Blue Mind Theory

Posted on February 26, 2024 by Colette Goh

The Healing Power of Water: The Blue Mind Movement

Close your eyes and think about where you escape to when you want to relax.

If you said something like a beach vacation, a walk by the river, a weekend at the lake, or even a bath, then this article might explain why. 

For centuries people have flocked to water - ocean, lakes, rivers, hot springs - to rest and relax. You see this ritual in many traditions like Nordic ice baths, Turkish Hammam, and Japanese Onsens. Seeking solace in or near bodies of water has long been recognized as therapy and a way to heal the mind and body. But if you’ve ever wondered why and how applicable this is to modern life, read on to learn more about the Blue Mind Theory.

Blue Mind is described as the “mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on or under water” says Wallace J. Nichols. He’s the marine biologist who wrote the well-known book “Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do” in 2014.

His research showed that being close to or in water provides a long list of benefits for our mind and body. This includes an increased sense of well-being and happiness, and lowered stress, anxiety, heart, and breathing rate. Nichols proposes that Blue Mind is the solution to “Red Mind” - or the stressed, over-stimulated state that most of us have experienced in modern life. 

Why does water impact us in this way?

Being around or near water chemically affects our brain and how we feel. It can increase neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Colloquially, these neurotransmitters are referred to as the happiness hormone, the feel-good hormone, and the cuddle hormone. It can also decrease cortisol and stress. 

Bodies of water can also improve your psychological well-being by causing involuntary attention. In psychology, this is defined as attention captured by a prominent or salient stimulus, like in your peripheral vision, rather than focused by a person (American Psychology Association). When you subconsciously admire the shimmering waves of the ocean, involuntary attention can boost your problem-solving skills and creativity.

Now not only can it impact our well-being, but it can also help us be kinder humans. How? The beauty of water can be awe-inspiring, which expands a person’s compassion and empathy towards others.

How to Experience Blue Mind Theory In Real Life

If you want to experience Blue Mind for stress relief and mental health benefits, we have a few suggestions. You can start small by elevating your everyday habits, or you can experience Blue Mind in a more full-bodied adventurous way.

To start with, it can be as easy as grabbing a book and a blanket and heading to your nearest lake for a few hours of reading. Or the next time your friends want to meet for dinner, why don’t you suggest a picnic and head to the beach instead? And if you are a dog owner, try mixing up your walks. Take your pup for a stroll along a river. Once you get hooked, try to seek out these experiences regularly and build them into your routine. Even if life can be overwhelming, remember that drinking water or having a bath is an easy and accessible way to calm your mind.

Now we are biased, but we believe the best way to experience Blue Mind is through paddle sports. Not only can you calm your mind and connect with nature, but you can explore, get a sweat on, and see the world.

With just one Paddle Board, you have so many options. You can practice yoga on our Pioneer Pro, a wide inflatable board with a brushed traction pad so you can downward dog to your heart’s desire. Or you can go on a sunset paddle with a friend, connect your boards, and float and admire nature’s beauty. If you prefer touring, our Voyager is the one for you. Its progressive pointed nose, wood finish, and cutting bow easily shed water during choppy conditions. 

If you love Kayaking, you can go the distance with our paddle board kayak hybrids. If you love to camp inland, why not try your first overnight kayaking trip? You can swim or snorkel in little coves or tucked-away islands that you didn’t even know existed. See marine life firsthand. 

Do you love to go fishing? If so, our Switch might be the one for you. Its pointed nose is built to cut through tough waters and it has additional storage space so you can bring all the gear you need.

If you and your friends love to have a drink and catch up, why not take it to the water? With Floats you can relax, and enjoy your favorite beverage with your feet up and floating in nature.

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to live near the ocean, and you love the adrenaline rush and thrill of the waves, how about trying surfing? Our soft top surfboards are the perfect entry boards for beginners. For example, our Nugget is a short but powerful board that lets you freely surf down the line and also on open face waves.

The amazing thing about paddle sports is that because you’re so focused on the activity, you are fully present and in the moment. You can practice mindfulness easily as you naturally detach and release the stresses in your daily life.

Remember, a key part of achieving Blue Mind is getting offline. So log off, put away your phone, and immerse yourself in nature. Enjoy the color, the sound, and the feeling of the water. Soak in the calm and peace and embrace the ocean or water as therapy for your mind, body, and soul.

Better in Balance

Here at ISLE, our mission is to inspire and equip you for a life that’s Better in Balance through adventure on the water. And we’ve been working hard on spreading this mission for the past 20 years. Now you can see why we’re so passionate about Blue Mind Theory - because it encompasses taking care of the mind, body, and soul. We believe that each person can find solace, peace, connection, and joy by immersing themselves in nature and taking to the water.