Searching for sea glass could be the one addiction that is actually good for your health
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, heat-shaped rocks, or Cape May diamonds is something that is so enjoyable that it can become quite addictive. It's such and exciting experience to find that gorgeous piece of sea glass, or that perfect shell on the beach, but there's also 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, as your mind quiets down, as you start breathing deeply of the salty air and stressful thoughts start to drift away. Sense of time disappears. When that 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" that I speak of 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. When you are being mindful you are paying attention to what is happening around you and inside you as you relax, 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, helping to reduce depression and lowering blood pressure and more, but it 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. It's being near the water and being outside in that beautiful, natural environment, that mindfulness and quiet contemplation becomes easy and 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 that I saw on social media that says "There is no wi-fi at the beach but I guarantee you'll find a better connection there."
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 oceans waves that people find to be 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 my 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 walking 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 sensed 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 almost an involuntary reaction to take a deep, deep breath of air- I am compelled to do so and it is instantly relaxing. The shore air is uniquely scented for you know you are near 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 smell on my clothes, I could close my eyes and really be right back there on the beach!
Our sight has obvious implications for our enjoyment at the shore for the beauty of the coastline certainly works its magic. The positive affects 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, reduce blood-pressure and lower heart rates. In fact, "nature-deficit disorder" is a term used to describe someone who may be suffering from not getting their healthy dosage of time spent enjoying nature. And that just shows how powerful and healthy it can be to spend time in a place like the seashore, and to participate in a hobby that makes us feel wonderful.
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 don't feel guilty about taking this time for yourself because you are most certainly improving your emotional state and your well-being. Searching for sea glass can be a fun, addicting hobby and it also may help to improve your health. Even if you've come home empty-handed, you have 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 also founder of Sea Glass Searcher's Club- an online beachcombing boutique with unique gifts for the beachcomber in your life.
Her motto is "find your peace" because she believes that the seashore and beachcombing are 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 see a health professional for any illness you may be dealing with.