You’ve felt it – that dramatic change in mood as your feet sink into the warm soft Hatteras Island sands. Surrounded by the meditative sounds of the crashing waves, you look out across the expanse of beach, out over the ocean to the horizon, breathe deep and you just start to feel better. It turns out there is science to back it up. In a recent scientific study by two New Zealand universities and Michigan State University, they found that exposure to “blue space” (in the study they used ocean) boosts mental health.
The study tested the correlation between blue space visibility and psychological distress and found that a higher visibility of blue space was significantly associated with lower distress in participants.
Natural environments attract us on an evolutionary level because of the basic survival resources found in them. According to the study, “As a result of this evolutionary connection, the human brain processes natural environments more efficiently than built up environments, thereby further increasing opportunity for relaxation and combating the amount of stress”.
Of course, we are not scientists. But if someone is going to tell us that being near the ocean supports good health, well then count us in!!
Here are a few other health benefits your Hatteras Island vacation may afford you:
Lower blood pressure
A 2008 study by Seattle University compared the effects of listening to guided relaxation over ocean waves to the sound of a Mozart symphony on patient’s blood pressure. They found that while both lowered hypertension, the relaxation waves group showed a drop in systolic blood pressure by about three points and diastolic pressure by 1.5 points compared with Mozart’s music.
Air circulating at the beach is said to contain tens of thousands of negative ions, while the average home or office building, contains dozens or hundreds if any at all. According to WebMD, “Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.” The market has been flooded with the air purifiers and ionizers in recent years, whether they work or not is certainly up for debate, but one thing we do know is where negative ions naturally occur in the environment — the beach! Ion researcher Michael Terman PhD, of Columbia University in New York explained, “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods.”
Have you ever recalled the sound of ocean waves to get to sleep at night? A study at Huntsville hospital in Alabama looked at the effects of ocean sounds on sleep after a major surgery. They found that the participants receiving ocean sounds reported significantly higher scores for sleep depth, awakening, return to sleep, quality of sleep, and total sleep scores, indicating better sleep.
Have we given you enough reason to book that second week on Hatteras Island yet? Do it for your health.