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The Blue Mind Rx: Water is Medicine

Our wild waters provide vast cognitive, emotional, physical, psychological, social, and spiritual values for people from birth, through adolescence, adulthood, older age, and in death; wild waters provide a useful, widely available, and affordable range of treatments healthcare practitioners can incorporate into treatment plans.

 

The world ocean and all waterways, including lakes, rivers, and wetlands (collectively, blue space), cover over 71% of our planet. Keeping them healthy, clean, accessible, and biodiverse is critical to human health and well-being.

 

In addition to fostering more widely documented ecological, economic, and cultural diversities, our mental well-being, emotional diversity, and resiliency also rely on the global ecological integrity of our waters.

 

Blue space gives us half of our oxygen, provides billions of people with jobs and food, holds the majority of Earth's biodiversity including species and ecosystems, drives climate and weather, regulates temperature, and is the sole source of hydration and hygiene for humanity throughout history.

 

Neuroscientists and psychologists add that the ocean and wild waterways are a wellspring of happiness and relaxation, sociality and romance, peace and freedom, play and creativity, learning and memory, innovation and insight, elation and nostalgia, confidence and solitude, wonder and awe, empathy and compassion, reverence and beauty — and help manage trauma, anxiety, sleep, autism, addiction, fitness, attention/focus, stress, grief, PTSD, build personal resilience, and much more.

 

Chronic stress and anxiety cause or intensify a range of physical and mental afflictions, including depression, ulcers, colitis, heart disease, and more. Being on, in, and near water can be among the most cost-effective ways of reducing stress and anxiety.

 

We encourage healthcare professionals and advocates for the ocean, seas, lakes, and rivers to go deeper and incorporate the latest findings, research, and insights into their treatment plans, communications, reports, mission statements, strategies, grant proposals, media, exhibits, keynotes, and educational programs and to consider the following simple talking points:

 

  • Water is the essence of life: The ocean, healthy rivers, lakes, and wetlands are good for our minds and bodies.
     

  • Research shows that nature is therapeutic, promotes general health and well-being, and blue space in both urban and rural settings further enhances and broadens cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

  • All people should have safe access to salubrious, wild, biodiverse waters for well-being, healing, and therapy.

 

  • Aquatic biodiversity has been directly correlated with the therapeutic potency of blue space. Immersive human interactions with healthy aquatic ecosystems can benefit both.

 

  • Wild waters can serve as medicine for caregivers, patient families, and all who are part of patients’ circles of support.

 

  • Realization of the full range and potential magnitude of ecological, economic, physical, intrinsic, and emotional values of wild places requires us to understand, appreciate, maintain, and improve the integrity and purity of one of our most vital of medicines — water.

 

The Blue Mind Rx includes (but is not limited to) safe and supervised participation in swimming, board sports, floating, soaking, diving, boating, voyaging, fishing, paddling, interacting, beach and coast walks, wildlife watching, and other blue space activities as best practices for health and wellness.

Extending this conversation to new sectors, constituencies, and areas of research and educating the public about the true value of healthy, wild waters is of utmost priority.

As NASA scientists search the universe they use a simple mantra “Follow The Water”, it is source, matrix, and sustenance of all known life.

Healthy waters also enhance our quality of life in many important ways.

A more complete understanding of the full value of the aquatic environment will build a stronger, deeper, wider, and enduring Blue Mind movement and underline the importance of restoration, conservation, and protection efforts.

By improving education about the health benefits of water, providing adequate safety and skills training, and improving access for all communities, a healthy ocean and wild waters can be lifelong medicine for all people.

 

 

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