Searching for sea glass could be the one addiction that is actually good for you

Sea glass collectors know the feeling only too well.  It's that all-consuming anticipation of the next beach visit, with the hopes of finding that rare treasure.  Beachcombing for sea glass, or seashells, driftwood, heart-shaped rocks, or Cape May diamonds is something that is so enjoyable it can become quite addictive.  It's such an exciting experience to find that gorgeous piece of sea glass, or that perfect shell on the beach, but there's also so much more going on out there than what meets the eye and it just may have a very positive effect on our well-being.  When we are out there on the beach doing our thing, looking for treasures, we are reaping the benefits of the seashore in ways that give any spa a run for its money! 

There is this thing that I call the "beachcombing zone" which refers to the state of mind that materializes when you begin to relax, your mind quiets down, you breathe deeply of the salty air and stress begins to drift away.  Time seems to disappear.  When this happens you are in the "zone" and it really doesn't matter if you even find what you've come to the beach to search for because being in that "beachcombing zone" is what is immensely beneficial to your well-being and is highly restorative for your body and your soul.

This "zone" really refers to a "mindful" state because beachcombing has a meditative quality to it.  Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment in an intentional and non-judgmental way in order to alleviate symptoms of stress.  When you are practicing mindfulness you are paying attention to what is happening around you in the present moment, very much like what happens when you are in the "beachcombing zone".  There are many studies that link the emotional well-being derived from meditation to improvements in anxiety levels and helping to reduce depression and lowering blood pressure and more.  But this is not an easy thing to do and many people struggle to attain that deeply relaxing, contemplative state of mind.  But at the coast it is so much easier.  Being near the water in that beautiful, natural environment enhances mindfulness and quiet contemplation is easy to achieve.  There are many reasons why this is the case.  Some of these reasons have to do with our five senses.  The coastal environment literally engulfs all of our senses in its alchemistic blend of salt, sand and water.  Our senses provide that direct connection to our emotional health.  It reminds me of a quote I came upon on social media that says "There is no wi-fi at the beach, but I guarantee you'll find a better connection".

When we are beachcombing, the symphony of sound that greets our ears has a lot to do with getting us to that relaxing "zone".  Studies of noise patterns have shown that it's the predictable patterns like the rhythmic ocean waves that people find to most soothing.  Loudness, sharpness and roughness are characteristics of the types of noises that are known to be bothersome, and the shore contains none of these.  Wave sounds have a lulling affect that bolsters our contentedness and relaxation.  There is a special beach that I frequent when I want to do some beachcombing and its unique sounds are part of the enjoyment.  This beach is usually scattered with millions of tiny, wave-rounded pebbles and when the tide is particularly gentle as it sometimes is at dawn (my favorite time to beachcomb) the soft wash of water through the rocks and then back again as it retreats makes a tinkling sound that is fantastic to hear.  It is impossible to feel stress when you are in that environment!!

Our sense of smell plays a very important factor in our quest for relaxation.  Our olfactory system is directly connected to our limbic system in the brain.  This system is responsible for controlling our mood, memory, behavior and emotion.  Research suggests that our sense of smell is the most powerful trigger for emotional memory of all five senses and is the basis behind the idea of using aroma therapy for alleviating stress and boosting mood and energy.  When I arrive at the beach it is an automatic reaction to take a deep, deep breath of air- I am compelled to do so and it instantly relaxes.  The shore air is uniquely scented for know you're near the water just by the way it smells.  When smells are pleasant in this way, they have the power to erase stress.  When I arrive back home and happen to catch a whiff of salt air on my clothes, I can close my eyes and really be right back there on the beach!

Our sight has obvious implications for our enjoyment of the shore for the beauty of the coastline certainly works its magic.  The positive effects of spending time in nature that we find pleasing have been well studied and proven.  Research reveals how viewing scenes of nature can reduce stress, blood-pressure and lower heart-rates.  Nature-deficit disorder is a term that is used to describe someone who may be suffering the effects of insufficient quantities of time spent in nature.  And that just shows how powerfully healthy it can be spending time beachcombing at the shore.

No matter whether your collection of sea glass or seashells or any other beach-found collection is large or small, you almost certainly can't wait to get back there to collect some more!  And you shouldn't feel guilty about taking this time for yourself because you are improving your emotional state and well-being.  Searching for sea glass is fun and addicting, but it also could help to improve your health so it doesn't matter if you've come home empty-handed because you've indeed gained something valuable: peace of mind.

Beachcombing is where you find your peace.

Written by Cindy Bilbao

Cindy Bilbao is author of Sea Glass Treasures From The Tide, and the Official Sea Glass Searcher's Guide. She is the founder of Sea Glass Searcher's Club, an online beachcombing boutique carrying unique gifts for the beachcomber in your life.

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Her motto is "find your peace" because she believes that beachcombing is the best sort of therapy for the soul.

The opinions found in this blog are not meant to be considered medical advice or treatment in any way.  The author is not a medical care giver or trained in any medical fields.  She maintains that you should seek a health professional for any concerns you may have with your health.