Surfing Your Way to a Better Mood
Learning that being in or near the water makes us happier people is not a surprise for anyone that lives or plays in Montauk. We build homes in close proximity to, or with views of the ocean, we spend long summer days at the beach, and we search for restaurants overlooking the water. For many of us in the water on boards, we often dream about waves when we are not in them, and when we are away from the sea we are planning our return. Often we have a photo of a body of water as our screen saver to remind us of our happy place.
More often than not, an ocean scene is our sanctuary, whether it’s an actual or a mini mental vacation our connection to water is hard-wired.
The ground-breaking research detailed in “The Blue Mind” by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, describes how we are neurologically affected by being around and in the water. And when we understand our brain, we comprehend our behavior. The good news is, we can alter our feelings and behaviors by changing our neurological state, perhaps making the case that surfing is the key to happiness.
Nichols’ scientific research shows us that spending time in the water releases a set of neurochemicals that steadies our breathing, lowers blood pressure and evens our heart rate. The release of endorphins that inhibit pain, serotonin that brings about feelings of well-being, oxytocin for bonding and dopamine for novelty all add up to the emotions we process as happiness. All stemming from the simple action of going for a surf.
Think back to your most recent memory in the water, did you notice feelings of calm, relaxation, focus on the moment, even moments of peace? Surfing is often referred to as religion, and for those that surf, the commitment to it is unwavering. Maybe grabbing your board and paddling for waves is a short-cut to finding our bliss?