By Lourdes Zarro, LZ Coaching Group
Having a child with a disability can change the typical expectations a family has for them. When a child is born, parents expect to see growth and development, as well as anticipated social interactions. Making plans becomes more complex as the child with disabilities grows older. Many families struggle with the limited opportunities available to them.
Being left with little or no time for fun after a day of going from therapy to therapy can be taxing. The question arises, “How can I bond with my child?” One great way of doing so is through outdoor adventures that are centered around water. Water calms the mind and soothes the soul.
In his book, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, Dr. Stuart Brown maintains that play is essential to our health and longevity. Psychologists and neurologists have found that like play, being in, on, around, or near water taps into ancient neural pathways and their associated neurochemical reactions that can calm our overactive minds while engaging our senses. This process can help us access a state that allows our brains to restore, which can lead to enhanced cognitive performance, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.
Being in and around water can allow families to shed stress, reclaim hope, and find inspiration. One of my favorite family bonding activity is a dolphin swim. During a family dolphin swim parents feel joy as they discover their child’s new abilities.
I have seen firsthand how children shed stress and overcome fears when in the water. Playing and swimming are excellent ways to release endorphins. Pair that with the sea and VOILA, you have a feeling of tranquility and positivity. Not only is water calming and good for your mental health but also strengthens the areas of fine motor and gross motor as you play and move. During an outdoor marine adventure, families learn to solve problems and communicate better as a team. What better way to bond than exploring the big wide ocean together.
Often, we focus on improving academics, but being in and around water promotes creativity and exploration, as well. Dr. Andrew Huberman, Professor of Neuroscience at Stanford shares that when we are focused on our phone or laptop our bodies release a small amount of norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline, that causes heightened vigilance or a bit of stress. Nowadays, children are constantly on their phones or laptops. This can cause a continual state of vigilance generating some anxiety.
He shares that when we are outdoors and focus on a panoramic view this disengages that vigilance of attention and has a slight effect of calming the nervous system. An interesting fact that he shares is that claustrophobia is not being afraid of small spaces. The reason that many feel anxious in these situations is because being in small spaces does not allow you to see what you is ahead or around.
When we stand in front of the ocean and view the horizon we are not simply enjoying the view. According to Dr. Huberman our body is actually releasing dopamine which is a reward molecule in the brain that is secreted in response to things that are beyond the reach of our physical body. Looking at the great expanse that we call the ocean can actually help us feel Inspired and empowered!
Being in and around water is beneficial to us all. It’s a good thing that the ocean covers over 70% of our planet.
Next time you have an hour or two head out to the beach and enjoy Nature’s Masterpiece!
Lourdes Zarro is the president of LZ Coaching Group, a company that works with individuals and families by Inspiring and Empowering them through Transformation Coaching.
As a Certified Life Coach and Educational Consultant she enjoys the collaborative process of coaching and the creative solutions that are generated in this powerful work. In this field for over thirty years, she has a passion for empowering others to expand their sense of self, compassion, and consciousness, so they can thrive in relationships, work and health.