Go to your local beach.
The beach is a time machine. While everyone is lost on Instagram or Snap Chatting their lives away, the beach is exactly as you remembered it. There’s a kiosk. A shower to rinse the sand off your rash vest. Sand and the ocean. It’s perfect. Amid the constant turbulence of the modern world, you will instantly de-stress. You will forget the suffocating walls of your cubicle. The dishes that are piled up in the sink will disappear (not literally).
I’ve always envied surfers/beach rats. Not just their perfect, tanned bodies and beach hair. But I want that laid back attitude. That unflappable nature when you roll with whatever the world throws at you. Meanwhile, I’m stressing out because someone is listening to Wham! at full blast on their smartphone and ruining my commute. It’s not 1984! Use your damn headphones!
Watch Ian Cole discuss the science behind needing to take holidays. (Post continues after video).
I say “no worries”, but I worry…..a lot. A day at the beach literally swept my worries away with the tide.
There’s honestly nothing better than sitting in the ocean. You can surf, swim or just fight the waves in your own way. I know this will sound corny, but there’s a lot to be said for communing with nature. Letting go of everything and forging your own path in the world, even if it’s only a few hours. I call it beach therapy. I’m not going to transform myself into Sigrid Thornton and have a sea change (although she is pretty great), but a trip to the beach did more for me than I could possibly imagine.
I got back from my day at Long Reef and my neighbour mentioned that something was different about me. “You look…happier, Jeff. You’ve got a spring in your step”, he said. I was not only walking on air, but the salt that covered my body magically renewed my spirit. I didn’t achieve anything the other day at the Long Reef. My family was the same as when I left the house that morning. My job is just as good/bad as it was yesterday.
Nothing has changed. Except for the fact that I spent a day on the sand and in the waves. It made a profound difference to my mental health, even though I wasn’t aware of the effect that the experience had on me. If other people can see that you’ve changed, then you need to take stock.
We’re truly blessed that we can drive to amazing beaches in our own city. And I would hop in the ocean maybe once a year. Part of me is afraid of getting eaten by a shark, but the reality is that I don’t make the effort to go to the beach. I talk myself out by saying that “parking is too hard” and that “the beach is in on the other side of the city”. Taking the plunge (literally) was well worthwhile.
The space that you spend in the ocean is a vortex. You lose all points of reference. You’re not worrying about your job or your mortgage. Your only pressing concern is whether your dive under the next wave or let the water hit and absorb the force of the world for a moment.
However, it’s worthwhile checking if your bag is still where you left it.
Another fringe benefit of going to the beach with a friend is something I like to call “beach banter”. I was at the beach with my friend, Anthony, which was great. I was applying about half a bottle of sunscreen to my alabaster Anglo-Saxon body and Anthony simply removed his clothes and walked straight into the ocean. His Mediterranean complexion allowed him to do what I always dreamed of: going into the water without looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost. After lunch, we decided to go for another swim.
I was reapplying my SPF 9000 and Anthony was ready to hop straight in the water. I convinced Anthony to use some glowing white goop on his body. As he applied the sunscreen he was in shock, “Jeff, what is this shit?” He did look pretty hilarious. It didn’t react as well to his complexion. He looked more like a geisha. We laughed. And then I realised that I must look like a geisha everyday of the week because the sunscreen perfectly matched my skin tone. Beach banter, at its best.
I’d thoroughly recommend a day or a week at the beach. Give yourself the chance to recalibrate and appreciate the wonderful island we call home. Often, we’re so busy living in the land of Oz that we can’t see the wonderful beaches, even through they literally surround our entire nation. Tell yourself to get in the car or hop on the train and go to the beach. It’s worth it. Even if it’s only for a day or two. Some of the best beaches in the world are in our major cities.
And you know what? When I had a shit day this week my mind drifted towards the beach. I wasn’t able to ditch everything and immediately chill out at Bondi and laugh at some hipsters. I still had to go to work to pay my bills/mortgage. But I made a mental note to make a date with beach as soon as possible. Give yourself some space and engage with some of the amazing spaces that our coastline has to offer.
This summer…you should watch a few Hollywood blockbusters and you should go to the beach.
What are your best remedies to unwind?