Squishing warm sand between toes and cooling off in body of fresh salty water are simple, yet satisfying actions that signify the start of summer. New bikinis, warm tans, and spending time with friends are all associated with good times at the beach, but there are more, less obvious reasons why an afternoon at the island can make people so happy.
While the ocean is complex in composition and behavior, from the perspective of someone standing on shore, it is simply a giant mass of blue. This color is commonly associated with feelings of calmness, tranquility and depth, so it plays a role in creating that peaceful, fuzzy feeling we all get when walking along a beach.
Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist interviewed by The Huffington Post, explained why the ocean can make us relax and help our bodies and minds enter a calmer state.
“When you stand at the edge of water and look out on the horizon, it’s visually simplified relative to the room you’re standing in right now, or a city you’re walking through, where you’re taking in millions of pieces of information every second,” he said.
Having fewer distractions around us means less information to process, giving our brains a chance to relax and unwind. Being surrounded by palm trees and sand instead of schoolwork and laptop screens doesn’t hurt either.
In addition, research has shown that people who engage in calming and relaxing activities, such as walking or swimming at the beach, are less likely to experience anxiety and depression and more likely to experience happiness, improved focus, and get better sleep.
Whether you’re there to take in the simplicity of nature, read a book on the sand, or have fun with friends, the beach is a location we can all count on to make us smile, de-stress, and take a break from our daily routines in life.
What do you love about going to the beach? Let me know in the comments below!