During a point in my life when my mental health was at its worst, one place that brought me solace was a spot on the bank of the Chattahoochee River, near where I lived at the time. Whenever I felt especially anxious about what was happening in my life, I would pack myself a book and some lunch, and settle into the dirt to simply watch the water rush by for a while. Apparently, science backs up my belief that the health benefits of being near water are as numerous as the drops in the sea.
This theory, which is often referred to as "blue mind theory," seems to be named after marine biologist Wallace Nichols' book, Blue Mind, which investigates the science behind why and how being near a body of water can benefit your well-being. In other words, this theory is definitely a thing, even if this is the first time you're hearing about it.
So why does a splash in the ocean have such an enormous impact on you? Well, part of the power behind the water's tie to the mind may be due to the time you spent immersed in water in the womb, says Carol Tuttle, certified energy therapist, founder of The Carol Tuttle Healing Center, and author of the book Mastering Affluence. "When we were in utero in our mother's womb, we heard the sounds that water can actually replicate," she explains to Elite Daily in an email. "We were also held in a body of water in the womb. These primal references create a subconscious reminder of feeling safe and protected in a world that can feel very vulnerable."
The ocean, specifically, offers a whole host of health benefits, says Tuttle. She explains that the salty air surrounding the ocean helps support serotonin and melatonin production which, respectively, can help boost your sense of well-being and make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.
Apparently, though, you don't have to immerse yourself in the nearest body of water for the stuff to work its magic on you. If you're city-bound, you can still reap the benefits: According to Dr. Sherrie Campbell, a licensed therapist and psychologist and author of the book Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life, even just listening to sounds of water can calm you down.
"The sounds of water are deeply soothing, which is why many people use sound machines to sleep," Campbell tells Elite Daily. "Rain, ocean, river, creek — it doesn’t matter. Water sounds cleanse and soothe." If you want to try it out for yourself, I personally love the "Anti-insomnia Waves" playlist on Spotify. Similarly, Rain Rain Sleep Sounds is a great and totally free app that's loaded with a number of soothing nature sounds. If you end up falling in love with either of these, Dr. Campbell suggests looking into purchasing a sound machine to keep in your bedroom for sweet dreams every night.
In fact, even Tuttle says she's managed to harness the soothing power of water inside the comfort of her own home with a new ionizer: "I recently invested in a home ionizer and have already seen an improvement in my sleep quality and overall mental health," she tells Elite Daily.
In case you're not familiar with them, ionizers are somewhat similar to white noise or sound machines, but they also have features that are meant to improve the air quality of a room. TBH, some of the health benefits of ionizers are still being debated, but generally speaking, "water ionizes the air, which is good for elevating mood," Dr. Campbell tells Elite Daily. So, it's worth trying, right?
Or, of course, you could always book that trip to a dreamy waterfall you've been fantasizing about. For now, though, while your wanderlust simmers, it's super easy to incorporate water sounds into your daily routine so that you can wave goodbye to stress (see what I did there?).