Thalassophile (n.) a lover of the sea
Living in a tiny beach town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I am surrounded by tourists who flock to enjoy the sun, sand, and wild ponies our shore has to offer.
Vacationing to the ocean is something most families have to plan and save up for the whole year, but it is a sacrifice all are willing to make!
According to the U.S Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012, 58.67 million people went to the beach in 2010.
Travel Agent Central tells us that Americans spend a whopping 101.1 Billion on summer vacations every year.
Though these vacations may not all be in beach locations, one can only imagine how much small beach town economies like mine benefit from the “tourist takeover” 4-5 months out of the year.
So why are people so drawn to the beach?
My thought is that our subconscious mind knows the benefits our bodies receive from being at the beach, and that is why we crave it.
Here are some aspects to consider the next time you’re relaxing in the sand.
Vitamin D is vital for a healthy body.
Strong bones, functioning muscles such as the heart, lungs and brain, and having a body that is able to fight off infection are benefits to making sure you have plenty of vitamin D.
Your body can make its own vitamin D with sun exposure, and that is how 80-90% of us get most of our daily dose. This is a perfect excuse for a nice bout of sunbathing, but when doing so, don’t forget your sunscreen! Skin cancer is not a benefit of the beach!
Sunlight Decreases Depression
Decreased sun exposure has been linked to a drop in serotonin levels which leads to depression. This type of depression mostly occurs during the winter when the sunlight is not as prevalent, giving it the name of “seasonal depression.”
Being at the beach gives you an increased amount of sun exposure where special areas of the retina are then cued which trigger the release of serotonin which is believed to help regulate mood, social behavior, sleep, appetite, and digestion.
Studies have shown that being in the eyesight of the ocean lowers stress levels.
“Increased views of blue space (oceans, rivers, lakes) is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Amber L. Pearson, assistant professor of health geography at Michigan State. “However, we did not find that with green space.” (parks, forests).
Ocean water has a significant amount of minerals in it including sodium, chloride, sulfate, magnesium, and calcium. Because of this, it can be considered an antiseptic. This makes ocean water extremely useful for anything as simple as a cut, to psoriasis.
Sand is a natural exfoliant and stimulates all of the nerves in your feet while walking on it.
Sand is a great way to “ground” yourself. By having your bare feet in the sand, you are absorbing the Earth’s electrons which neutralizes free radicals diffusing inflammation and can even help to improve sleep cycles.
Our brains are preoccupied with work so much of the time that we need to be sure to give ourselves a break every now and then. Downtime replenishes our attention and motivation preparing ourselves for even more productivity to achieve our highest level of performance.
So next time you’re sitting on the beach, take advantage of all of the benefits the natural wonder of the beach has to offer.