It’s nice to hang out at the ocean when you’re happy. But when you’re sad or mad, defeated, depressed, or unhappy it’s actual medicine. I think.
If the ocean’s not your jam, you probably still know what I’m talking about. Giant trees, huge rock formations, grand canyons, mountain ranges, a clear night starry sky in the middle of nowhere. These big natural spaces remind us… we’re small and life is short.
Ocean Shores, a nostalgic town on the Washington coast is about three hours from Seattle or Portland. The beaches are sprawling, sandy, and flat and if you grew up in this area, you likely logged plenty of summertime fun here as a kid and later as an adult. Most of us have.
This little town has every imaginable fun activity you’d expect plus more. From “Instagram-able moments” like your head in the mouth of Jaws or driving on the beach to all you can eat fish-n-chips followed by horseback, scooter, and bike rentals.
The list of memory makers is virtually endless.
What researchers say:
Being in nature feels good.
With a caveat that not enough research has been done on the impact of “blue spaces,” BlueHeath2020 an organization dedicated to discovering the positive impact of natural bodies of water on our health, explored connections between naturally watery landscapes and quality of life.
The consensus is that “near the ocean” dwellers naturally partake in more physical activity, have lower overall stress levels, and a deeper sense of well-being. Other analysis revealed similar findings such as lower obesity and improved cardiovascular health.
The Harvard Business Review points out, the number of studies on the topic are growing and proving out our hunches – there are massive research backed benefits to making nature your BFF.
Studies show – time in nature benefits our health by:
- Boosting working memory (the ability to hold bits of information for a short time such as remembering a phone number as you dial it)
- Lowering stress hormone, cortisol after two days camping in the woods
- Reducing inflammation in the elderly (after one week in the woods)
- Profoundly lowering anxiety when we’re near natural bodies of water
- Promoting a reduction of nearsightedness found in school age children when they were encouraged to “play outside” during breaks
As REI likes to say, #GetOutside!
National Geographic also chimed in with their spotlight on a growing body of research taking a deep dive (pun intended) into nature’s impact on happiness, mood, and our natural ability to fight off cancer. That last bit about cancer, I find fascinating since cancer is still on the rise and kids today spend less time outside than the average prisoner.
I find it fascinating that countries are now responding. For example, Japan made spending time “forest bathing” a medical treatment to be prescribed by a doctor, and the Finnish government now recommends its citizens spend a minimum of five hours a month in the woods to fend off depression.
Nature is now ‘medicine’
In times of great stress, I’ve always felt a strong compulsion to stand at the edge of the pacific ocean staring into the unknown as a form of soul food. I never put much thought into the science because frankly, when the mood strikes, who’s thinking about science?! I just knew it worked. And now that I live here full time I see and feel it working – firsthand.
Four days after moving from the I-5 corridor to the beach and my un-medicated blood pressure was normal for the first time in over a decade. In my book, that alone is a miracle. Coincidence? I’m not sure but I don’t think so. Will it spike back up? I don’t know, but it did spark an interest to do some research, share my (layperson) findings, and spend more time exploring.
Ocean Shores is a wonderful place, rich with history and things to do. And from here, you literally can’t move an inch (okay a mile) without tripping over some fantastic adventure in the woods or near the water.
That’s why we picked it.
What brings people here might be different for all, but no matter the catalyst, the magnetism of the place sure is palpable. So, if you haven’t been here lately and want a boost of nature’s good juju or a trip back in time shopping at the IGA – come visit!