Why water makes us feel better, according to science
Posted on Aug 25th, 2018
If you’re seeing red, feeling angry, anxious, and stressed, well, welcome to the postmodern experience. Don’t despair, however. Blue mind science—the study of aquatic environments’ health benefits—could offer the cure for your blues, for free, wherever you may be.
“People can experience the benefits of the water whether they’re near the ocean, a lake, river, swimming pool or even listening to the soothing sound of a fountain,” marine biologist and author of the 2014 book Blue Mind, Wallace Nichols, tells Quartz. “Most communities are built near bodies of water not just for practical reasons, but because as humans, we’re naturally drawn to blue space…but even if you aren’t in an area where there is easy access to water, you can still experience [its] emotional benefits.”
Many scribes, poets, painters, and sailors have attested to the feeling of wellness and peace that comes over them when they’re in, or near, bodies of water. “Whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can,” Herman Melville’s narrator declares in Moby Dick.
Now scientists are quantifying the positive cognitive and physical effects of water, too. It turns out that living by coasts leads to an improved sense of physical health and well-being, for example. And contact with water induces a meditative state that makes us happier, healthier, calmer, more creative, and more capable of awe.