What is it about the water that many of us find so cathartic? From the tradition of baptism which spans across countless religions to bathing in the Ganges, there is something holy about immersing ourselves in the water that makes us feel cleansed and renewed. Its likely that the feeling to immerse ourselves in water is intuitive, it is just the way nature intended, however bathing- specifically in the ocean may actually pose some scientifically backed benefits for your health both internally and externally. As the saying goes “the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea” but what exactly is it about salt that can alleviate our day to day stresses and elevate or skin health?
Salt water as a form of therapy dates back to the 12th century from the use of Halo-therapy all the way through to the 18th and 19th century when bathing in the ocean was prescribed by doctors to help cure conditions such as “melancholy” and "spleen”.
Salt water is abundantly rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium. These minerals pose great benefits for the skin by boosting your skins healing process and diminishing any bacteria that proliferates the onset of acne and skin inflammation. Furthermore, the ocean can provide high levels of sodium, chloride, sulphate and magnesium making the ocean greatly beneficial for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis as well as promoting muscle recovery and the release of muscle tension.
Not only can the ocean alleviate the body physically but jumping into the ocean for a swim has been shown to noticeably decrease stress and regulate hormones. One way this is achieved is by the absorption of magnesium through the skin. Once magnesium is absorbed into the skin it has the ability convert tryptophan (which is an amino acid essential for Vitamin B3 and DNA production), into the neurotransmitter serotonin. The release of the infamous hormone serotonin can then trigger feelings of satisfaction, deep relaxation and feelings of happiness. Our internal state can be further benefited through the alternated breathing patters we take on when we are swimming. These breathing patterns actually have the ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which encourages “rest and digest” actions in the body in comparison to our sympathetic nervous system which drives our “fight or flight” responses to stress.
Ok, but I hate swimming I hear you say. Fear not, you are still able to reap the rewards of being in the ocean even if you just float. The weightlessness that your body feels when floating in salt water stimulates an overall calming effect on the body and triggers the slowing down of brain waves. Specially, floating in the ocean can encourage the body to enter the ‘theta state’ which has been associated with feelings of overall well-being, increased creativity, and decreased feeling of stress, anger and anxiety. Furthermore, it has been shown that floating in the ocean can significantly decrease your chances of stress-related illnesses such as heart disease and stroke while alleviating mental conditions. Isn’t that just magic?
Ready to take the plunge? If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of salt bathing and are curious about to how to implement it into your weekly routine without going to beach, try taking an Epsom salt bath or using a float tank. This may also do just the trick! But of course, nothing beats mother nature herself.
Lots of love, Marissa xx