Many of us are drawn to the coast and whether we are diving into the waves or simply breathing in that magical sea air from dry land the effect in terms of its impact on our mind, bodies and souls can be similarly powerful.
There is something incredibly magical and healing about the sea. For many it leaves us invigorated yet calmed, we gain energy while also sleeping better. It provides space for us to gain perspective, be reflective, be present, ease worries and find peace. It is our ‘happy place’, whether it is our daily addiction and way of life or a holiday destination synonymous with relaxation and rejuvenation.
If you are one of the world’s many ocean-lovers, we are right there beside you! We decided to take a deeper look into what’s behind the array of physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing benefits - often nicknamed ‘vitamin sea’ - that draw so many of us to the coast?
Soak up those minerals
Our bodies requires essential minerals to function normally, which we primarily get from a balanced and nutrient-rich diet. Being deficient in these minerals can have major adverse impacts on our physical and mental health. Sea water is rich in minerals - including sodium, chloride, magnesium and calcium (essential for human health) - and these are said to be absorbed through our skin.
These minerals mean that sea water is also thought to be anti-inflammatory and healing for a range of skin conditions. High levels of magnesium also relax your muscles and nervous system, having a calming effect and improving sleep.
Negative ions - a positive for your wellbeing
The air that we breathe is shown to include both negatively and positively charged ions - small molecules in the atmosphere that are charged with electricity. While positive ions - produced in abundance within our polluted and built environments - are found to drain our energy and cause cellular damage, negative ions - found in nature and particularly around the ocean and mountains - are credited with boosting energy, enhancing the immune system and relieving stress among an array of health and wellbeing benefits.
If you’ve heard of the concept of grounding, it will be no surprise to hear of the reported health benefits of walking barefoot on the beach (or any barefoot contact with the earth). The concept of ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’ is based on the earth’s surface being negatively charged and similar to above the effects of this have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve a range of health functions. While the research is not vast I’m sure many of us have experienced a sense of increased wellbeing after a barefoot stroll over the sand!
Happy hormones do the happy dance
Did you know that our moods and happiness are directly impacted by our hormones - chemical messengers that are produced by glands within our body and travel through our blood communicating with and impacting the functioning of different parts of our body? Several key hormones have a distinct role to play in influencing our moods and happiness - including serotonin and dopamine.
There are many things that you can do to boost the production of these feel good hormones within your body, increasing your energy and happiness levels.
Key among these - you guessed it - is spending time in or around the ocean. Negative ions - described above - have been found to help balance serotonin levels, and cold water swimming has also been found to trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin.
Cold water swimming - an elixir for physical and mental health?
Cold water dips in the winter sea are skyrocketing in popularity, and for those with the will power to step outside of their comfort zone and push through the initial shock there awaits the potential for a myriad of physical and mental health benefits.
The cold water triggers receptors under the skin that release feel good hormones, while the brain releases pain relief hormones responsible for a euphoric feeling that keeps many regular cold water swimmers coming back for more.
Regular cold water swimmers' bodies learn to adapt to the shock of the cold water, and theories suggest that this might simultaneously support better responses to psychological stresses, supporting better resilience and mental health.
Cold water swimming is also thought to enhance the function of the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for relaxing us) while boosting our immune systems.
Perspective and awe
Perhaps when we are in, or by, the ocean we feel our place within and connection to nature more keenly. Or perhaps being at the edge of that vast expanse of the sea or ocean helps centre and ground us. Or perhaps it's being in a state of awe that the ocean provides, which according to research is linked with greater levels of happiness and wellbeing. Data suggests that awe changes our brain activity, focuses our mind outside of ourselves and creates space for deeper connections.
And that's a wrap
The health benefits of being in and around the sea are so extensive we could keep going forever - but for now it's time to grab a towel and our Sweet Bamboo flask and head to the beach! Whether you're dipping a toe into that wonderful healing sea water, immersing yourself for a swim, taking a brisk walk or simply standing and looking out to sea while taking in some deep breathes, we hope that you have the chance to soak up some Vitamin Sea in the near future.
We like to think that all of our gift boxes are infused with a beautiful dose of Vitamin Sea, capturing the inspiration that we and many of the wonderful local makers of the products we stock find in the beautiful coastline of our West Country home. Carefully packaged in our coastal-inspired custom wrapping, these are ready to send directly to whoever you'd like to send some Vitamin Sea magic to.
If you're looking for a special care package or gift during these tough winter months, check out our Vitamin Sea Gift Box, curated to capture an extra dose of that ocean magic to share with those who need it most.