Why We Love to Be Around Water During Recovery
My journey of recovery has taken me to places that I could never have imagined. From extraordinary retreat experiences to the countless unique faces and personalities that have crossed my path, I have been fortunate enough to learn things about myself, others, and recovery that have changed my life forever.
In fact, these experiences have made me even more devoted to sharing the knowledge, techniques, and ideas I have learned over the years in hopes that they can help other people find and maintain recovery.
Today, I thought I’d take a deeper dive into one of my own experiences and share something that has truly made an impact on my life and recovery.
My Recovery Story
If you should learn one thing about me, it’s that I am in recovery myself – I’ve taken a journey similar to many with substance use disorders, and those experiences inform everything I do within the recovery community. Throughout my journey, water has played a key role in helping me recover and take one day at a time.
When I say water is important, I don’t just mean making sure you are staying hydrated. Have you ever sat down and thought about why people are so drawn to water or why being around water makes us happy? It’s partially because water is such a key to life here on earth, but it’s also because water holds countless healing properties that tend to go unnoticed.
A while back, I had the opportunity to take part in a remarkable retreat involving a host of speakers and wise individuals. We experienced everything from Catholic teachings to insight from a brilliant Buddhist monk. The group spent a lot of time around the water, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company.
Eventually, someone brought up how they feel like they’re always drawn to water and that it somehow makes them feel better whenever they’re around it. Others agreed, with the group coming to a consensus that water seems to create a feeling of calmness in all of us. This is where the monk said something that impacted how I view water’s role in my life.
When asked why we feel so drawn to the water, he simply responded, “Because you are water.” We waited, intrigued. “Our bodies are made up of 60% water,” he went on, “so, of course, we feel drawn to it.” From then on, I really began to think deeply about the real power of water, how it has affected me, and how I can use it as a tool during my journey of recovery.
Mental Health Benefits of Being Near Water
Areas where people can take time to be near water in the natural environment, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, are often referred to as “blue spaces.” Blue spaces have the ability to boost your mental health in a variety of ways.
Calms the Body and Mind
Natural bodies of water, especially running water, are well-known for their calming abilities. In fact, many people praise blue spaces as the best possible areas to relax or meditate. Research has found that the predictability of outdoor settings with water can create a feeling of calmness for those who are nearby. The consistent sound of the water, the calming, scenic view, and its flowing – yet largely unchanging – nature slowly relaxes your mind and body.
Your five senses play a critical role in how you perceive the world. When you’re stressed, your senses can often be overstimulated in addition to the racing thoughts you may be experiencing. When you’re in a blue space, however, all five of your senses are engaged in a peaceful way that inspires relaxation whether you realize it or not. The consistent sounds of the water help to relieve tension, ease your breathing, and calm your mind. Being around water has also been found to help reduce blood pressure as a result of stress relief.
Because there are so many different positive effects being around water can provide, it can ultimately work as a mood booster as a result. Natural water often creates a sense of awe, no matter how expansive the pond, lake, stream, or ocean is. As mentioned, water gives your brain a much-needed rest from the overstimulation your day-to-day life can bring and makes it easier for you to simply relax. Because of its beauty and calming properties, it’s easy for water to give your mood a little boost as you enjoy it.
Water can be inspiring to people in countless ways. From being the muse of your next art piece to using the beach as a place for meditation, water has the power to inspire anyone who takes the time to be near it. Experiencing something so beautiful yet so peaceful can often make people feel insignificant, but it’s important to remember that you are a part of something much bigger. This is a critical reminder for anyone on the journey of recovery.
The Healing Powers of Water
Water’s benefits are gained via its healing properties, helping you sustain your physical and mental well-being through your journey of recovery. Every culture views water and its healing powers differently, but they all generally agree that water has three primary healing properties.
Calms the Mind
Of course, one of the most important powers of water is its ability to calm the mind. Being around or in water relaxes the mind and calms the senses in a soft and pleasurable way that is unlike most other experiences on this earth. Water’s capabilities to engage the senses comfortably, provide relaxation, and relieve stress, are some of its most significant healing powers. Never underestimate what water can do for you in times of stress.
Refreshes the Body
Swimming, showering, dipping your toes into a river, or even just splashing your face can all positively affect your health in unexpected ways. Water has been used to refresh and restore life for thousands of years, and it’s critical we use it to reinvigorate ourselves. It’s never too late to learn more ways to incorporate water into your life.
