The ideal place to go when I’m stressed is the beach. I don’t know why, but after a walk along the coast (usually with Bailey), I always feel so much better. I think it’s a combination of the sound of the rolling waves, and the fact you can look out over such a huge expanse of water – no buildings and no roads in sight. Even on a stormy day, I love it.
It always has been, and probably always will be, my spot.
But there’s still so much we don’t know about the ocean. We don’t know every species that lives beneath the waves, and we certainly haven’t explored every part of it. Often the unknown can make us anxious, so it’s intriguing to me that so many people love the sea regardless of the fact we don’t know everything about it.
Personally, I think this sense of mystery goes some way to explaining why the sea is so appealing. When we’re gazing out over a beautiful beach, or ocean horizon, we tend not to think too much about what goes on under the surface–maybe this lack of knowledge helps detach ourselves from the things we know too well and the things that make us stressed? Maybe, it gives us the space we need.
Intrigued, I decided to do some research and ended up pulling together a list of things we probably didn’t know about the ocean, and why it has such a calming and peaceful influence on us (apologies if you did already know a lot of this…)
Things You Didn’t Realise about the Ocean
- Our affinity to water goes back years. Think about it – in Roman times, baths were an important part of cultural life, representing relaxation and sometimes, wealth. Water was valued. The same can be said in other cultures later down the line. Expanding on this, is the fact that water, as an element, often represents balance – which has connotations with peace, calm and happiness.
- Marketing research has proven that the majority of people associate the colour blue with calm, openness, depth and wisdom, which goes some way to explaining why large expanses of water, like rivers and oceans, makes us feel less stressed and often helps us reflect on problems in our lives
- Did you know the ocean has the greatest diversity of life on Earth? I had an inkling that might be the case but I didn’t know that about two-thirds of all marine life remains unidentified…
- The ocean is trying to help erase the damage we’ve done to the planet. The seas soak up vast quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and if it wasn’t for them, the CO2 levels in our atmosphere would be much higher, meaning the effects of climate change would be even more noticeable
- According to marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols, our brains are hardwired to react positively to water – the sight and sound of it appears simplified compared to the sound of voices or a busy life in the city, so just being close to water gives our brains a rest (information via Huffington Post)
- The rhythmic pulses of water can induce a meditative state which, I guess, is why the sound of waves rolling up onto the shore is often recorded and played in spas and massage clinics to help us unwind
- Exercising near the water is always so much better – scientifically. Exercising makes us feel happier anyway, relieving stress and releasing endorphins, but combine that with the calming presence of water, and you’ve got one hell of a mental boost
- The world’s longest mountain range is underwater. The Mid-Oceanic Ridge is 56,000 km long, runs through the Atlantic Ocean and into the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The world’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, is more than double the height of Mount Everest with more than half of that height situated underwater.
- There IS a hidden city! Off the coast of Cuba, researchers believe they have found an ancient American city that often gets spoken about in Mayan stories (but it’s not Atlantis)
- We have better maps of Mars than we do of the oceans – the way water warps makes it hard to use traditional imaging equipment, not to mention the pressure as you get deeper underwater!
So there you have it. The oceans are mysterious, vast, helpful, calming and filled with secrets… But whatever they are to you, they’re well worth respecting.