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How Water Impacts Our Minds

Water is so important for our physical health, but it turns out it’s important for our mental health too. When you’re stressed out it’s common to try to conjure up images of your “happy place.” Most of us, whether it’s in moments of anxiety, or in the midst of planning a relaxing getaway from our everyday lives, automatically think about water. The question is, why? Why do images of crashing ocean waves, the sun shimmering on a lake, or kayaking on a quiet pond calm us?

Let’s start with our brains. We’re constantly being stimulated in our everyday lives and scientists say that juggling e-mail, phone calls, and other incoming information is actually changing how we think and behave. Undermining our ability to focus, multitasking actually causes us to experience more stress. When we retreat to a beach, however, we give our minds the much-needed chance to rest and wander freely. While our brains are still processing the sensory input of the crashing waves or bird calls, you’re not overloaded. This state of mild attentiveness helps us to be focused, but calm.

We get so many unexpected feelings from waterscapes. Watching the sunrise on the beach, looking up through the canopy of trees as you kayak down a winding river, and feeling the cascading water from a waterfall are just a few of the ways we experience awe and the vastness of nature. These feelings that we get in these natural landscapes helps us to feel connected to the world and often inspire us to think more big picture.

It’s no wonder with our increased feelings of mindfulness and awe that exercising in the presence of water may actually provide even more of a mental benefit than working out in a crowded gym. Being by the water can help us to feel so good that hobbies like kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming have become a way to add it to our weekly routine.

Whether you’re kayaking, canoeing, or swimming, spending time on a body of water surrounded by nature can help reduce stress, and clear your mind.