Written By VOYA Co-Founder, Kira Walton
Well I know the summer is over but I hope you’ve all had your season’s worth of sun salt and sand…
Yes I know that this is nearly quite impossible to do in Ireland, but I know for a fact that it wasn’t quite that hard this year. There were quite a few nights and days that the sun did gate crash our amazing cumulus clouds in 2016. I hope you put your sun factor on but most importantly I hope you splashed about in the water.
I believe a lot of people think I am a surfer or can surf but I have tried more than a couple of times and have been unsuccessful and I have tried bodyboarding and was good but not “good enough”. But what I love to do in the sea is to body surf. This is a sport that is, well, ignored and dismissed as just “having a bit of fun”. If that’s is what most people think of it, well that’s great. Because I assure you it’s great fun!
It’s not all fun and games, body surfing is well regarded as a competitive sport and not to be laughed at. For me, one of the differences between body surfing and surfing is that I can read the waves better and catch them better. This makes it easier to ride along the wave with the whole length of my body using my outstretched arm and hand like a rudder or the nose of a surf board. Body surfing is a great excuse to get into the sea, something we should all be doing whenever we can. Here are some reasons why.
Therapeutic Benefits of Swimming in the Sea
Just walking bare foot in the sand in the water or on the beach is a natural form of exfoliation. Magnesium and other elements in seawater can help slough off dead skin cells. Walking in the sand is also a great workout! I found that out last weekend, while in the soft sand trying to keep up with my Elfin dog. When I was a young child I suffered from eczema and always found that when holidaying by the coast that this would subside. I also had very bad Asthma. I couldn’t run for the school bus and I had to take out my inhaler. However, just by being put near the seawater helped with my breathing. A relief to my parents I can tell you, and me!
Being by the coast or taking a walk on the beach can significantly lower your stress levels. Both the sun and the waves combine to completely relax your body, release you from your aches and free you from your daily stresses. Not only is serotonin almost immediately released when you arrive on the beach, (serotonin is a key hormone for relaxation and happiness), but the sound and visuals of the beach and ocean are so soothing and peaceful. Getting your daily dose of vitamin D is so easy when you step out onto the sand and paddle at the water’s edge.
It only takes ten minutes to get your daily average required intake of vitamin D, when exposed to daylight and the sun. One of the most essential vitamins in our diets is vitamin D; however very little of it is actually absorbed through the consumption of foods. Yes, you may have vitamin D enriched milk, but it’s often not enough for our bodies to absorb the appropriate amount on a daily basis. Fortunately, spending just ten minutes outside in the sun can actually allow a person to absorb their daily dose of vitamin D directly through their skin.
Being at the Beach is Your Personal Spa Treatment
The beach and ocean water truly has an amazingly positive effect on the overall health and appearance of skin.
I’m not talking about baking yourself in the sun until you’re leathery tanned (please wear sunscreen!).
Instead, we’re focusing on the antibacterial and detoxification properties of the elements.
- Exfoliate – the sand does a wondrous job exfoliating our feet, hands, and body. Nothing removes dead skin cells quite like course bits of sand!
- Detoxify – once the warm sun opens up our pores, the salt water is then able to go in and pull out the toxins. No more blemishes, uneven skin, or excess oils!
- Antibacterial – next, the iodine and salt in the water work to completely destroy bacteria and fungi on your skin that causes breakouts.
- Inhale and Exhale- breathe in as much clean fresh coastal air as you can.
The natural inclination to inhale deeply when you first step on the beach is actually an automatic response to the quality of the air. Individuals with asthma, COPD(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), or breathing difficulties will find that it’s far easier to breathe when on the beach, than almost anywhere else. This is because not only are the chest muscles surrounding the lungs relaxed when a person steps onto the beach, but the air itself is actually charged with negative ions that work to increase oxygen absorption in the lungs.
“There was a natural gravitational pull for me to the west coast of Ireland for this reason. It was nothing to do with the amazing guy I met, fell in love with and who lured me to the wild Atlantic coast.”
As I grow older, as we all do, I find myself being more mindful and practicing meditation more frequently. And just wanting that little bit of quiet time out. Which I can receive so easily by taking a light stroll by the sea and sitting just listening to the waves lap in and out on the shore. Forever there, forever constant, never changing and so relaxing and de-stressing. Whether you’re religious or not, heading to the beach can put you in touch with your spirit and consciousness.
The vastness of the ocean, the expansive horizon and the beauty of the surroundings makes you truly appreciate nature. Additionally, it’s when we’re so surrounded by nature and beauty that we can feel at peace and release ourselves from the daily stresses and troubles in the modernized world. Practicing a bit of meditation or yoga on the beach is highly recommended as there is no better place in the world to truly feel at one with the earth and ourselves, than by the sea.
The beach’s magnetism is so strong that even if you got to go out and feel the sand between your toes once this year you have benefited from a free therapeutic resource. We Irish are an island nation and should try hard to get out and embrace our beautiful coastal waters, but be safe!
“I always believed that I would live beside the sea… I was lucky that I found my way.”
P.S. it’s not always sunshine 🙂
Kira G Walton