A marine biologist on why people who are around water lead happier, more productive lives
According to Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author of the book, Blue Mind, says the benefits of being around water regularly include less stress and a better night’s sleep.
Written by Noah Goad
Dr. Wallace J. Nichols has been called “The Keeper of the Sea” by GQ Magazine. He’s partnering with Discover Boating Canada to inform people of the importance of enjoying water. The author of best-selling book, Blue Mind and renowned marine biologist, claims being around water regularly provides a plethora of physical and physiological benefits. This can include increased productivity at work, reducing stress levels, and a better night’s sleep.
There are many ways to get out and enjoy the water, but none has been a more beloved pastime by Canadians than boating. According to Canadian Boating Statistics, 43% of Canadians participate in boating activities.
The mere sight or sound of water has the ability to promote wellness by lowering cortisol, increasing serotonin and inducing relaxation (what Dr. Nichols calls a “Blue Mind state”) – flooding our mind and bodies with endorphins and positive neurochemicals, putting us at ease.
People are happier in coastal areas
According to The Washington Post, studies show that residents who live near large bodies of water, like an ocean or one of the Great Lakes, tend to have a better state of mind. Don’t worry central-Canadians, you aren’t doomed to a miserable life. Water of any sort will help induce relaxation.
“I think we all have access to some water” says Nichols. “It really is about recognizing whatever your water is and embracing it and then prioritizing it as part of your month or your week.”
This phenomenon could explain why population density tends to be higher in coastal areas. However, if you do live in a land-locked city like Calgary or Edmonton, there are still plenty of ways to get out and enjoy the water.
“Their water may be a pond on a farm,” Dr. Nichols says. “It may be a public swimming pool, it may be their bathtub, it may be a sprinkler on the lawn. It could be a lake, a river, it could be an ocean that they travel to.”
Water puts us at our best
Over 60 percent of Canadians say they go to work stressed every day. This is our “red” mind, a term Nichols coined, which he describes as a state of anxiety, stress, and overstimulation and connectivity from digital devices. Of course, a little stress helps motivate us, but excessive stress can lead to illnesses and diseases (according to Dr. Nichols, 60 percent of illnesses are caused by or exacerbated by stress).
There are a number of different ways to combat red mind. But tapping into our blue mind has proven effective. Blue mind is explained in Dr. Nichols’ book as a state of peacefulness and happiness associated with water, which helps take some of that daily stress away.
“Wouldn’t it be great if every health practitioner prescribed boat time, in addition to what they’re already suggesting,” says Dr. Nichols. “Imagine if insurance companies paid for what works, like if you’re under a lot of stress and you’re about to explode, instead of saying ‘here take a pill,’ say ‘try a sailing lesson.’ Maybe you’ll become addicted to kayaking or sailing or fishing or boating.”
Water activities also create several physical benefits, as most water activities tend to be at least slightly invigorating. These benefits can include a better immune system, lower risk of obesity and even better sex lives.
There is still plenty of summer left. Now that you know it’s doctor recommended, use this article as your prescription to get out and enjoy the water in whatever way you see fit.