Mental Health & Blue Mind Therapy
As someone who has experienced a few heavy life experiences to date, I’m not going to deny that at times my mental health has been affected. When you experience a traumatic event, your body’s defences take effect and create a stress response, which may make you feel a variety of physical symptoms, behave differently and experience more intense emotions. (1) This makes it so important to find mental health advice that can help to positively shift your mindset on a daily basis, which is where blue mind therapy comes in.
It comes as no surprise, that during the long months of the global pandemic, research shows that millions of us turned to nature. At times it felt, this was one of the few things we freely had access to. Most of us know that getting outside is good for our mental and physical health, but visiting our coast lines or lakes and rivers, is considered by some to be the optimum version of nature therapy. In fact, a 2016 study found that increased views of blue space are significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress, a result which was not true for green space. (2)
Mental Health in Lockdown
Research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in outdoor spaces had been vital for our mental health… Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more. (3)
“45% of us reported being in outdoor spaces has been vital for our mental health…”
I don’t know about you but for me, the long days of solitude combined with procrastination, resulted with extra time engaging online with like-minded souls.
During this time, a picture of positivity kept popping by, reminding me of the importance your mental health has on your overall well being. Fellow ocean lover Charlotte Lodey from @palmtreeclub has the kind of energy you can’t help but absorb.
Charlotte, ICF Life coach and Blue Health™️ coach, advocates the powerful therapeutic benefits to cold water immersion, helping to motivate us all to have a better mindset. The ocean has been a saviour for me in life and after reading her journal, it’s no wonder as she explains, “This attraction is a deep biological connection to water, with it making up almost 60% of our body and covering 70% of the earth’s surface. According to Wallace J Nichols author of the groundbreaking book Blue Mind… the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness by increased blood flow to the brain and heart and which induce relaxation.” (4)
Nichols also gave a TedTalk (5) on the subject. “The term ‘blue mind’ describes the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on, or underwater,” he says. “It’s the antidote to what we refer to as ‘red mind,’ which is the anxious, over-connected, and over-stimulated state that defines the new normal of modern life. Research has proven that spending time near the water is essential to achieving elevated and sustained happiness.”
Cold Water Therapy
So, if you feel like you need something to reset your system I seriously suggest you give cold water exposure a go. Wild swimming is sweeping the country and for good reasons. The benefits of cold water therapy can be easily accessed here in the UK and is a proven way to release those endorphins.
One of Charlotte’s recommendations is “Find your mantra, life rules and stick to them.” For instance, she swims daily first thing in the morning, it gives that feeling of achievement before the day has a chance to get on top of you and prioritize other tasks.
In Charlotte’s own words, “This meant I got the head space, the clarity, the freedom, the lightness, the connection all before anyone else was awake. I felt empowered, strong, brave and content all before breakfast.
Sure I didn’t have to do this little thing for me and could have slept in and got up when everyone else did. But as soon as you start interacting with anyone, digital or face to face you start to use your energy, personal power. If it is low to start with, you will feel like all situations are that little bit more testing, difficult and harder to engage with.” (6)
Finding access to cold water
The blue mind theory isn’t limited to those who live by the coast, lakes or rivers. It can be simplified to your local park as you watch birds come and go, even closer to home, many swear by a daily cold shower which can invigorate the mind and body. The key is to find what works for you and commit to utilising it.
“The key is to find what works for you and commit to utilising it.”
If this feels inaccessible to you, the power of water can go beyond physicalities of being in or near it. Anything that replicates the sound of water is likely to ease your anxieties and hush those niggling thoughts. Creating nature in your own home is a good way to unwind and could save you from long nights of tossing and turning. I often find myself listening to soundscapes easily accessible in apps such as CALM or cold water surf company Finnisterre’s Hell or High Water podcasts telling tales of sailing adventures.
What’s Charlotte’s top three recommendations?
There isn’t a more truthful statement than ‘knowledge is power’, it’s just knowing where to find it. Charlotte recommends her favourite resources for a mental health reset and insight and how we can work with nature to feel better.
BOOK Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols heralded as ‘One man’s hymn to the power of water’ by The Guardian and The Wim Hof Method for theory and scientific insight into the power of cold exposure on your mental and physical capabilities.
PODCAST India Pearson’s ‘Start a Ripple’ founded on the theory that ripples are made when we connect movement with water.
RESOURCE Most importantly, head here for sea swimming tips and safety. Open bodies of water can be extremely dangerous even on the calmest of days.
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