I am a water person. I’m also a dog person (but not a wet dog person!).
We divide ourselves up into dog person, cat person, water person.
But wait… lest there be on more way to divide us, please know that we are all water people.
You might be shaking your head no, but neuroscientists know better. Our brains, hearts, and planet are all made up of over 70% water. This deep biological connection to water means that, as humans, we love it.
Our brains are hardwired to recognize the evolutionary purpose of water and our connection to it. This makes sense because we can't actually live all that long WITHOUT water. When we are in, on, under, or near water our brains reward us with what marine biologist, (in his book by the same name), Wallace J. Nichols calls Blue Mind. Just coming close to the water’s edge floods our brains with calming neurochemicals, reducing our cortisol (and our stress levels), and increasing our capacity for awe.
What is Blue Mind?
Blue Mind is this beautifully relaxed meditative state that we slip into in the presence of water. It’s the foil to what we most of us experience in daily life which is red mind.
What is Red Mind?
Red mind is the crazy overstimulation of our current culture. It’s the dinging of your phone, traffic jams, deadlines. It’s the overconnected, anxious state most of us are swimming in these days.
A lot of us spend our working days in the red, but when we are floating in an ocean or a lake, our brains and bodies get a break. A true mental, physical break, auditory, visual and somatic break.
The outside noise is drastically reduced, the hundreds of muscles that are normally engaged in just keeping us upright relax as gravity takes over. All of this coupled with the soft sensory experiences of the breeze or the chirps of a bird that have even more profound benefits on calming our nervous system.
If you think back to those old 80’s commercials, this is not your brain frizzle fried on drugs, this is your brain on water.
And as if we’re at a tribal dance party, our brains subconsciously love synchronizing with the rhythmic sound of the ocean or the rustling of a river. Even just 15 minutes of recorded sounds of ocean waves, rivers or canoe paddles have shown to reduce pain in cancer patients by nearly 30%.
Anecdotally, I’ve always known that being near the water feels amazing. I was just discussing with my dear friend, Beth, the great lengths that I’ll go to for some extensive water time every year.
I grew up on a lake, my parent’s first date was on a boat, and I’ve written haikus to my bathtub.
Even though I live in the dry state of Colorado, I spend as much time in the summer, as I can, on my paddleboard.
I heart water.
What does this have to do with photowalking?
Poets and painters have long known the creative benefits of the ocean, writing their tributes directly to their favorite body of water. Everyone from Einstein to Melville to Beyonce have talked about the impact that water has on their creative thinking.
And if this now has you wondering what time golden hour is on your favorite body of water, I’m here to remind you that this blog is less about water as a prop in your next photoshoot and more about water, as a nutrient, in your daily life to wash away your worries.
It’s the aquatic reset we ALL need.
And it’s a beautiful way to reboot our creative selves by unplugging. It’s actually a plus that iPhones aren’t actually waterproof, otherwise, we’d probably never stop indulging that tug to constantly check our phones even while swimming!
Take time for some blue mind this summer. And take creative advantage of the blue mind reset after you do. Getting your best ideas in the shower is not a coincidence. Those negatively charged ions pouring out of the faucet truly have a creative effect on your brain.
Now I know that COVID-19 has made reaching your preferred body of water more difficult these days. While being in a natural setting with a body of water is best, work with what you have.
Take a Bath
Your bathtub (and mine) provide a blue mind experience. I love my tub and have written haikus to it. I even loved it when it was pepto pink and tiny and not even remotely as luxurious as it is now. Submerging in the water was the point, not critiquing the original design aesthetic of previous homeowners.
Jump in a pool
Domesticated water can still give you a blue mind experience. Yes, there might be a little more neurological noise at the public pool, but submerging yourself under the water still reduces all of that outside stimulation and gives your brain that zen-like state.
Lounge by a river
There are creeks, rivers, and ponds in every state. Find one. The babbling noises of a creek or a river provide even more relaxation (and those negative ions like in a shower). Bring bug spray if you need it, and be ready to relax.
Sit by a fountain
This is an underutilized resource for private conversations and increased creative thinking in the middle of red minded cities. My high school had a great fountain in the middle of the campus. I’m sure we didn’t even realize the benefit it had on calming our angsty teenage brains. One of the coolest fountains I’ve ever seen is in the Detroit airport.
No need to bump against the throngs of people say at Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend or the spring break crowds of Miami Beach. Stay safe and socially distanced, and enjoy the massive brain benefits of some blue mind this summer.
Warmly-- Lizzie Larock
Creator of Gratitude Gravy, The Life Feast, and the Photo Walk Guide
PS I never miss an opportunity to play by the water or pretend I'm in a Hitchcock film. If you do take a few photos of your experience, please share them with me! #photowalkwithlizzie or tag me @larockstar on Instagram.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, download my free Photowalk guide and start photo walking with me and over 9000 other people this summer!
Just pop your email address in here and you'll receive my FREE photowalk guide.