It’s summer and whether you hit the beach, a lake, or relax by your pond chances are you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. This is mainly due to water and its healing properties. From emotional health to physical health there are many benefits to being in or near water.
Water is the most abundant compound on Earth, covering over 70% of the planet. Water has the power of continuous change; it crystalizes and freezes when it’s cold, it steams in heat, and ripples when touched. It comprises between 65% and 78% of our body (varying with age), making up over 70% of our brain, heart, skin, muscles, kidneys, lungs, and liver. We are water in human form and it’s understandable why we are so affected by its presence.
Water itself reacts to any irritation. According to the late Rustom Roy, a prominent materials scientist and professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, whatever water hears, sees, and feels becomes a catalyst for its change as it copies, memorizes, and transports information. Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto conducted a water crystal project to confirm this. In this study, Emoto played music, displayed words, and prayed to water while it was freezing, and when the water was frozen it created crystal shapes distinct to each stimuli. According to Emoto, “The result was that we always observed beautiful crystals after giving good words, playing good music, and showing, playing, or offering pure prayer to water. On the other hand, we observed disfigured crystals in the opposite situation. Moreover, we never observed identical crystals.” This may be the reason people have specific reactions to different environments. However, water or its presence seems to have a natural calming effect that helps to ground human beings.
Water has many roots in spiritual symbolism, but water has long been thought of as an element with medicinal and therapeutic qualities, now known as hydrotherapy. As far back as 2000 B.C., the Ancient Egyptians practiced bathing rituals in hopes of curing ailments. In the Old Testament, people soaked in mineral waters for physical healing. The Ancient Greeks used water as a healing agent. Victorian doctors also used sea air as a cure for an assortment of ailments. Now doctors are recommending hydrotherapy for physical ailments like back injuries/issues, faster wound healing, and relieving painful arthritis. Heroes on the Water, an organization dedicated to helping veterans, deploys kayak fishing as a way to help treat PTSD in veterans and promote reintegration, rehabilitation, and relaxation. Wounded vets overcome obstacles and discover a peaceful place to play.
As for the mental health benefits, many can attest to how water is emotionally therapeutic. There is a lack of “blue state” research, which is how water cognitively and emotionally affects human beings. But Professor Michael Depledge, formerly the chief scientist for the Environment Agency before founding the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH), launched the Blue Gym project in 2012 to study the health and wellbeing benefits of aquatic environments. In a recent study, using data from Natural England with anonymous self-reported health information by postcode, a team from ECEHH were able to see if health varied according to proximity to water. Depledge concluded that, "For the first time, we have…found that the closer you live to the English coast the healthier you are. There was some evidence that other aquatic environments helped too." Mathew White, a University of Plymouth psychologist, has been studying the neurocognitive effects of water. He also found that better health was associated with proximity to water as well as a restorative and calm mood. In general, these studies in the U.K. demonstrate that both natural and built scenes containing water are associated with higher perceived rejuvenation than those without water.
Health practitioners and hospitals are recognizing the role of water in well-being. Modern hospital designs integrate nature to promote maximum healing and cost-effectiveness. Interiors and exteriors include fountains, fish tanks, and waterfalls, all designed to be nurturing of and relaxing for patients. Science suggests the familiar feeling of peacefulness we get when standing by water, noting that it may even change our perception of time as well as influence how we feel about ourselves and others, as suggested by studies at Stanford University. Wallace J. Nichols calls this the “Blue Mind”. The “Blue Mind” shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do. Nichols believes, “Our brains switch into a different mode which can involve mind-wandering, creativity, and sleep, which are all known to be important to health, resilience, and productivity. Psychologists refer to water's changing uniformity as putting us in a state of 'soft fascination,' which can be highly restorative." In another recent study, German researchers concluded that even being near human-made water features, such as city-center fountains, ponds, and canals, "induces [restorative] experiences [and] creates meaning."
Incorporating water into your everyday life has an immense beneficial value. The research has shown that you can be physically and mentally healthier by being in or near water. Adding a pond or spending more time by your pond will help you relax and rejuvenate. At TotalPond, we can help you build a tranquil pond to help restore you to your optimal health.