Bluemind and wellbeing

Water is good for you

Being in, on, near or (preferably) under water influences our minds.  Think of the feeling you get when you sit on a boat or the shore and watch the waves.  Marine Biologist, Wallace J. Nicholls calls this “bluemind”.  In his book on the subject, he describes the neuroscience of our relationship with water. 

“…listen to what white-water rafters and kayakers or swimmers or surfers or divers say about water, and you will hear the language of people who are in love with, if not addicted to, their sport or profession.”

– Wallace J Nicholls.

Leaving stress on the surface

The water’s surface is a boundary between two distinctly different environments.  Existing in water means leaving our earth world and the concerns we have there.  Beneath the surface, we can escape.  Our core focus is on the basic tasks of staying alive and breathing underwater.  Our perspective is shifted.


We know that the deeper we go, the greater the pressure.  That pressure has an effect on our bodies that is not well understood.  Some divers will describe the comforting effect of being under pressure, like being held.  Breathing under pressure changes how signals are transmitted through our nervous system (which is why we get narcked).  Thoughts can be slowed down.  Sometimes the noise of thoughts going around the mind is muffled or switched off at depth.

Scuba diving skills are useful

We learn a lot as divers.  There are the practical things, like being able to talk to your buddy across a noisy bar! Learning ideas from physics, biology, and engineering that probably never interested you before.   

We can also learn skills for regulating our emotions and staying in control of our actions.  The barrier that physics creates for a quick escape means we have to learn to stay calm and deal with problems.  Scuba diving can create that motivation to learn skills in emotion regulation, problem-solving and communication.  Even more simply, we learn how to breath to relax.

There is even some evidence can reduce anxiety and help people to recover from psychological trauma.  However, scuba diving can be challenging and water can be unforgiving of our mistakes.  Panic is to be avoided.  Sometimes it is better to learn to deal with anxiety on the surface.

Scuba superpowers

Finding out you can breathe underwater changes your view of yourself.  Learning to scuba dive is a challenge.  Sometimes we really have to work to overcome fears.  It is also an unusually accessible extreme sport.  Dive certification often comes with the realisation “if I can do this I can achieve anything”.

Diving under the water gives us access to other perspectives.  Being a diver means the ability to see the surface from the other side.

Motivated by diving

“no dessert thank you, I need to get into my wetsuit”

We all know we should take care of ourselves in what we consume, how much we move our bodies and build our minds by learning new things.  The trouble is, doing something because you ought to is really dull.   We can end up in a trap of self-criticism, which usually drives us further toward the cheesecake. 

But, doing something because you want to be a better diver, improve air consumption or just fit into that fancy new drysuit you bought … that is different.  Making changes to behaviour is far easier when it is in the service of something you value.  Love of diving will do that.