Science Reveals How A Trip To The Beach Actually Changes Your Brain

Photo: David Prado Perucha / Shutterstock
woman on the beach

The ocean. A lake. A babbling creek. A stream. Even a waterpark. Each body of water conjures a feeling inside of us even as we read the words.

You don't have to be an outdoor girl to acknowledge that spending time at the beach by the water can leave you feeling rested, recharged, soothed, and restored. Who doesn't love to go for a swim? Or just simply lying in the sand?

I'm a total water baby. Not only am I a Cancer, but I've always lived right on the water. The farther away from it I am, the more stressed out and unhappy I feel.

It turns out that I'm not a secret mermaid (boo). I'm just a human being having a very natural and scientific reaction to what researchers call blue space.

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So what exactly happens when we spend time by the water?

Our minds are sent into a restful almost hypnotic space thanks to the soothing smells and sounds of the water. Scientists are sure that as they continue to study blue space that spending time in one can't help but boost your mental health.

Here's how the beach benefits your brain.

1. Going to the beach reduces depression.

Did you know that the sound of ocean waves crashing can put people in a true meditative state? The sound of the waves can calm you down, and being in that state, in turn, is linked to increased mental clarity and reduced depression.

Even so, one study found that just staring at the ocean changes our brain wave frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.

2. The beach makes you more creative.

Being in a blue space can also bolster your creativity. You get all that fresh air and open sea and no noisy city or annoying kids for miles.

Because your brain is relaxed, you are more likely to drift and imagine than you are on a day-to-day basis. One study even connected the color blue to an increase in creativity.

3. Going to the beach de-stresses you.

Taking a dip into the ocean helps because the water is full of naturally occurring negative ions.

Some scientists believe that the positive ions given off by appliances every day leave us feeling angry, cranky, and overworked. Naturally occurring negative ions in the ocean water counteract all of this.

This calming effect means going to the beach will lower your stress levels.

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4. The beach changes your perspective on the world.

Plus, it doesn't hurt to be reminded that there are things bigger on this planet than us, our commutes, or a traffic jam. Being in the presence of nature is soothing.

5. The beach boosts your mood.

Consider the beach your vitamin D shot for the day. Studies have shown that the more sunlight you soak up, the lighter your mood is. So laying out in the sun is actually boosting your mood and taking care of your mental health.

Vitamin D can also boost your immune system with its positive effects.

6. Going to the beach provides a change of scenery.

Being in the same place day after day can accumulate stress. Getting a change of scenery, especially one so soothing, is great for your brain. It allows your mind to recharge and be alert to a new environment.

Bonus: the warm sand will help get rid of dead skin cells as you're walking barefoot.

Well, this must mean that it is only a matter of time before doctors will be prescribing beach time alongside antidepressants. I love my antidepressants, but I feel like there would be much less of a stigma around an activity that involves dolphins and bikinis.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.