You’ve had a disappointing day, the world is against you, so you head to the beach and then your toes hit the water. It’s only then that and you know everything is going to be okay. As you wade in further, your lungs instinctively react and breathe in all the fresh sea air. The water hugs you tight and your body relaxes, blood pressure drops and serotonin is released into your brain. In these few seconds, all problems are forgotten, you are in the moment, at one with the ocean and this feeling stays with you throughout the rest of the day.
The uplifting feelings we get from the ocean are all benefits of Blue Space. You may have heard about the importance of Green Space and how people living in cities rely on their parks and suburban green areas to build their mental wellbeing. Being around green areas helps with psychological restoration by acting as a respite for our over stimulated minds. Blue Space acts in the same way and in today’s society, we are beginning to understand more about the ocean and its importance in our daily lives.
It has been found that people living close to bodies of water have lower stress levels. This could be due to the biochemical reactions that happen on the surface of the ocean. Salt water contains negative ions which are invisible molecules and also the secret to our happiness. Negative ions are formed when molecules on the water surface have been broken apart by sunlight, air and water. These ions, when inhaled, increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and increase serotonin levels – both of which help to combat stress, increase mental energy and improve alertness – so you feel more energised and less stressed after a dip.
Salt water also contains magnesium which is important in wellness practises as it promotes sleep and improves creativity. This combination can have a huge effect on the way you live your life and react to life’s stressors. One study has even shown that living within sight of the beach offers many of these positive benefits without actually having to venture into the ocean.
And blue space doesn’t just help humans thrive, it could also be the answer to saving the climate. Our planet is fighting an uphill battle (sea level rise, ocean warming and ocean acidification to name a few), but our oceans can help protect us. They provide a source of clean renewable energy and food to help us combat climate change.
For example, offshore wind and waves provide renewable opportunities. This raw energy could decarbonise electricity grids across the world. As seen in the UK in April 2020, the grid was run by renewables in the longest coal-free period on record.
With a huge part of the climate problem relating to excess greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, the ocean is a saviour in this perspective as it also sequesters carbon. Wetlands, kelp beds, mangroves seagrass and coral all capture carbon through photosynthesis! This blue carbon drawdown should not be overlooked and should be better protected.
Finally, sea vegetables like seaweed have been found to filter run off and improve water quality, but it also helps reduce greenhouse gases as when fed to cows it reduces their methane emissions by 67%.
All in all, blue space is healing for humanity and our planet. We need to protect our life source both now and into the future. Travel With A Paddle aims to protect our one ocean and use it as sacred space for learning and relaxation with all the added benefits that come with spending time on the water.