Your beach vacation can boost your mental health. Experts share three ways to make the most of it.

There are few things better (or more relaxing) than spending your summer at the beach. If your idea of ​​heaven involves sinking your toes in the sand while the sun warms you up after a dip in the ocean, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that spending time by the water does wonders for the mind. and the mood. And experts say there are smart ways to get even more mental health benefits from your seaside stay.

“A beach vacation is a great time to take some time for yourself and give yourself the opportunity and space to focus on your own mental health and well-being,” counselor and certified life coach Rosa Talavera-Kaufman tells Yahoo Life.

Here’s what experts recommend to maximize those feel-good vibes during your next visit to the beach.

Lounging with a book on the beach is all well and good, but try a brand new experience to stimulate your body and brain for the long term. It could be as simple as hopping on a paddleboard for the first time, but you can also up the ante by adding a bucket list experience to your itinerary, like swimming in a bioluminescent bay among microorganisms that light up in a shocking neon blue .

“It’s scary in a primal way to sink yourself into dark, murky water,” Seattle attorney Julia Guarino tells Yahoo Life about the latest attempt at the oceanfront resort Excellence Oyster Bay in Montego Bay, Jamaica. “But when you see the magical blue glow spreading from your hands as you swim, I’ve never experienced anything like it,” she says, noting a sense of wonder that many beachgoers experience when swimming in bioluminescence.

Studies have shown that this feeling of awe can be good for both your mental and physical health. Psychologist Reena Patel agrees: “Spending time in a new environment (and) participating in fun activities can improve mood, boost creativity and lead to new ideas,” she tells Yahoo Life. “If you’re on a beach vacation, this is the perfect time to try something new.”

According to Patel, the calming effects of a simple walk on the beach are known to help reduce anxiety. “Walking barefoot on the sand is a good time to take advantage of your surroundings and practice grounding,” she explains.

“Maximizing a beach vacation can take the form of what I like to call mini-grounding techniques,” behavioral therapist Mark Debus tells Yahoo Life. “These could include walks along the beach, focusing on feeling the sand and waves on your feet and ankles.” He notes that people often unconsciously bring anxiety and tension from their home or work environment with them on vacation, and that practicing grounding strategies while walking on the beach can help focus on mindfulness – and even lead to a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure.

“In general, focus on the physical environment around you,” Debus suggests. “Stay grounded and do your best to disconnect and take your mind off things that have nothing to do with relaxation.”

Life coach Talavera-Kaufman suggests taking that grounding walk under a full moon for maximum benefits. “For those who want to connect with their intuitive side, visiting the beach at night under a full moon and stars can be a powerful experience,” she says. Moon cycles influence behavior, she explains, so being on the beach during the full moon “can help stimulate intuition in addition to meditation and grounding exercises.”

It may sound woo-woo, but many beachgoers – as well as scientific studies – will attest that there is something about being by the water that brings peace, calm and clarity. “It’s really great for your mental health and provides a great opportunity for self-reflection, intentional thinking and meditation,” adds Talavera-Kaufman.

In the age of digital nomadism, working while ‘on vacation’ – also known as the ‘workation’ – is having a moment. But keeping those Zoom calls and work appointments will actually harm the potential physical and mental benefits of that beach trip, Debus explains. Instead, he advises travelers to “make an appointment with the beach!”

Aye Moah is a workplace mental health expert and CEO of productivity brand Boomerang – and she’s no stranger to the phenomenon of feeling like you can’t turn off your brain just because you’re at the beach. “It can be difficult to fully relax and enjoy your holiday with the stress of work in the background,” says Moah. She recommends taking some simple preparation steps before your vacation to allay work anxiety ahead of time and ensure you can truly unplug once you arrive at your destination.

“Set clear boundaries with your manager and your team before you go about your availability,” she tells Yahoo Life. “By telling your team what to expect – and making it clear that you are completely offline – you avoid any chance of confusion.” Then look at upcoming deadlines and send everything you can in advance. Finally, leave a memo describing who your colleagues can contact for different types of questions or concerns. “This way,” Moah explains, “if anyone within your company or externally has questions while you’re away, they can be handled and you won’t find yourself back to 100 piled-up tasks. And you can focus on relaxing, knowing nothing will slip through the cracks while you’re away.”

Once you’ve arrived on that long-awaited vacation, it’s time for the hardest and most powerful step of all: “Disconnect your work email from your phones,” urges Moah. And turn off notifications for Slack or Teams — or better yet, delete the apps completely until you come back. “Ultimately,” she says, “you need to focus on disconnecting completely—you’ll come back less stressed and more creative.”

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