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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

February 16, 2024

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Holistic interventions like ocean therapy can effectively supplement evidence-based addiction treatment to promote recovery from addiction.

By engaging with ocean therapy, you could strengthen your stress management skills and develop healthier coping strategies, both invaluable during ongoing recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction.

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What is Ocean Therapy?

Ocean therapy is also known as ocean beach therapy, sea therapy, or thalassotherapy.

Named from the Greek word for sea or ocean – thalassa – this form of holistic therapy uses seawater, the salty ocean air, and spa therapy to help improve the wellbeing of those with physical and mental health conditions.

Although this form of therapy in the context of addiction is a relatively new phenomenon, the practice of thalassotherapy dates back to Roman times. Soldiers used steaming sweater baths when recuperating after battle.

Ocean therapy can take on many different forms, including:

  • Seawater pools
  • Seawater baths
  • Climate therapy
  • Exercise in heated pools
  • Sea products

This form of therapy is mainly practiced in maritime areas where local seawater can be applied to pools, baths, or treatments.

Types of Ocean Therapy

There are many different applications for ocean therapy.

  • Ocean therapy pools: Pools designed for thalassotherapy can be filled with heated seawater. These pools are often communal. You can find ocean therapy pools in spas, resorts, and on cruise ships. Search online for therapy pools near you.
  • Ocean therapy baths: Day clubs and spas offering thalassotherapy often provide ocean therapy baths. Submerge your body in heated seawater and harness its healing benefits – more on those below.
  • At-home ocean therapy: Take a dip in the sea for free thalassotherapy if you live within striking distance. You can also find many DIY thalassotherapy treatments like marine bath soak and seaweed body wrap.
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Ocean Therapy Psychology

Contemporary society is always-on and often hectic. Daily stressors can trigger depression and anxiety. When mental health disorders are undiagnosed and untreated, many people self-medicate the distressing symptoms with alcohol or drugs. This strategy, though, will provide only fleeting relief, while worsening the mental health condition and introducing the issue of substance abuse.

For those unable to cope with stress using healthy coping mechanisms, high stress levels can impact the following areas of the body:

  • Immune system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • CNS (central nervous system)
  • Musculoskeletal system

Additionally, stress can reduce levels of dopamine and serotonin, leading to depressed mood and fatigue.

Researchers have increasingly explored the calming effect of nature on the mind over recent years.  Natural bodies of water are believed to exert a powerful positive influence on your mental health and wellbeing. The peace associated with being in proximity to expanses of water is sometimes known as blue mind.

Ocean therapy could deliver the following psychological benefits:

  • The color blue has associations with peace and calm.
  • Looking out to sea is believed to alter your brain wave frequency, inducing a mildly meditative state.
  • Listening to waves ebb and flow naturally relaxes and soothes the brain.
  • The negative ions in salty sea air could help mitigate depressed mood.
  • Spending time near bodies of water gives you the opportunity to reflect and contemplate.
  • Being near the ocean could boost your creativity.

Healing Benefits of the Ocean

Ocean therapy in general and seawater in particular stimulate the body by boosting immune system functionality, increasing blood cell production, and improving your response ability. Thalassotherapy can also help to promote smoother breathing.

The ocean can also deliver the following healing benefits:

  • Improves overall sleep quality
  • Boosts blood circulation
  • Increases trace minerals

Improves overall sleep quality

Thalassotherapy could be beneficial if you are not getting enough sleep.

Research shows that ocean therapy can:

  • Reduce sleepiness during the day.
  • Improve your cognitive function.
  • Boost your mood.
  • Reduce levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and anger.
  • Trigger positive effects on sleep disorders.
  • Improve sleeping throughout the night.

Boosts blood circulation

Studies indicate that water therapy can increase blood circulation, helping to restore nutrients and oxygen to your body, and also relieving any muscle spasms.

The seaweeds and algae sometimes used in this form of holistic therapy is proven to encourage blood circulation when applied topically.

Increases trace minerals

Seawater contains many trace minerals essential for your health and development, such as:

  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Cobalt
  • Calcium

Your skin absorbs these minerals as you soak in warm seawater, strengthening your natural defenses.

Deep seawater therapy is proven to decrease muscle fatigue and reduce recovery time. Studies also show that thalassotherapy can improve mobility and muscle flexibility.

Therapy at Renaissance Recovery

At Renaissance Recovery, we offer a variety of outpatient programs at all levels of intensity for the following conditions:

  • Mental health disorders
  • Alcohol use disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis)

Those in need of more support and structure than traditional outpatient rehab offers can take advantage of an IOP (intensive outpatient program) or a PHP (partial hospitalization programs) at our luxury Orange County rehab.

EBTs (evidence-based treatments) form the core of our treatment programs, allowing you to engage with medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy, and counseling. We also offer a wide range of holistic therapies to provide you with a whole-body approach to recovery.

When you complete your treatment program at Renaissance, you can either step down to a less time-intensive form of therapy or move right back into daily living. Your treatment team will ensure you have the relapse management strategies and aftercare you need in place to sustain your recovery.

Call admissions today at 866.330.9449 to get the treatment process started at Renaissance Recovery Center.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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