Struggling for inspiration in your plans to get away from it all this summer? Craving an adventure, with some wellbeing TLC? The key to achieving this could be simpler than you think – and we’re not keeping it secret. At all.
Look to the water – for the mere sight or sound of it triggers our brains to react positively, according to Dr. Wallace J Nichols, marine biologist and bestselling author of Blue Mind.
I mean, water does make up 75% of our brain. It kinda makes sense.
Blue Mind is a book about the physical and psychological benefits of water – and its author is adamant we should all be making the most of the very element that covers 71% of our planet.
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“Research has shown that being near, in, on or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body,” Dr. Nichols explains, “including lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of wellbeing and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts.”
It’s been under our noses all along – who knew water was so good for our wellbeing.
The sense of peace we get around water is what Nichols calls our ‘Blue Mind’. And water, it appears, is what we all crave, with a recent UK study finding that people who live near the coast are generally happier and healthier.
With the all of this in mind (no pun intended), here are four water-filled ways you can explore your own Blue Mind mentality on a Flash Pack trip…
Get aqua active
When we exercise, our heart rate shoots up and more oxygen is pumped to the brain, resulting in the growth of new brain cells.
Working out makes you smarter, then – which is handy, considering the news that men are getting dumber. Dr Nichols also tells us that ‘being surrounded by blue space helps us relax, and exercise is good for our bodies and our brains.’
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Canyoning around the rocky ravines of Slovenia’s Bohinj Valley sounds like the perfect combination. With water gushing either side of you, it’s hard NOT to get a healthy dose of Blue Mind, while the adrenaline rush is sure to keep your brain active.
Discover a whole new world
Large, beautiful oceans and epic lakes tend to inspire awe in us, and recent science tells us that these moments can make us happier, less stressed and more creative. Wellbeing, tick. If that’s the case, then take your Blue Mind experience to Mexico and go wild swimming and free-diving in the world’s largest underwater cave system.
Let’s face it, it’s nice to have some new experiences to tick off on holiday, too, so with bucket-list pyramids, a visit to the Mayan chocolate museum and the chance to learn the secrets of the Yucatan cuisine with a three course cooking class, you’re sure to come back feeling like a new person.
A bit of downtime
Water makes us feel calm, as our bodies are in what Nichols calls a ‘soft fascination’. Put simply, this means that our brains are stimulated by and interested in the water, but not overwhelmed by an overload of information or senses.
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With that in mind, why not leave the adrenaline rush and awe-inspiring brain triggers behind, and just give your brain a bit of time off?
Holiday without the travel
We know that the UK’s commitment to the ‘staycation’ is on the rise, with almost three in five people opting to stick to this country for their break, up by 2% from 2017. Furthermore, 42% of ‘millennial’ men and women don’t even take their annual leave.
If you want to stay local, or fit your holidays in around the evenings and weekends, you can still feel the benefits of the Blue Mind mentality without breaking the bank or using up your precious holiday entitlement.
Whether it’s kayaking down the London canals to a brewery, or paddle boarding in the Docklands before enjoying a gourmet burger, we’ve got a number of short break options for you to explore – and, best of all, they take place in the space of a few hours rather than a few days.
Images: Flash Pack, Shutterstock