‘Water on the brain’
For many of us, we are naturally drawn to the water’s edge. But why? Is it just pleasant memories from childhood happy holidays? Is it the tranquillity of its natural surroundings? Or is there more to it? It turns out there is a science behind this attraction, and it’s called the Blue Mind effect.
Dedicating over two decades of his life to researching and raising awareness, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is the founder of the Blue Mind theory.
J. Nichols explains there is chemistry behind Blue Mind. It’s a biological reaction. It triggers a response. And it’s deeply personal.
Blue Mind: A mildly meditative state characterised by calm, peace, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water , from the colour blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion.Dr. Wallace J. Nichols
Mentally and physically, you can wash away the stress. It offers calmness. A focus. It can literally suck the stress out of your body and out of your mind, as J. Nichols describes.
The Colour Blue
The brain prefers the colour blue over all other colours. It’s the world’s favourite choice, and many professionals are still not seeing the benefit of this. Japanese government and developers use blue lights in train stations to help reduce the suicide risk. Gatwick train station in the UK has also followed with blue lighting along platforms – both saw decreased suicide attempts. But we are still far from blue being used to its full potential.
There is so much awareness about green spaces being good for you and your mental health. Take blue spaces into these natural surroundings, and you take the benefits up a level. Recent studies by the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK have shown that whilst green spaces are welcomed, add blue into these green spaces, and they are a much-preferred option for spending time in. Environmental Psychologist Mathew White of the University of Exeter also highlights that urban scenes with water, such as fountains and canals running through the city, are preferred over those without these features. Even employees within the workplace will often vote to have water aesthetics and wall art in the office to enhance their occupational wellness.
My personal journey into Blue Mind
From the moment of my cancer diagnosis, I knew being surrounded by or on the water would be a significant reason behind my survival. It was instinctive. That same day I immersed myself in the natural salty water of the ocean, submerging the diseased part of me, begging to be healed as my tears rolled into the waves.
It wasn’t about finding happiness though. I was a world away from that. It was about finding my inner strength to cope, finding the calmness I needed to focus, taking in what was happening and clearing my head to make such important decisions. I needed an anchor to hold me still whilst I prioritised my health. That anchor was the water.
Stepping away from the tense conversations, hospital appointments, the flashing up of medical records on my phone, and the daily grind that things still needed to be done, the tranquillity of the water led me into that mild meditative Blue Mind state. It gave me a sense of perspective on life and helped minimise some of the anxiety and worry.
As I continue this journey, water and its wellness have become a lifestyle. A Water Wellness lifestyle. A Blue Wave Wellbeing approach. The calmness and focus it gives allow me to still put my health first, followed by decisions I now want to make, instead of needing to make. Learning about that natural water instinct on that day of diagnosis has been incredible. Inspiring. Liberating. It has been a positive move toward my intellectual wellness and a path I may not have set on if it wasn’t for my fate.
And so, from there, my life mission was born – to help others discover the benefits of Blue Mind and Blue Wave Wellbeing.
Practice Blue Mind for Life
Whilst natural waters are the optimal environment for Blue Mind, there are so many alternatives to allow this relaxed state. Take a bath. Look at happy photo memories of a beach holiday. A desk water fountain. An aquarium. A waterfall. Relax in a float tank. Visit a splash park. Go fishing. Even drinking water – so good for us in many ways.
As Ocean advocate, Jean-Michel Cousteau believes, “When we protect our waters, we protect ourselves”. Blue Spaces are not only wonderfully beautiful and a vital food source; they are significant to our health. As long as we continue to protect and maintain our healthy oceans, lakes and bodies of water, they will do the same for us, with the health benefits they bring everyone. And ultimately one of the fundamental reasons behind Blue Mind.