TikTok’s blue mind theory explains why we feel better by the ocean

Published Jun 19, 2024


In our fast-paced world, it's easy to feel worn out. The constant stress and rush to get somewhere, chasing goals and never quite being in the moment, can wear us down over time.

This daily hustle takes a toll on our mental and physical health.

Doctors and health experts often suggest ways to manage this everyday stress, like using breathing techniques to calm down, taking walks, limiting screen time and meditating.

These methods help in regulating our nervous system but there's always something new on the horizon.

Recently, TikTok users have been promoting the blue mind theory, a new wellness trend that promises to surpass traditional stress-relief methods.

This viral concept has caught the interest of millions, with over 15 million views on TikTok, highlighting the powerful impact of water on our well-being.

One of the most popular videos on this topic is by creator @ronjaedsmo.

In her video, she poses a thought-provoking question: “Have you ever wondered why you seem to feel better when you’re near the ocean?”

@ronjaedsmo Replying to @ronjaedsmo ♬ September (Instrumental) - Sparky Deathcap

According to the blue mind theory, the answer lies in the presence of water. Being near or in water can significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, help you feel more grounded and present and even promote better sleep.

Imagine sitting by a lakeside, hearing the gentle lapping of waves, or walking along a beach with your feet in the sand - the blue mind theory suggests that such experiences are the ultimate stress relievers.

This simple yet profound idea might just be the key to a healthier, happier life.

What is the blue mind theory?

The blue mind theory has recently become popular on social media but it was first introduced by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols in 2015.

Nichols observed that being in or near water can help your mind enter a calm, meditative state.

Being near water releases endorphines known as happy hormones. Picture: Screenshot/TikTok

A "blue mind" is that blissful, relaxed feeling you get when you’re close to water. Whether you’re by the ocean, floating in a pool, walking along a river, or gazing at a lake, the presence of water can make you feel peaceful and stress-free.

Why does water make us feel good?

According to research water has a soothing effect on our brains. The sight and sound of water, such as the rhythmic crashing of ocean waves or the gentle river flow, can help quiet our minds.

This calming effect can make it easier to relax, think clearly and reduce stress.

Reduced stress: Spending time near water can help lower stress levels and make you feel more at ease.

Mental clarity: A peaceful environment can enhance your ability to focus and think clearly.

Emotional well-being: Being near water can improve your mood and overall well-being.

Easy ways to achieve a blue mind

  • Visit the beach: Spend time walking along the shoreline, listening to the waves, or simply sitting and enjoying the view.
  • Relax in a pool: Take a dip in a pool, float on the surface, and let your worries drift away.
  • Walk by a river: Find a walking path along a river and take a leisurely stroll while observing the flowing water.
  • Lake time: Whether it’s sitting by the shore or taking a boat out on the water, spending time by a lake can bring you peace.

A recent Bustle article sheds light on why many of us flock to water for relaxation. According to psychologist Reena B. Patel, just a trip to the beach or spending 20 minutes near a river or pool can significantly boost your mood and well-being.

The sight of blue water can make you feel happier and uplifted.

Therapist Rachel Goldberg adds that water's relaxing effect has scientific backing. Using fMRI imaging, researchers found that being in natural environments like near water reduces activity in the brain area responsible for anxious overthinking.

Watery sights and sounds, such as a glistening lake or crashing waves, also lower stress hormone levels.

Goldberg explains that fond memories associated with water can release feel-good endorphins, making you happier. Relaxing with water helps your body transition from "fight or flight" mode to "rest and digest", thereby improving your heart rate and reducing tension.

This natural relaxation can also enhance sleep quality. When your mind and body are at ease, falling asleep becomes easier, which is why many white noise machines feature water sounds.

So, if you need some R&R, try spending time near water for a calming break.