Mental Health a la Mother Nature!

I spent the first 29 years of my life in England and, as many of you will know, living there always puts you within reach of an ocean or sea. It doesn’t matter where you live, salt water is not that far away.In my case, it was the North Sea which was about a 1 hour drive away, and many a happy time was spent there just walking along the beach and listening to the waves.

On a stormy day, one could not help but appreciate the water’s power, when hearing the solid “thump” as a large wave broke. The watery turmoil landed, and was either absorbed by the surrounding water, or it spread out onto the beach only to run back towards the sea.

In contrast, the lakes in the Lake District have a more serene character. Their strength would seem to be their position within the geography of the area. It is a beautiful sight to suddenly see a lake emerge ahead of you, and be surrounded by a relatively rugged and very hilly terrain.

The Lake District would be a great peaceful influence on me. It would be like being wrapped up in a warm blanket and listening to soft strings playing a really gentle and melodic piece of music. The North Sea waves, in contrast, would be a mental scrubbing machine. There is nothing gentle about an ocean wave, but the cleansing action can be quite remarkable.

Coming to Ontario in 1975, I was fortunate to find work in the Toronto area, which has Lake Ontario immediately south of it. While it was lovely to have “the lake” so close, and while the size of Lake Ontario still amazes me, it is not the sea! Lake Ontario can generate some daunting waves, but they are fresh water waves and therefore do not have the same impact as their distant salt water cousins when they break.

A family just recently when through a very traumatic set of circumstances and, when it was all over, decided to drive to the coast for the weekend as a celebration of survival, and to refocus their energies on the future. I know how much they appreciated watching and listening to (in their case) the North Atlantic Ocean as it demanded attention by hurling its waves onto the beach.

My immediate reaction when hearing about how much they needed, and appreciated, the ocean experience, was to miss having an ocean/sea within easy reach. I felt sorry for people who have either never thought about the potential benefits of sharing some time with a large body of salt water, or simply do not have one available to them. Then my mind flashed back a few years.

When my older sister passed away, my instinct was to go to Niagara Falls. I really have little time for the commercial aspects  of the area, but I love the falls! How can a flow rate 150,000 US Gallons /568,000 litres PER SECOND not be impressive. Putting that flow over a  vertical drop of around 100ft, and it is very noisy! In fact it roars!

It was a very interesting experience because watching and listening to Niagara Falls was very similar to my North Sea experience many years earlier. The aggressive movement of water does seem to have a wonderful scrubbing action on one’s mind. It not only offers a distinct distraction from whatever else is taking up space there, but it does a pretty good job of cleaning out some of the history. It somehow provides an opportunity to refocus… and move on.

To all who have felt mentally invigorated by water, wherever it was, I totally understand. What better perspective on mental heath than to recognize that some therapies do not require health insurance; do not require large sums of money; do not need to be booked weeks in advance, and do not include time in waiting rooms! They just need the desire, and the necessary time, to find an appropriate watery location! Mental Health a la Mother Nature!



22 thoughts on “Mental Health a la Mother Nature!

  1. You know how much I love the ocean, especially the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, so I won’t bore you with my views. I totally agree with you on the therapeutic value of looking at, listening to and swimming in the waves.

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  2. Growing up in the country we spent more time swimming in creeks than the surf, as an adult I love to walk down to the creek and sit by the water when I return to my hometown. It calms my mind and soothes my soul and I find that rainy weather also does the same especially after a long dry spell.

    There is quite a bit of research on the health benefits of being by or on the water, they refer to it as blue mind and it helps explain why we find the water therapeutic. It makes for interesting reading, check out: for a starting point if you’re interested 🙂

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    • Thank you for your Comments, and the link. Much as I love the sounds of ocean waves crashing onto a beach, I do also love the “babbling brook” sound! While they are both very therapeutic to me, they each seem to resolve very different needs. 🙂

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  3. So true!! I come from South Africa but have been living in the U.K. For 7 years- however I live near the Thames not the ocean and I really miss it and the calmness it brings me! I will actually be moving to Toronto in two weeks 🙂

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  4. For several years I was lucky to have a house near the New Jersey beach. It was peaceful. As soon as I got within 20 minutes I could feel everything lift off of my shoulder (and the converse was true too). I now live 3 hours from the ocean. My stepkids live in Denver. Although they encourage us to move there (and there are wonderful things about that area too), I can’t bear to be so far from the ocean. I need to be able to cleanse my soul occasionally with the salt air. It’s healing.

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