Why IS Water So Soothing?
Have you noticed that yourself? There's something calming, almost hypnotic, about looking out over the ocean, or seeing the shadows and sparkles created by water as it flows along a river.
I’ll start out with the spoiler – nobody really truly knows why being near water can calm and soothe us! But a wee online search brings up some interesting theories as to why something as simple as laying in a warm bath can have such a positive effect:
🌊 There’s just something about the feeling of water on your skin. The way it trickles and ripples. The way you can make it slither and splash. You can’t do that with plain old air! Feeling water on our skin can be so soothing. It’s cleansing, refreshing, relaxing. Maybe it reminds us of being in the womb!
🌊 It could be something called the mammalian diving response. Our amphibian ancestors seemingly used the mechanism of diving underwater to slow down their heartbeat and lower their body temperature. Doesn’t that sound peaceful, hiding out under water? It made them feel safe because predators were less likely to attack in water than on land. Though I suppose that depends which bit of ocean you’re swimming in - meeting up with a shark might kill the buzz a bit.
The modern-day version of the dive response, for we humans anyway, is more about submerging your face into cold water – as it touches your nostrils and you hold your breath, your heart rate lowers, and blood is pooled to your core, which creates a sense of peace.
Have you ever been upset and advised to go and splash your face with cold water? I always thought it was to disguise that you’d been crying and had red, puffy eyes. But now I think, yep, it did help me to calm down.
In fact, even drinking a glass of water can help you calm down. In whatever way you approach it, water seems to activate your parasympathetic nervous system – that’s the one that helps you rest, digest and relax.
🌊Water reminds us of nature. Even if we can’t be at the ocean or river, being in a shower or bath somehow takes us back to our connection with nature.
Perhaps the sound of the bath running could be a factor. Isn’t there something beguiling about the sound of water? The rush of waves against the sandy shore, the white noise of a waterfall, the babbling of a stream over shiny, worn smooth rocks. All hypnotic and relaxing (and again, maybe a throwback to our time in the womb, hearing the swishing fluids and beating heart, when we surely felt safe and protected).
🌊 Large expanses of water bring about a feeling of awe. Of the size of nature. And of how small we, and our problems, really are on this huge planet we call home (the surface of which is 71% water!). When you can release your issues this way, you’re bound to feel happier and less stressed.
🌊 Water can induce a meditative state. A kind of dreamlike feeling. One that frees your mind, allowing you to be more creative. You must have experienced those ‘Eureka!’ moments when standing under the shower or soaking in the bath. Your mind drifts off and … bingo! You come up with the answer to a problem you hadn’t even been thinking about!
🌊 According to marine biologist Wallace J Nichols, there is indeed a phenomenon, that he calls Blue Mind, where being close to water induces positive emotional states including feeling calm, relaxed, being more creative and enjoying more restful sleep. He claims that water can impact our neurotransmitters to improve mood in a similar way to meditation.
So if you’re not lucky enough to be able to nip out to the ocean or a nearby river, simply head to your bathroom and stand under the shower or have a soothing soak in the bath, and see what it does to your mood.
And remember, if you have any of our bath soaks, do use them! Boost the feel-good factor of your bath water with the addition of magnesium. It's going to do you much more good being absorbed through your skin rather than just sitting in the packet!
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