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Awareness

“What if time spent in or around water was as effective as (or more immediate than) an antidepressant? What if we could treat stress, addiction, autism, PTSD, and other ills with surfing or fishing? What if your doctor handed you a prescription for stress or ill health that read, “Take two waves, a beach walk, and some flowing river, and call me in the morning”?”
Blue Mind, W.J. Nichols

Today, it is increasingly hard to ignore the constant reminder of climate change, increasing pressure of performance, many expectations, and that it can be a time of isolation and often of loneliness. Do you at times feel overwhelmed by the daily things? It is more than human to do so and to feel so, but we figured out a way that might help you. A way that helped us for sure: water. 
 
When we are near the ocean, we feel a certain magic that we find hard to describe. A feeling that gives us a sense of peace and relaxation. It has helped us in difficult times and released our stress. The water, the sea and the ocean are places where we stop overthinking, where our brain is in complete rest. We want to share this feeling with the people around us, with the people that might be in need of water, as a place to let your brain relax and turn on your blue mind. Because, as we experience it, being around water can hugely improve mental well-being and personal health.
 
Blue mind is a meditative state that you fall in when near, in or under water. It is a state of peace, calmness, happiness and satisfaction with life. 

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“Not only can getting your Blue Mind on make your life better, it can make the lives of others better. You can’t hold back the water – but you can swim with the current.”
Blue Mind, W. J. Nichols

THE EFFECT WATER HAS ON OUR BRAINS 

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Simply being in the water can already create a feeling of relaxation and is able to decrease stress. Have you ever wondered why you are so relaxed after a day at the spa, a dive into the ocean, or even just taking a shower or a warm bath? 
 
“Being on, in, around, or near water can calm our overactive minds while it imbues our senses. It can help us to access the state of ‘flow’.” P202 Blue Mind. 
 
When our bodies are underwater, the blood begins to flood toward vital organs, resulting to keep the brain and heart oxygenated for longer and thus a longer survival time (DEEP, 2015, J.Nestor). Submerging only the face in water can activate these life-lengthening reflexes, that is why many people love to splash their faces in the morning, take showers and why we feel so relaxed after a bath. 
 
Water and other natural environments contain a high level of predictability – the water stays the same from moment to moment, a continuity – this causes relaxation for our brains. Think about the rhythm of the waves pulling back and forth and the flowing river stream. Beaches do not need crossroads and the ocean is free from traffic lights. Being on the beach and watching the waves can enlighten a feeling of relaxation for the brain. 

 

WATER AND HEALTH 

"Poor mental-health is one of the leading causes of disease burden in high-income countries. This may, at least in part, be a consequence of rapid urbanisation and a growing disconnection from the natural world."  M. White et al., 2021

Our connection to nature can however be a co-benefit to us and the wellbeing of the world. A positive relationship with nature can make us feel happier, give our lives more meaning and it can decrease anxiety and depression.
 
Now that you know that water has a positive effect on your brain, thus on your health, why not try to use the ocean as a source of happiness and a way to guide your stress?
 
Water has many calming elements. The colour blue is known to give a relaxing yet energizing effect that stimulates a positive emotional response. Why do you think that big companies use the colour blue in their designs? The sound of seawater collapsing against rocks, the changing tides of the beach and the flowing water in a river. The ocean can even feel like the ultimate hug to us. We believe it to be one of the most calming sounds. It is proven that visiting blue spaces - coasts, beaches, and waterways - on a regular basis can give you some major health benefits such as a reduction of stress, the stimulation for increased physical activity and even the feeling of a stronger community. 

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THE BENEFITS OF ACTIVATES NEAR IN OR UNDER WATER 

“… healing on the water actually comes from replacing the rush produced by addiction and other at-risk behaviours with the more natural dopamine “high” produced by surfing, white-water kayaking, sailing, or competitive paddleboard racing.”  Blue Mind, W. J. Nichols
 
When practising activities near, in, or under water there is the same release and stimulation of neurons. Practising sports like these can thus become a good substitute or a way to improve health and well-being. 

 

Protecting water

The oceans give us so much, not only is it a source of food, energy, oxygen and recreation, but most importantly it has a positive contribution to our health and well-being. We should not forget that we need healthy oceans for that too.

What are you giving back to the water world? A positive relationship goes both ways, it is about giving and taking. You get a lot from water, so it is more than normal to do something back for the water world. For instance, try to use less plastic, clean the beaches and think about the products you buy.
 
When having a positive relationship with nature, the way how you think about the protection of nature will change positively. Being in nature every day and engaging with it, will lead to a better nature connection, higher well-being and conservation behaviours. In the end, harming nature is like harming ourselves. We are in serious trouble without healthy lakes, rivers and oceans. 
 
“People protect what they love.” - J. Cousteau
 
Information is the first step in the process of taking action. People need to know first what water can do for them and how important healthy lakes, rivers and oceans are for our survival. When people understand and become aware of this, only then, can they start loving the blue spaces and thus protect them.
 
Even the United Nations recognised the importance of the wellbeing of aquatic life by acknowledging it in Sustainable Development Goal - 14 ‘Life below water’. They have produced many helpful resources and projects in relation to advancing SDG14. For more information about the SDG's, visit their website here
 
More tips about what kind of activities you can do to engage with nature? 
Visit the action page.

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