As I write this, I’m sitting on the beach by the Atlantic ocean, soothing my senses. I’m literally inhaling calm and exhaling the past 10 weeks of tension, trauma, and fear. Did you know that the way we breathe impacts our overall wellbeing? As a Positive Psychology thought leader, I’ve led many workshops teaching people to engage all of their senses to enhance their physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Even so, (confession time), figuring out how to breathe fully and deeply has been a personal struggle for me that’s taken decades to learn. Now that I finally have learned how to engage with my breath, it’s important for me to REMEMBER to use this skill. This is called praxis: Taking what we’ve learned and applying it in practice to everyday life. We can learn how to do all the mindfulness techniques in the world, but unless we actually are using them, how are they truly serving us?
The sea is a reminder to engage with each breath—in and out just like the waves on the shoreline. And the ocean air is filled with negative ions which balance serotonin levels that can help us feel calmer, happier, and more at ease. That’s one of the reasons that the ocean is my happy place. Here are several more lessons that we can learn from the ocean and how being near the sea benefits our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing:
Healing, awe-inspiring impact of seeing nature and being surrounded by its beauty
Staring at the medley of blue and turquoise water is changing my brain frequency. I feel myself gently relaxing into a mind-meditative state—a significantly different frequency from my default New York City state of mind. Basking my body in the warmth of the Sun boosts immunity and produces vitamin D. And with a healthy slathering of sunblock, it just feels restorative and yummy.
Taking the plunge
I believe I was a dolphin in a prior life because I love being in water. Throughout the year, this means an early morning swim six days a week and frequent warm baths at night. However, the salty ocean water is alkaline and rich in minerals including potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. This powerpack of minerals can help reduce inflammation and the soothing rhythm of the waves is just like a bonus massage thrown in for good measure.
Connection to something larger than myself
I have so many happy childhood memories of family excursions to the Jersey shore where, for $10 a day, my parents could park the car and we’d get to use an outdoor shower and a wooden cabana (fancy name for an enclosed space the size of a small closet) where we could change out of our wet and sandy bathing suits before making the three-hour drive back to our home in northern New Jersey. To this day, whenever I go into the ocean, I can feel my eight-year-old self happily bobbing on a raft next to my six-year-old brother. We’d spend hours floating on the waves, building sandcastles, and being together. Whatever your happy place, you can always “time travel” by going there in your memory. Recent scientific studies show that looking at photos and videos of nature can improve your health and happiness. And people who go outside or just look outside into the natural world have measurably lower levels of stress than people who do not engage in this practice. Reminiscing is a quick and easy way to activate positive emotions. Looking at photos, videos, or reliving positive memories of good times will elevate your mood and connect you with something larger than yourself as you engage with nature.
Here’s a little video sharing my happy place with you.
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the Power to Heal.
All the best,