea is the place where dreams, ideas and longings are created?
For some, it is the beach and to feel the sand between their toes makes them feel happy. For others, it is the surf that calls and catching a great wave gives them a sense of achievement and purpose. Then there those who long for the freedom of the open sea and set sail to chase a distant horizon.
I recently asked myself a question: what is it that makes a visit to the beach so good for our well-being? I came up with 10. You may be able to add your ideas to my list and I would love to hear your views. Please comment down below.
However, before we go any further, let me be clear about the type of beach I have in mind that will benefit your well-being. Mine are wild, quiet and good to visit in any season. They do not, yet, include tropical beaches in faraway places. I have never experienced one, so I do not know whether the effect will be the same.
Now, we have that clarified, it is on with the list.
10 things that make the beach good for your well being
The sounds – the sea has a vast array of characteristics and each one can have a relaxing quality. Sitting on a beach listening to it gently lap the shore is probably the most idyllic, but there is also something mesmerising in the sound of crashing waves and even a full-blown storm, so long as you are in a safe place while you listen.
Breaking waves – from the gentle ones that nibble the edge of the shore, to the silence rolling sea and the raw, graceful power of white-tipped breakers, all types of waves seem to hold a mesmerising and meditative quality.
Barefoot walks – there is no other environment where walking barefoot is perfectly acceptable. I doubt we experience the same desire when entering a wood. Walking barefoot on a beach is good for our balance and excellent for ankles and calves. It also gives our feet some much-needed beauty therapy as the sand exfoliates our feet.
Sea air – Breathing salt air is great for the lungs while the negatively charged ions at the beach are refreshing and improve the mood. Did you know that the wind and sand are supposed to be good for completion?
Blue for well-being – Spending time in blue spaces has a positive effect on mental well being. There is some evidence this effect is even greater than green spaces like woodlands. A 2013 study measuring happiness in natural environments, found that marine and coastal environments came out tops by some margin.
Looking to the horizon – Staring at the horizon, is often associated with being a place where hopes and dreams are formulated. The act of looking to the horizon is often seen as a desire for seeking new adventures and setting out beyond what is known.
Stones and sand – The environment provides many opportunities for mindfulness and meditation. Sand slipping through fingers can be a focus for letting things go. While the smoothness of pebbles held in the hand can be a focus for many ideas and thoughts.
Seawater – The minerals and salt in seawater are good for our skin while swimming in the sea tones the body.
The smell – The evocative smell of the sea seems to have the ability to send a thrill coursing through your veins, moments before the coastline comes into view. That delicate assault on the nostrils seems to invoke the quiet release of pressure causing a smile to creep across the face. Knowing that the smell is caused by the sex pheromones produced by seaweed eggs to attract the sperm and that the ‘iodine’ smell of the sea, is the bromophenols produced by marine worms and algae. Does not alter the romantic illusion at all!
Taste – Spending time at the beach or on the sea is a gift that keeps on giving. Hours later it is still possible to taste the salt on your lips and invoke memories on the day you just spend. Finding a quality seafood restaurant and enjoying the bounty from its waters is a bonus.
A quick recommendation
I have tasted seafood on many occasions and always use one particular experience as a benchmark, the http://www.thecafefish.com/ Tobermory, Isle of Mull Scotland. I shared a seafood platter with my beloved and nothing since has come near to its quality. The Cafe Fish is currently closed for the 2020 season due to COVID. It is a small and intimate place and I sincerely hope it opens again next year. Visiting Scotland to experience this restaurant would be reason enough.
Picnics are one of my favourite things to do because they combine food and the outside. I also have to say my picnic basket is a thing of beauty. With pandemic life still with us, perhaps a picnic is one of the safest ways to enjoy eating out this year? So here, from my many years of experience, is my guide to a fabulous picnic.
Here are 6 simple mindful things you can do this summer. With lengthening days, there seems so much more time to spend outdoors and it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to take some intentional time and relax. Don’t you think?