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Why a Beach Trip Might Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

August 25, 2022

As the dog days of summer begin to wind down and the school year begins to gear up, squeezing in time at the beach can definitely help your mental health. A significant body of research shows that time in nature is good for mental health. But recent studies show that specifically, time at the beach is really good for you. Carla Schnitzlein, DO, psychiatrist and medical director of Natchaug Hospital, said that being in nature provides “grounding and mindfulness. It keeps you in the here and now.” > Connect with the Behavioral Health Network Being by the ocean complements that, she said, by adding the salt air, the sound of the waves and the buoyancy of the water. “You're surrounded by sensations, and you're using your sense of smell, taste, hearing, touch. You are grounding to all of those stimuli, and when you actually go into the water the effects are further enhanced," said Dr. Schnitzlein. Alternatively, fresh water also has calming effects, Dr. Schnitzlein said, for those who don’t have ready access to the shoreline. “When you are hit with all these experiences, your brain can focus in a new way,” she said. > Want more health news? Text MoreLife to 31996 to sign up for text alerts The outdoors provides three basics of mental wellbeing, she noted:

  • Being grounded in the moment.
  • Being mindful of what’s around you.
  • Getting exercise.
All this doesn’t mean you need to start open water swimming or climb a mountain, Dr. Schnitzlein said. “Sometimes I have patients who tell me they tried and ‘couldn’t do it,’ and it turns out they were just doing too much. Sit on your front porch and listen to the birds. Sit on the grass and feel that tactile experience. Walk to the mailbox and back or around the block. And wear your sunscreen.