You've likely heard of "green space"– areas in cities or residences that are full of plants that bring us a little closer to nature. Author and marine biologist Dr. Wallace Nichols uses a new phrase – "blue space"– those of us familiar with water understand.
Lakes, rivers, oceans, bays, even creeks and swimming pools are all blue space. Dr. Nichols, author of Blue Mind, a New York Times best seller, has been researching how blue spaces affect us. He calls it "the blue mind."
The blue mind, he says, separates us from the pressures and distractions of life, which he refers to as "the red mind." Having a blue mind lessens the stresses of the day and gives us a break from our overstimulated lives. Nichols says that the relationship of a boat to our mental health has been largely overlooked, until recently...
We know boating is fun and we take away a lot of good things after a day on the water but what does the science say?
Nichols: We know from studies that water positively affects us auditorily, visually, and somatically. Neuroscientists can now pinpoint in your brain where emotions manifest– it's called amygdala. They've found that even just looking at water can trigger feelings of wellness, compassion, empathy, and happiness. We experience slower breathing, reduced heart rate, and even lower skin temperature.
Blue mind takes us from our prefrontal cortex, responsible for things like planning and decision-making, to our default mode network– which is where we're thinking about others or ourselves and not specific tasks. Studies show that being on or near water, even just hearing it, adds wellness and emotional benefits. People say they feel better and their vital signs agree.
Why do we feel good when we we're on the water?
Nichols: When stress overload and attention fatigue are sustained over long periods of time, the "always-on" lifestyle can eventually result in memory problems, poor judgement, anxiety attacks, nervous habits, and even depression. Chronic stress damages the cardiovascular, immune, digestive, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. It lowers the levels of dopamine and serotonin– the body's natural "happy chemicals". All this causes us to feel exhausted and depressed.
Time on the water lets us unplug: there is less noise, fewer voices, and less stimulation. We get back our brain bandwidth that we can use for other things. Water takes aways distractions, much like meditation, it helps clear the mind– this is what blue mind is.
What happens to our body when we are on a boat?
Nichols: Our heart rates and breathing slow, people feel better and stress decreases. The sound of the water increases blood flow to the brain, inducing relaxation and a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness. We all really do feel better when we are on the water. A boat is in fact medicine in our lives.
Destin is rated as one of the nation's top places to live and boat. So get out there and enjoy some relaxation on the water. It will not only remind you of living in paradise, it will strengthen your health, mind, body, and soul!
We all know Florida is prone to hurricanes and when Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle last October, consumers demand better built homes now more than ever. We prepare for the future. All of our doors and windows have high impact and wind ratings, leaving you with a good view and peace of mind. When storms threaten, our owners will not need to board up. They can focus on preserving the home’s greatest asset – its occupants. Our homes are built to withstand most of what the Gulf of Mexico can throw at it.
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