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Make a sea change: Why humans are happier in water

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Dr Easkey Britton believes in the 'power of the sea to heal and restore a sense of wellbeing'. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Dr Easkey Britton believes in the 'power of the sea to heal and restore a sense of wellbeing'. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Dr Easkey Britton believes in the 'power of the sea to heal and restore a sense of wellbeing'. Photo: Naoise Culhane

In his bestselling book 'Blue Mind', California-based scientist Wallace J Nichols charts the latest research that shows how being in, on or under water can help make you happier, healthier and better at what you do.

Drawing on the latest developments in neuroscience and psychology as well as stories from scientists, military veterans and artists, Nichols shows how proximity to water improves performance, diminishes anxiety, amplifies creativity and improves our overall wellbeing.

In Ireland, scientist and surfer Dr Easkey Britton (left) spoke at Inspirefest 2018 about how the water that surrounds us can play a crucial part in our mental wellbeing.

Dr Britton told the gathering how the simple experience of being in water can leave a powerful imprint on our body and mind because it is such a multisensory experience.

"It's visually stimulating, with a thousand shades of constantly moving blue," she said, "and wave-exposed coastlines release negative ions believed to alter our biochemistry, lowering our cortisol and lighting up our mood."

In her work with the NEAR Health Project at NUI Galway, Dr Britton is engaged in finding more ways to connect people with blue spaces.

"My bias as a life-long surfer has certainly influenced my desire to better understand what I've intuitively felt all my life; the power of the sea to heal and restore a sense of wellbeing. Emerging evidence suggests that physical activity in the sea, in particular surfing, has confirmed psychological as well as physical benefits," says Dr Britton.

Weekend Magazine