Everyone loves spending a day at the beach. The sound of the waves, the sunlight, and the relaxation of lounging in a beach chair are some of the highlights of summer. As it turns out, time at the beach does more than just provide enjoyment, it actually changes your brain.

Researchers found certain traits in those who spent more time at the beach than those who went sparingly or not at all. The benefits of spending time at the beach manifested themselves in several different ways, all of them beneficial.

The first benefit really isn’t surprising — going to the beach reduces stress. This is apparent to anyone who has spent any time at the beach. It’s impossible to be stressed out while sitting on the shoreline.

That’s because the ocean is a major source of negative ions, the ions that make us feel relaxed and at ease. An afternoon at the beach may be just what you need to unwind and recharge your batteries after a long week at work. Electronics are notorious for the positive ions they release. Getting away from them is vital for relaxation.

In a similar way, the beach can help improve depression and anxiety. Those negative ions help with each of these issues, but it’s actually the sound of the waves that provides the benefit here.

The rhythmic sounds of the waves washing onto the shore actually provide similar relaxation to meditation. When we focus on the sound of the water, we tend to tune out the rest of the world. This can put your mind at ease and help you practice the mindfulness necessary for mental health.

Another benefit is that people who regularly go to the beach tend to be more creative. It’s been shown that the beach improves abstract thinking, even after just a few minutes. The more often a person goes, however, the more they’ll see an improvement.

For artists, this creativity is obviously important. But even for those not in a creative field, abstract thinking and creativity can come in handy. Seeing problems from different perspectives can lead to better solutions.

Overall, spending time at the beach just improves your perspective and your life in general. It will cause you to slow your pace and not worry so much about day-to-day troubles. It allows you to just unwind and detach from your troubles.

If you’re someone who doesn’t live near a beach, you can experience similar benefits by spending time in nature. No matter what your activity level, there is something in nature that can help you unwind and enjoy the moment. Whether it’s hiking, kayaking, mountain climbing, or just going to the local park with a good book, this time spent in nature will help you connect with your roots and improve your well-being.

For those who do live near a beach, be sure you are taking advantage of the health benefits the ocean offers. Even if it’s just a couple times a month, spending time at the beach will completely improve your mood, help with your mental health, and just make you a more positive person.