Wherever you are, take a deep breath. How did that make you feel? Are you stuck in an office, working from a coffee shop, or sitting at home? While there are certainly people who still live in the country, more and more individuals are living in cities.
When you go outside for a breath of fresh air, you’re really breathing in the pollution of the city. As cities sprawl into the countryside, people are required to go further and further to truly get a breath of fresh air.
The same can be said for the ocean. If you choose a popular beach along the coast of New Jersey, chances are you’ll be smelling more smog and fried food than a fresh ocean breeze. But if you truly get out into nature and go off the beaten path, you can still find stretches of beach that are all your own.
When you breathe in this air, you instantly know the difference. You can smell the salty water, the aquatic vegetation, and the warm sand. Simply sitting and focusing on your breath can instantly make you feel a sense of peace that can’t be found in a city.
In order to find this much-needed peace, some people head to the mountains, some choose the forest, while for others, this place of relaxation is the ocean. The air in all of these places offers therapeutic benefits that can improve your overall wellness.
Stress and the City
In the 1950s, less than one-third of the world’s population lived in cities. Today, approximately 55 percent of the population lives in an urban environment. In a recent staggering estimate, two-thirds of the world’s population is predicted to live in cities by the year 2050.1
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Granted, city life comes with a lot of conveniences. Instead of slaving away at the farm all day, most people can run down to the corner store for groceries. Individuals have central heating, comfortable beds, and modern medicine, yet they’re also much more stressed.
One study found that people living in cities were 21 percent more likely to experience an anxiety disorder and 39 percent more likely to have a mood disorder.2 Another study found that those who commuted to work on a crowded bus or train have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.3
People have become so used to the high-stress, high-productivity environment of the concrete jungle that many have forgotten what it feels like to truly relax.
Large cities are lacking in nature. There may be a park here, a patch of grass there, but nothing like what ancient humans were used to. Believe it or not, there was a time where you could walk straight out your front door and breathe fresh air.
Consider how your great-grandparents lived. Do you think they were commuting to work in crowded trains, living in apartment complexes, and getting all their food from a supermarket? Before the majority of the population began to move to cities for work, most people were farmers or tradesmen. This allowed for a much closer connection to the land than most people today are used to.
Additionally, the plants that were more prevalent then offer more than just something beautiful to look at. They produce secondary metabolites known as terpenes that offer a wide variety of health benefits. Simply breathing them in can lower stress levels and promote a general sense of well-being. With such a large chunk of the world living in urban areas, the majority of individuals are likely terpene deficient.
This leads to higher levels of stress, higher risk of mental illness, and reduced immune system function. Humans evolved alongside nature and breathed in these terpenes on a daily basis. When they left that environment, homeostasis was thrown off balance.
Benefits of the Ocean Breeze
When you breathe in the fresh ocean breeze, you are doing more than simply clearing your mind and enjoying the scent of the air. You’re also breathing in all of the beneficial terpenes that are present in that environment. If you’re walking through a moody, overcast beach in the Pacific Northwest, you’re likely breathing in the terpenes produced by coniferous trees such as the Douglas fir. The terpenes will vary depending on the location, but all give you a much needed health boost.
As you get further away from cities and civilization, the rate of pollution in the air drops. Sea air is filled with negative ions, which are thought to boost the ability to absorb oxygen and regulate serotonin levels. Some studies have even found that they can help improve concentration and alertness.
Other studies have found that inhaling salty air can help improve lung function in people who are suffering from allergies, asthma, or cystic fibrosis.
In an Australian study published in 2014, the effects of ocean air were tested on surfers suffering from cystic fibrosis. The study was 48 weeks long and found evidence that salty air helped clear out the lungs of the patients. Participants also experienced fewer symptoms and a decreased need for antibiotics.4
Combating Terpene Deficiency with Essential Oils
As much as most people would like to escape to the sea on a weekly basis, it simply isn’t feasible. However, when you’re living in a terpene deficient environment, it’s still important to bring these terpenes into your home. While nothing beats breathing in the fresh ocean breeze, sometimes you need to settle for second best. By diffusing essential oils throughout your home, you can give yourself a much needed health boost. An added benefit is how delightful they make your surroundings smell.
Ocean MONQ offers a unique mix of eucalyptus, lime, tangerine, as well as other essential oils that mimic the ocean breeze. Essential oils have synergistic effects, and combining oils provides many more benefits than just using one. This is true in nature as well: a forest doesn’t only have one type of plant. Rather there are many different plants playing their own roles to provide health benefits.
Using a Terpene Pen allows you to bring terpenes wherever you go. Simply close your eyes, breathe in, and imagine the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the sea beside you.
Photo credits: DiegoCervo/shutterstock.com