From a professional, master’s level staff to our holistic, individualized approach, our treatment program at Delray Beach Intensive Outpatient has a lot to recommend it for anyone who is struggling with a substance use disorder. But did you know that its scenic beachside setting might have benefits to your mental health in and of itself?
Going as far back as Ancient Greece, when Plato, Hippocrates and Aristotle sung the praises of seawater baths and celebrated the sea’s healing power, the ocean has been both culturally believed and scientifically proven to have positive effects on both physical and mental health.
One reason that the beach has been thought to have such a healing effect is because ocean water has a high content of many minerals that are critical for our physical health, some of which we can absorb “transdermally” or through our skin when we go for a relaxing soak at the beach.
There’s iodine, which is responsible for hormone regulation and can improve the functioning of the brain and thyroid, bromine, which is thought to have a calming effect, and calcium, which is critical for cell communication and bone health.
There’s also magnesium, one of the most abundant minerals in the body, which can help rid the body of excess water and other toxins and is necessary for proper muscle function and metabolism. Finally, the most well-known ocean mineral, salt, is itself a natural antibacterial and can have a relaxing effect on skin.
Negative ions are molecules that contain an extra negatively charged electron, and, despite their downer of a name, they are actually known for having a highly positive effect on human health.
But, since they are released by many of our electronic devices, we tend to live much of our life surrounded by the less healthy positive ions. Thus, there are up to 20 times more negative ions at the beach than in a crowded city.
Our lungs can absorb these negative ions from the air, which can have a healing effect on the respiratory system, and we can also absorb them through the skin when we swim in the ocean or when we walk barefoot on the beach, which you might notice as a tingling sensation in your feet.
Negative ions can help our bodies get rid of toxic, unstable free radicals. They can also help purify our blood and revitalize our immune system and cell metabolism. Negative ions can also enhance oxygen flow to the brain, helping us to feel more alert and to have more mental energy.
Finally, the molecules have also been found to increase our brains’ levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can help you combat stress and depression, making the hard work of recovery feel a little bit less arduous.
Calming And Inspiring
The slow, predictable and steady sound of waves can help to de-stimulate our brains from the high octane rush of everyday life, activating our parasympathetic nervous system and putting us into a relaxed, meditative state that will be perfect for reflecting on the deep inner work that you have been doing to find your footing in addiction recovery in your intensive outpatient program.
On the other hand, as calming as the beach can be, it can also be plenty inspiring and enervating. Jumping into the crisp ocean water can release endorphins and adrenaline, which in turn can help your brain to produce mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Even simple sunlight can help give you a recovery leg up by letting you fuel your body with Vitamin D, a nutrient that has been shown to have protective effects against depression and other mental disorders.
Exercise also has plenty of proven benefits as far as mental health and recovery, and the fun and freeing atmosphere at the beach does nothing if not encourage you to get moving, whether that’s with a stroll through the sand, some relaxing beach yoga, or a hop into the ocean itself.
Swimming also has the benefit of being low impact, meaning that it is easier on your joints than conventional forms of exercise, and the anti-inflammatory properties of mineral-rich ocean water can also help reduce the strain exercise can have on your body.
Additionally, one recent study found that mere exposure to the color blue enhances performance on a creative task, and another found that simply living near a beach was associated with enhanced mental and physical well-being. Maybe that’s why Hawaii has been found to be the happiest state in the US for seven years in a row!
On a more spiritual level and psychological level, contemplating something as vast and majestic as the ocean can help you feel connected to something larger than yourself and to appreciate the beauty of the simple things. Part of recovery is reconnecting to things that you once enjoyed but lost sight of, so reminding yourself of a way to have fun that doesn’t involve drugs and alcohol can help you feel more hopeful and confident about the lifetime of sobriety that lies ahead.
If you’ve currently been struggling with addiction, maybe it’s time to embrace good old vitamin sea with Delray Beach IOP—and make sure you pack your swimsuit! To learn more about how our comprehensive, evidence-based intensive outpatient program can kick-start your journey towards recovery, call us at (561) 678-0618 today!