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Science Explains How Staying Near Water Can Change Our Brains

Science Explains How Staying Near Water Can Change Our Brains

Have you ever felt at peace when you’re walking by the ocean? A sense of rejuvenation when you stand by a waterfall? How about taking in the view of a breathtaking lake from your window? We can often report feeling a sense of calm when we’re around water and scientists say, this is having a positive effect on our brains.

So what exactly is happening to our brains when we surround ourselves with water? Well, the calming effect is down to a vacation for our brains from over-stimulation. Looking at water and listening to its sound puts our overloaded minds into a relaxed and hypnotic-like state with the benefit of this being a different way that our brain processes thoughts, leading to more calm and creative states and an increase our well-being.

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Often referred to as blue space, the impact of the sea, rivers, lakes on our happiness and well-being is being researched much more by neuro-scientists and psychologists. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, has discussed and published the different ways bodies of water really can positively affect us and many psychologists have researched how just having blue space in front of you can boost your mental health.

Water Induces Meditative States

When we hear the crashing of waves by the ocean, it can actually put us into a mindful, mediative state. The sound of waves has been found to alter the brain’s wave patterns and invoking a meditative, relaxed state. Even simply observing the movement of water causes our minds to calm. This has numerous benefits for contributing to lowering depression, lowering stress levels, anxiety, and promotes better mental clarity and sleep patterns.

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Water Invokes Inspiration and Creativity

When we’re near water, our brains switch off from busy mode to relaxed mode. This naturally leads our brains to open up because it’s not focused on the millions of thoughts swirling around that can often lead to stress or anxiety. When your brain is in this relaxed state, it is open more to inspired and creative thoughts. In essence, we are switching our brains off or giving it a rest from the norm causing a better mental environment for insight and introspection.

Water Gives Us A Sense of Awe

Awe is an important factor in the recently popular science of positive psychology. The emotion of awe contributes greatly to our happiness because it not only allows us to be in the present moment but it causes us to think about our place in the world around us invoking a feeling of being humble, feelings of a connection to something beyond ourselves and the pure vastness of nature.

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Water Increases The Benefits of Exercise

Exercising is obviously a good way to improve our mental well-being, however going for a run or walk by the ocean will increase these benefits ten fold. Going for a swim in a lake or cycling along a river trail will give you more of a mental boost than working out in a crowded city or gym environment. The idea is that being surrounded by blue space triggers a more positive benefit to exercising, with the intake of negative ions into our systems increasing.

Water Is A Rich Source of Negative Ions

The effects of positive and negative ions on our well-being have been considered a natural influence on how we feel. Positive ions are emitted by electrical appliances such as computers, microwaves and hairdryers that drains us of our natural energy whereas negative ions are generated by waterfalls, oceans waves, and thunderstorms. The rich amount of negative ions in the atmosphere accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen, balance levels of seratonin (the chemical linked to mood and stress), and contributes towards rejuvenating the mind and improving alertness and concentration.

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Taking A Natural Dip

Not only does being near water increase your sense of well-being, but being submerged in a natural source of water such as the sea or a lake invigorates your body greatly. The differing temperatures add benefits from both sides – the natural, cold chill can provide a soothing treatment for your nerves and refresh the body both mentally and physically while warmer waters during the summer can help relax muscles and tensions.

So, if you’re looking to clear your head then search for some blue space – whether you’re lucky enough to visit the ocean or just sitting near your local fountain, water has a powerful influence on the brain and can help change your mental clarity, capacity, happiness, and well-being.

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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