Sustains Your Being
Water gives us the gift of life. Without water, humans – and all other life on earth – simply could not exist. It has sustained us since life began on this planet and will continue to do so until it’s gone. Remembering the role of water in your life and how it works to heal you every day is a wonderful way to be mindful of your present and hopeful for the future.
How to Incorporate Water More into Your Day-to-Day Life and Recovery
Now that you know more about the power of water, it’s important to use water to your advantage during your recovery. Here are five ways you can work to incorporate water in your healing process.
Spend More Time in Nature
Whether you prefer to go for a short walk next to a river or find a nice place to relax on the beach, spending more time in nature and just being around water can provide all the above benefits. As mentioned, the calming and mood-boosting properties water holds are incredible, and they can and should be used to benefit your healing. Simply dedicating 30 minutes a day to going outside and being near water may be the boost you need to keep going.
Use Blue Space for Meditation
Meditation and mindfulness are both incredible methods to use throughout your recovery. Both of these techniques focus on opening your mind, finding peace, and being at one with your surroundings. Finding a nice, relaxing blue space where you can commit a bit of your time to practice mindfulness or meditation just a couple of times per week can be an amazing habit to start during recovery.
Exercise also does amazing things for the body and mind, particularly during recovery. By adding the element of water into your exercise routine, you can double up on the benefits while enjoying your exercise at the same time. Whether you go for a quick swim in a lake on the weekend or swim laps in a pool every day, getting yourself moving while enjoying the benefits of water is another fantastic way to incorporate water into your life.
Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
Two years ago, I decided to try scuba diving and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. The experience has added a whole new dimension to my relationship with water. I have always loved swimming and being near the ocean, but scuba diving has allowed me to explore a whole new world beneath the water. It is like visiting a different planet where you get to see marine life up close and personal. The colorful corals, schools of fish, and even the occasional sea turtle or shark sighting have made the experience unforgettable. Scuba diving has given me a new sense of adventure and has opened up a whole new world of exploration that I never knew existed. Another coincidence, and we know there are no coincidences, I have found a great group of “sober” guys who scuba also. The guys are all over, down in the Keys, Belize, Bahamas. It’s been unbelievable.
Take Cold Showers
To many individuals, cold showers aren’t often something they do out of choice. However, cold showers are known to have a variety of health benefits for those who are brave enough to partake. Typically, a cold shower is any shower that is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, water has the power to give you an instant adrenaline rush and mood boost as your body feels the quick change in temperature. In addition to its mood-boosting qualities, a cold shower can help boost your metabolism, improve your immune system, relieve swelling, soreness, and pain, and even fight symptoms of depression.
Drink Water Consistently
While I’ve mentioned just about every benefit of being around water or using water, I haven’t reminded you yet of just how important it is to drink it consistently, too. When you leave your body constantly dehydrated, your bodily systems can’t function to the best of their ability. By getting the elements you need with the water intake your body requires, you can help yourself feel great.
If drinking multiple cups of water a day just doesn’t appeal to you, consider the many ways you can take in more water.
- Add fruit – delicious fruits like strawberries, blueberries, lemon slices, and more can flavor your water and impart some great nutrients, too.
- Add flavoring – there are multiple products on the market that add a quick vitamin boost and a hint of flavor.
- Build a habit – try to drink water each time you eat a meal, brush your teeth, and make other habits throughout your day.
- Replace your craving – if you’re in recovery, try drinking a glass of water each time you experience a trigger or have a craving.
- Track your progress – chart your water goals and track your progress; you might even consider challenging a friend to drink more water, too.
Does Being on the Water Make You Happier?
While it may seem like a stereotype built exclusively for the movies, I’ve noticed that it does sometimes feel like people that live near the ocean or on the beach are much happier. Science put that assumption to the test, and some recent studies have found that people living in coastal areas were happier and healthier.
With research showing the various health benefits that being around water can bring, it makes sense that people who live near water may live a more relaxing, low-stress life. While that may be tied to the more relaxed beach lifestyle, you can seize some of that relaxation for yourself with something as simple as a daily swim or nature walk. With this knowledge, you can use water’s calming properties as a tool to help you navigate the rough spots in your recovery.
The Power of Water in Your Recovery Journey
The road to recovery can be stressful, bumpy, and difficult, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get through it. With the help of simple tools like water, you have the ability to work toward the best version of yourself and find recovery. Whether you’re looking to form new, healthy habits or you’re just searching for a place to blow off steam, being around or in water can make a massive difference in your journey.
To learn more about the resources provided at James Haggerty Recovery, or to ask any questions involving your recovery journey, do not hesitate to reach out to me personally. I look forward to learning more about this recovery journey with you.