Do you Know What the Ocean Does to Your Brain?

· December 3, 2017

The ocean is good for you any way you look at it. In fact, when human beings have the opportunity to appreciate its vastness, they perceive things differently and their mood changes. These changes are enhanced by the rhythmic movement of the sea. That’s why so many people can sit by the sea and contemplate its beauty for hours on end.

The brain is endowed with a property that is known as plasticity. This has to do with the fact that everything we experience produces a change in the brain’s architecture. Regardless of whether the experience is big or small.

For example, meditation and looking at the ocean are some of the experiences that cause powerful changes in our mental state.

“It was me and the sea. And the sea was alone, as was I. One of us two was missing.”
-Antonio Porchia-

It is not mere coincidence that so many poets write about the sea. This gigantic mass of water makes us feel, and watching the waves can resonate very powerfully with our nervous system. Up next, we are going to delve into some of these effects.

1. The ocean enhances creativity 

It has been proven that overly stimulating environments generate stress. This is what happens when, for example, we walk down a busy street in a big city. There are cars everywhere, lots of people, construction work going on… Our eyes take in hundreds of thousands of stimuli at the same time and it overwhelms us.


A jar is full of seashells.

With the sea, the exact opposite happens. It’s an immense expanse of water with very few elements that stand out. There are the waves, sea birds, and maybe the occasional ship. Each element is easily identifiable. Faced with this, the brain reacts by imagining and creating.

This environment allows us to allocate more resources towards creating new thoughts. On the other hand, when we look at more stimulating views, we would have to assign part of these resources towards simply paying attention.

2. The ocean encourages meditation

The ocean isn’t just beautiful. It is also an experience involving almost all of our senses. It has a soft and rhythmic sound, which is captured by our ears. At the same time, the blues and greens calm the mind. The sea also touches us through our sense of smell, with its fresh, salty fragrance.

All of this together boosts the production of alpha waves within the brain. These waves are characteristic of sleep. But in this case, they appear during our waking hours because our attention is focused on something fixed and rather constant. This state of mind is the same one achieved through meditation, and it has the power to help us eliminate toxic things from our mind.

3. It helps us relax and reduces anxiety 

This is perhaps the most noticeable effect the ocean has on our brain. The color, movement, and size of the ocean has a soothing effect on the brain and the whole nervous system. There’s space, vast space in front of us. The sky and the sea make us feel peaceful.

An ocean inside the silhouette of a woman

Instinctively, a calm sea generates a sense of trust. That’s because it’s a flat surface with no “hidden” places. Our brain views it as an absence of threats, and therefore silences our internal alarms. Plus, something inside us knows that, biologically, we all came from there. That’s where life originated. Thus, we feel it as somewhat “familiar” and safe. 

4. The ocean keeps us from overthinking

Overthinking is when we obsessively return to the same idea over and over again. You have something on your mind, and it simply won’t go away. But when you do think about it, you never come to a new conclusion. Instead, you just end up right back at square one. The same questions. The same answers. And it’s frustrating.

The sea helps us break out of those pernicious cycles of thought and dead-end streets. That’s because it’s a space that holds little relationship to our everyday environments. It doesn’t remind us of our problems or transport us back to our routines. It’s a break from all of that, and so we can detach from our obsessive ideas.

5. The ocean has a hypnotic effect 

Simply watching the ocean helps us enter into a new mental state. As we mentioned earlier, it fosters the production of alpha waves. At the same time, it is also good for us from an emotional point of view. Time is put into perspective. That’s why we can spend long periods of time watching the ocean without even realizing it.

A woman with an umbrella is sailing in a paper boat.

The ocean is definitely one of nature’s most awesome wonders. It is transcendental and rejuvenating. It is almost therapy, it has such a powerful effect on the brain. It’s one of the places we should go to when we need peace. because the water can wash away our worries.