Spending time at the beach can have mind blowing benefits.
It was only after a recent visit to the beach did it dawn on me why people like spending time at the beach.
Over the Easter break a friend invited me to visit him at his new digs and to cycle to the beachfront. It was such a relaxing experience especially after a couple of months of intense work pressure with a heavy workload and tight deadlines. Spending time at the beach was literally a breath of fresh air.
So why do people spend time at the beach?
No doubt the biggest answer would be that being amongst the elements of fresh air, wind, sand and water it helps to blow and wash away our thoughts.
Spending time at the beach no matter what activity connects us to nature and the physicality of our bodies and takes us out of our minds.
If you think about it, spending time at the beach is one of the best mindfulness tools available to us. What is even more mind blowing is that we often don’t have to focus ourselves to be more mindful at the beach, the beach engages our senses in a way that it happens automatically.
9 Mind Blowing Benefits of the Beach
OK, so let’s not waste time – let’s get into it, here are the 9 mind blowing benefits of spending time at the beach:
1. Connects You To Your Physicality
Whether you are walking along the beach, swimming, surfing or engaging in any other water-based activity it involves movement and engaging our bodies with the elements. We are sensual beings but it is easy to forget this when we are sitting in front of a computer at our desk for hours at a time day in day out. The beach reminds us that we are bodies with a mind not minds with a body.
Spending time at the beach is a full body sensory experience. The sparkling play of light on the water. The crunch of sand under foot. The smell of salt in the air and the saltiness of the water on our tongues. The cool ocean breeze that we breathe. The sun gently warming our skin. The refreshing chill as we tentatively enter the water. The swirl and movement of the surf as we immerse ourselves in the ocean. All our senses are engaged and our bodies are lost in a wonderland of sensual delight.
2. Helps You To Lose Your Mind
At the beach it is so easy to literally lose your mind. It happens. Because we can be so ‘in’ to our bodies, our worries and concerns can melt away. The beach engages our physicality to such a degree that we just find ourselves just freeing ourselves from thought.
Combine this with the physicality of nature – the wind, fresh air, moving water – and our mind is literally blown away to make space and time for our full-blown sensual experience with nature. Mindfulness is about being present and aware of each moment and being ‘into’ what we are currently doing – spending time at the beach makes it easy to be mindful.
3. Connects You To Your Inner Wild
It is so heartening to see the effects of spending time at the beach has on adults not to mention children. After all, aren’t adults simply children in big bodies?
Walking along the beach you can see adults building sand castles with their children.
Burying themselves in the sand. In fact, I had a bit of a chuckle seeing a 20 something under a layer of sand with only her head visible and her boyfriend lighting a cigarette and putting it to her lips to smoke as her arms were buried in sand.
You will see others looking for sand worms and other bait for fishing, or pippies and other shellfish for a tasty treat. The beach connects us to our child-like curiosity as we search for that perfect seashell or that beautiful pebble polished smooth by the endless action of the waves.
You will see others that brings out their inner wild as they brave the waves and body surf. Catching a wave you see their body ignite into action as they ride the fluid wave and see how far it can take them.
4. Centres You Into The Present
All this activity whether walking, surfing or swimming centres you back into your physical body and into the present. Often when we feel ‘stuck’ in our thoughts it is a great idea to shift that mental energy so sheer physical movement. In fact, activities that really get the blood pumping have a way of blasting away not only toxins in our body but also toxic thoughts in our mind.
We can only ever be happy in the present moment, and spending time at the beach can help centre us in the here and now and experience greater awareness and joy right now.
5. Gets You High
In fact, you could argue that spending time at the beach can get you high. We all know that physical exercise releases the happy hormones into our blood stream and leaves us feeling calm and relaxed. To some, exercise becomes addictive, due to the release and increase of endorphins which gives us a sense of euphoria. It also enhances our immune system, helping to combat the negative effects of stress.
6. Stress Reliever
After a day at the beach when you’ve come home and had a shower and washed your hair there is a certain glow we feel. We often feel a little drowsy as a body has kicked into a deep mode of relaxation. I remember as a child after a big day at the beach, being in the sun, swimming and building sand castles that it wouldn’t be long before it was time to go to sleep.
There are so many reasons why the beach can release stress and we have mentioned many of them above. The fact that the beach engages physically as the beach is a constantly moving environment – the waves, the wind, shifting sand and levels of sunlight – sees us constantly moving and adjusting instead of standing still. This constant movement we often call exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever. The beach literally helps you to ‘let off’ steam, that energy and negativity inside that could easily be kept pent up and released at a not so opportune future moment and possibly on a not so fortunate person. The beach can help you to lose your attitude and regain inner balance.
So is nature. The constantly moving effects of the ocean creates negative ions – these can relax us and at the same time energise our bodies. Negative ions can have a positive effect on our health.
7. Connects You To Nature
Just like exercise can be addictive to some, so too can be spending time in nature. For those who live along the coast, having this regular connection becomes easy and accessible. Many plug into nature regularly not only for the health-giving benefits of exercise and the energising effects of negative ions, but also from a spiritual perspective. Being amongst the elements of nature we can feel its power and strength and our connection to the Earth.
A great time to go to the beach is when there is a big storm. Living on the Gold Coast we are particularly lucky as there are ample opportunities to experience cyclones and big storms. I’m not advocating putting yourself in harms way by going swimming or engaging in other risky activity. Instead, simply witnessing the power of the natural elements as the strong winds send waves thundering onto the beach. That power can be awe inspiring.
Surfers often talk about their special connection to the ocean, a sense of oneness with nature. They are able to read the patterns of waves and are able to move instinctively, over riding their thought patterns. It has been refereed to as a spiritual connection, and Hawaiian culture speaks of this connection. There is a sense of oneness that surfers talk about when they are out the back there with the elements waiting for the next dream ride.
8. Beach Vitamins
Spending time in the sunshine also has great health benefits. Sunshine, in moderation is essential for health. Sunbathing can have a relaxing therapeutic effect. The benefits of moderate sunshine are numerous and include:
• Sunlight lowers cholesterol converting high cholesterol in our blood to steroids.
• Builds our immune system
• Strengthens our bones by allowing our bodyto produce Vitamin D
• Can relieve depression especially in those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder of SAD.
• Builds the immune system.
There are many more benefits, those are just some.
9. Connects Us To Our Past and Others
For many, going to the beach is a social thing. A lot of us would remember when we were kids and being bundled up in the car and heading towards the beach. I remember as child memories of being in the back seat and as we approached Cronulla, climbing the last hill and the big blue sliver of ocean would take my breath away. We would then turn right and drive to what now is Cronulla Mall and head down to Gunnamatta Bay. This was part of the annual Christmas party organised by the company my father worked for. There would be running races, and ice cream and Christmas presents.
There were other times when family and friends would go to Bundeena in the Royal National Park over the Christmas break and have barbeque lunches, snorkel, swim, walk along the sandy spit, and enjoy each others company. Spending time at the beach was a great excuse to get together and connect with others.
The beauty about spending time at the beach is that not only can it make you happier and healthier, there are no expensive gym subscriptions, there are no entry fees, in fact you don’t need any money to enjoy the health and wellness benefits of the beach.