Although we live right next to it, many of us do not visit the beach as often as we should. When it is in our own backyards, we sometimes forget to take advantage of all of the benefits it has to offer. From natural exfoliants to stress relievers, the beach can do a lot for our overall physical and mental health. As we discussed in the last blog, the health and balance of our bodies can have a significant impact on our minds and how we combat stressful challenges in life. As I therapist in the South Bay, I too am making it my goal to get to the beach more. In order to motivate myself and my clients to do so, I put together a list of three ways in which the beach can work wonders on your mental and physical health.
Of course we know that milk is fortified with vitamin D and eating your greens can offer you a good supply of it as well. However, did you know that most people get 80-90% of their daily dose of vitamin D from sun exposure? According to Harvard Medical School, the most substantial source of vitamin D that absorbs into your body depends on how much UVB light comes through your skin. As vitamin D is essential for healthy skin, nails, and bones, it is important that you receive your daily dose.
The sun can play a large role in your health-promoting vitamin D intake if you receive it in small increments. We all are aware of the negative effects over-endured sun exposure can have on our skin. However, it is also known that the use of sunscreen blocks the vital UVB rays needed for vitamin D production in the body. Therefore, when enjoying the great sunshine our South Bay beaches have to offer, make sure to spend only about 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to gain the benefits of vitamin D, and then apply sunblock with 30 SPF or higher so your skin gets the protection it needs for long-term health.
Even when we intend to go lay out on a towel, read a book, or take a nap, a day at the beach usually gets you moving even without trying. Whether you decide to take a dip in the ocean, go for a mind-clearing beach walk, or just walk through the sand a bit to get to your favorite spot, chances are you are going to get your body moving more than you may be aware. Studies have even shown that just walking on the beach requires about 1.6-2.5 times more work than walking on a hard surface, such as concrete, at the same speed.
When we exercise, our bodies release key chemicals called endorphins which interact with the receptors in our brains to reduce our perception of pain. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, lessen feelings of depression and anxiety, boost self-esteem, and improve sleep. All of these things are essential to living a healthier, happier life. As the beach offers you physical activity to contribute to your physical and mental health, spending some time there consistently can in turn provide you with a greater overall well-being.
Most importantly, the beach has a calming effect on our bodies, souls, and minds. While at the beach, we tend to unplug from our smartphones, tablets, and other devices, and enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty around us. Recent studies have shown that stress, loss of sleep, and depression have been connected to constantly staying plugged in. Allowing yourself a technology-free escape at the beach on a consistent basis allows you to reconnect to yourself, re-center, and stay grounded.
Sand gets everywhere anyways, so spare the cracks and creases in your phones and tablets and leave the technology at home. At the beach there is much more to look at and experience when we aren’t distracted by texts or emails. In fact, the beach can satisfy all five of our senses in just one trip. A day at the beach means smelling the ocean air, feeling the sand beneath our feet, tasting the salty sea water as we swim under a wave, seeing beautifully satisfying scenery, and hearing the waves crash on the shore. All of these sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and feelings, calm our senses and allow us to tune back into our bodies and minds.
The beach can serve as a place to recharge and reconnect our mental, physical, and spiritual beings. Beach visits are healthy and pleasant, and visiting the beach more often can lead to long-term positive effects on our health and well-being. Although the beach does have magical healing powers, if you are in need of professional help, I provide therapy in the South Bay to teens, young adults, adults, and couples. If you are interested in learning more about how to live a happier life, or to schedule an appointment with me, contact me today by phone or email me. I look forward to hearing from you soon!