If you have had a couple of challenging mental health days, you know how hard they can be to shake. Seasonal depression, depression, and anxiety can be some of the hardest things to deal with. But one of the big topics in mental health right now, which research is uncovering more and more, is blue health.
What is blue health?
Studies are being done into the link between feeling good and blue spaces. It is not just blue spaces but the sea, lakes, and anywhere that has water; reports have found that people who live closer to these so-called blue spaces are likely to have a lower level of stress and a higher sense of well-being.
Although more studies need to be done, the evidence shows that swimming, walking by the water, heading out on a boat, and anything else to do with water is excellent for people trying to improve their mental health.
In short, here are some of the benefits:
- Blue is associated with being calm and relaxation
- Salty sea air has negative ions, which are believed to reduce depression
- The sound of water is naturally relaxing
So what water-based activities can improve mental health?
Studies show that when we are immersed in water, the pressure is excellent for our joints and can mean that people who usually can’t do much exercise can manage. Alone this is an amazing boost in mental health.
However, it’s more than just that. Swimming increases the supply of nutrients, glucose, and oxygen to the rest of our bodies – which leaves us feeling great.
Swimming for just thirty minutes has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression as well as improve sleeping patterns.
Imagine climbing down the side of your chartered boat from www.borrowaboat.com, into the warm waters of the British Virgin Islands on vacation, and scuba diving in stunning reefs surrounded by colorful and peaceful fish.
Scuba diving has a long track record of positively impacting mental health, and part of the reason is that it encourages mindfulness. The state of being aware of your surroundings and being careful not to disturb fish and other animals in the sea is essential.
One of the most important things you need to do when scuba diving is learning to control your breathing – which is another thing that leads to being peaceful and mindful as you swim.
Surfing can be an intense sport, and what that means is as well as getting the perks of all the blue in the form of the ocean, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the perks of being active.
Doctors have even prescribed surfing to help combat PTSD, improve sleeping and help reduce stress levels. The rhythm of the waves and the wave-riding activities help to stabilize your emotions.
Like many other watersports, surfing clubs can be welcoming to new people, and that can help improve mental health even further through being social.
Kayaking has been shown to release plenty of those feel-good hormones that we need to help combat the impact of depression and anxiety. Once people get over the initial balance and find their flow in paddling, kayaking is incredible.
Kayaking is one of the water sports that can improve focus since you will be focused on getting from your starting point to your endpoint. Although over time, the motion of the paddling will become second nature.
On the surface, paddleboarding can look pretty boring, but it takes a lot of core strength to stand up for so long and keep balance. Stand-up paddleboarding can feel like you are literally standing on water and can help reduce the likelihood of sleep problems or panic attacks.
Unlike some other water-based sports, stand-up paddleboarding is easy to learn and what that means is it is more accessible to people who don’t want to or don’t have time to do it all the time. Instead, it can be done on a non-regularly weekly or monthly basis.
It is the combination of repeating the movement that helps people to get into a zen state – however, the fresh aid and the gentle waves play a big part too.
Studies show that some sports increase your cortisol levels due to how fast-paced they are, and just 30 minutes of SUP has been shown to decrease cortisol levels. Since you are so focused on your paddle boarding and staying upright and moving, you will find that you aren’t thinking about much else.
Something that is incredible about sailing is that it is linked to confidence – and self-confidence is linked to having better mental health. Something about being out on the ocean is that you automatically put your phone away and just watch the waves instead.
You can be the one who is sailing, or you can be enjoying a boat you have chartered as a skipper – either way, you’ll enjoy the benefits that sailing can offer.
Depending on the type of sailing you do, it has been linked to strong teamwork, communication, leadership, and more.
Almost all water sports will help people to have an improved mood, better health, and better sleep. The combination of being in and around the blueness of the water, in some cases the pressure of the water, and others floating on top of it all lead to a more positive mental health outlook.