4 ways a beach vacation changes your brain, according to research

Posted at 12:47 AM, Aug 09, 2016
When life gets tough and we just want to relax, a beach vacation sounds like the perfect getaway. There’s something about lying on the beach in the warm sand with a soft ocean breeze, and the smell of tropical flowers and saltwater. Although this may seem like the ultimate cliche vacation, our brains may actually be saying something to us when they’re craving some good old beachside relaxation.
Spending time by the water is not only a pleasant way to take in the beautiful scenery, it can have some profound effects on our mental state. Going on vacation by the water can help improve our mood and even inspire us in ways we can’t attain in our everyday routines.
Need more convincing that you’re in dire need of a beach vacation? Here are four ways a vacation by the water can change your brain.
1. It Can Reduce Stress
There’s a reason you feel so relaxed lying under that palm tree. A study recently published in Health & Place found that “higher levels of blue space visibility were associated with lower psychological distress.” Basically, the more time you spend around blue skies and water, the less stressed you’re likely to be.
2. It May Help Combat Depression
Spending time in the sun can do wonders for your mood. A 2009 study from the University of Alabama found “an association between decreased exposure to sunlight and increased probability of cognitive impairment.” Natural light increases levels of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for pleasant moods.
3. It Can Make You More Creative
Looking at the color blue can boost our ability to think creatively, according to a study from the University of British Columbia. The tranquility of looking into a blue ocean with a blue sky puts our minds at ease, and it allows our minds to wander freely.
4. It Can Help You Sleep
It’s not just being away from the hustle and bustle of daily life that helps you rest more easily. The sound of the waves crashing can help sooth your mind and lull you to sleep. Breathing the fresh sea air can also work wonders. Fresh ocean air is filled with negative ions, which can help increase your intake of oxygen. This balances our levels of serotonin, which can help regulate our natural sleep and wake cycles.