Sunday, February 25, 2018

Water Soothes the Soul

February 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Many of us enjoy living near or visiting the water. The soothing power of rhythmic tides eases the daily tensions of life, as does hearing repetitious waves and the sound of flowing water. And there’s no denying the therapeutic benefits of water even while quietly drifting along on a paddleboard.

Fortunately, for those living with too much stress, water is an effective anxiety reducer. Various experiences in or around water seem soothing to most people, yet it takes “a concerted effort” to relax, says Martin A. Rosolinsky, a clinical social worker and therapist in Bayport. A focus on relaxation is key to letting go of the memory of unpleasant events. When life’s stresses invade the mind, sufferers need to “mindfully let go” instead of giving into needless fretting.

Taking a stroll on the beach actually provides a double dose of relaxation therapy, according to Rosolinsky. Walking on a beach or alongside a body of water involves repetitive motions that have a therapeutic effect on the psyche. In addition, the sound of moving water is relaxing. “That type of repetitious sound does have a soothing effect,” he says. “I love to take walks on the shore, and sit on the boardwalk listening to the ocean.”

Visualization, a common mental health therapy, also relieves tension, per Rosolinsky. “Just immersing yourself in your environment can be very soothing. Visualize being in a calm place or a calm situation, and block out any thoughts of what you need to do on a daily basis.” Thus, a hassled person must resolutely put away the nagging tensions of a stressful encounter or event. The upshot is that relaxation, even in a pacifying environment, requires practice!

The gentle rocking of a boat on the water “is incredibly relaxing to the nervous system,” says Shana Lee Levin, a licensed massage therapist at The Body Sattva, in Northport. She extols the benefits of massage therapy for lowering blood pressure, relieving muscle tension, alleviating stress, relieving migraines, and boosting the immune system. Some of those same benefits come from the sea, too. Tides and the flowing of water “are innately soothing,” Levin says, as rocking relieves stress, evoking the experience of being swayed in the womb.

Many Long Island residents have high-stress jobs, notes Kathryn (Katie) Aksak, who has a Master’s Degree in mental health counseling. “If you want to live here, you get caught up in the hustle and bustle, just trying to be able to afford it.”

Aksak and her partner, Taylor Resnick, operate Huntington Stand Up Paddle in Huntington. She sees paddleboard yoga as a great way to combine relaxation and fitness with the therapeutic benefits of the water. Aksak, a paddleboard trainer for four years, calls herself “a doer, not a talker,” and favors a hands-on therapeutic approach. “So much in counseling is talking about things, and hoping the client will take what you said and utilize it on their own time.”

As a sport, paddleboarding offers a very favorable form of exercise. “You’re out there, you’re moving, it’s physical and you’re taking care of yourself,” explains Askak. She adds that engaging in the sport, with or without the addition of yoga, provides beneficial physical and mental relaxation.

Although Aksak and Resnick find our waterways enchanting, hustling to keep up in one of the nation’s most populous regions makes for a stressful life. “New York is very go, go, go,” Aksak observes, so being able to take advantage of “something beautiful and natural and relaxing has a huge appeal.” A paddleboard offers a low-cost way to get out onto the water. “We could have each shelled out $1,000 for a paddleboard, but together we couldn’t have shelled out enough for a boat. So, this was a way for us to get out there and enjoy it.”

When they took a paddleboarding trip to Vermont in 2009, the couple decided they could turn their love of the sport into a business. Besides lessons and counseling offshore, their paddleboard shop is located right by the water. “I am very much a water girl,” enthuses Aksak. “I’m really at home by the water. It’s my ideal place to be. And, if I can do my workout where I love to be, what’s better than that?”

How better to take advantage of the restorative powers of the sea than to linger there as long as possible?

By Jan Fletcher

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