Did you know that a trip to the seaside can help cure the blues? The feel-good factor of a beach holiday isn’t purely due to its association with time off and relaxation. Increasing evidence proves that time by the sea does wonders for your health – from lowering stress levels to enhancing sleep. So whether you choose to pad along the shoreline, hit the waves or simply watch the sunset beside the ocean, you’re naturally boosting your wellbeing.
Blue health breaks in Cornwall are increasing in popularity as people make a beeline to the coast to reap the health benefits of time by the sea. It turns out that a trip to the beach is just what the doctor ordered. Here are some of the ways to benefit from the ‘big blue’ on your next coastal holiday.
You don’t even have to step foot in the ocean to feel the flush of its powers. Just taking a walk and breathing in the sea air helps lift your mood, as negatively charged ions help to absorb oxygen and balance serotonin levels in the brain. So, as you gaze back to Padstow and the Doom Bar from the rugged promontory of Stepper Point, it’s not just the eye-popping views that leave you feeling in a better mood.
Going one sandy step further and playing in the waves stimulates the vagus nerve, calms our fight-or-flight response and releases dopamine (our happy hormone) in bucket loads. So whether you try surfing, belly boarding or just frolic in the whitewater, it’ll make you feel less stressed, more alert and better equipped to deal with the demands of everyday life. Based on the outskirts of Padstow, Waves Surf School will kit you out with everything you need to master the art of surfing, and take you to the best waves of the day for your ability.
There’s good reason to join the surge in wild swimming and brave the tidal pools at Trevone and Treyarnon, or dip a toe in the water at Daymer Bay. Aside from the feel-good factor of head-to-toe immersion in nature’s watery playground, coldwater dipping boosts the immune system, can alleviate anxiety and could even delay the onset of degenerative diseases such as dementia. How? Plunging into cold water activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and relaxing the body. A study by the University of Cambridge found that people who regularly cold water dip have higher levels of a so-called ‘cold-shock’ protein in their blood, which helps form synapses and can slow the onset of dementia.
Don’t fancy jumping in the surf to experience the calming effect of the waves? Simply watching the ocean brings us back into the moment, reducing stress levels by distracting us from internal and negative thought patterns as our focus is drawn to the movement and light. This mindfulness decreases stress and snaps us into a different, more positive mindset. Whether you sit on a beachside bench at Polzeath, or find a perch on the rock beside Booby’s Bay, there are plenty of wave-lashed beaches and places to stay close to Padstow where you can pause and be mesmerised by the movement on the ocean.
A huge problem of our modern world is that our existence has become more and more disconnected from nature. Away from screens and stimulated by the natural environment, the beach is a fantastic place to reconnect with nature, ourselves and others. Whether you hit the waves, light the barbecue or hunt for crabs and starfish in the rockpools, the shoreline provides an engaging and exciting environment where you can ditch the technology-led lifestyle and bond with family, friends and nature. With nothing between you and the beach at Gull Cottage in Porthcothan, it’s the perfect location for rock pooling, wild swimming and connecting with friends and family beside the sea.
So now you have some ideas on ways to enjoy blue health activities in Cornwall, here’s a recap on the benefits.
Being by the sea promotes better mental health. So, if you’re feeling a bit blue, a trip to the seaside is just what you need for a natural pick-me-up. A study has shown that people living within 1km of the sea have optimal mental health and that visits to blue spaces including the beach can reduce the need for antidepressants. The colour blue is also linked with serenity, so when you’re surrounded by water at seaside retreats such as The Old Lifeboat Station in Hawker’s Cove, you’ll be lapping up the calming hues of the ocean and the wide-open skies.
Being by the sea naturally inspires you to be active and boost your fitness. With a line-up of beach-side surf schools and water sports centres, you can easily dip into all manner of activities from a coasteering safari with Cornish Rock Tors from Port Gaverne, to a paddleboarding experience with Trevone Bay Adventures. But you don’t need to embark on a full-throttle adventure to raise your heart rate and get moving – it can be as simple as padding barefoot along the shoreline, or striking out on the coast path to find a picnic spot.
Being beside the sea brings a healthy glow to our cheeks. Saltwater is rich in nourishing minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium – many of which have powerful anti-inflammatory, skin-healing effects. So not only are we glowing from hours of fun on the beach, time in the sea can also soothe sensitive and dry skin, improve the symptoms of eczema and reduce allergic skin reactions. Patter down to the beach from Pentreath in Treyarnon or feel the glow of the briny air from your sea-view decking.
Ever wondered why you sleep better after a day at the beach? Well, it’s not just because we’re worn out from a day of fun in the outdoors. Sea air is generally cleaner, with higher levels of oxygen, which can help to improve sleep. It also contains negative ions – oxygen atoms with an extra electron – which boost your body’s ability to absorb oxygen and help balance serotonin levels, subsequently aiding deep and restful sleep. Many of our holiday cottages, such as The Croft at Harlyn, are so close to the sea that you can listen to the waves with your head on the pillow.
Being by the sea and realising the ocean’s influence on us, as well as our influence over the ocean, encourages us to protect and improve the environment we love. Simple actions such as beach cleans, realising the importance of leaving just footprints, and the desire to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, can all be aroused by reconnecting with nature on a holiday beside the sea. When you stay at Moonrakers, join in with one of the regular beach cleans on Mawgan Porth beach and feel great about taking care of the environment that makes you happy.
Cornwall is the perfect destination for a Blue Health break beside the sea. Harbour Holidays has an array of holiday cottages where you can boost your health and wellbeing by the beach.
You can also check out some of our suggestions for wellbeing breaks for 2023 here.
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