Blue Mind Theory: What it is and How to Use it to Your Advantage

Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

You probably know that swimming is a great physical exercise.

But did you know that by just observing water, whether from a beach or looking at an aquarium, you may experience mental benefits?

This is called the Blue Mind Theory.

Popularized by marine biologist Dr. Wallace Nichols, this study-backed concept identifies the beneficial connection between humans and blue water.

It is also the main topic and title of his landmark book, published in 2014.

Let’s learn more about the Blue Mind Theory and how you can offer these benefits in your home or business.

What is Blue Mind Theory?

Blue Mind refers to the meditative state people fall into when in, under, on, or near water.

If you’ve ever felt more peaceful interacting with water, you’ve experienced Blue Mind.

Not only can it improve our well-being, but it may also improve creativity and productivity.

Nichols states that the “Blue Mind” counteracts the “Red Mind”, which refers to modern life’s anxious, overstimulated state.

Spending time near water disconnects us from the tech-filled world and helps us reconnect with nature and ourselves.

This concept aligns with biophilia, or humans’ innate connection to nature. There is a growing trend around biophilic design, due to the many benefits of having natural elements in nursing homes, hospitals, and office buildings, to name a few.

How Does Blue Mind Work?


The presence of a large body of water emits negatively charged ions into the environment.

These ions promote the release of serotonin in the brain, which improves our moods.

Moreover, our senses of sight, sound, and feel all play a part.

According to the Blue Cross Blue Shield, here are some ways that water, especially blue water, benefits us physically and mentally:

  • Water is a source of awe that expands a person’s compassion.
  • Water increases dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and decreases cortisol.
  • The sound, color, and feel of water may increase calmness by lowering a person’s pulse rate.
  • Water triggers involuntary attention, which improves creativity and problem-solving.

How to Make Blue Mind Work for You


Spend Some Time by the Water

If you have the opportunity, visit a body of water near you, whether a pool, river, or ocean.

Walk along the water, go for a swim, go out on a boat, or simply relax in a beach chair.

Why do our minds relax around bodies of water?

Nichols states that involuntary attention is the reason for this experience:

“Because bodies of water change and stay the same simultaneously, we experience both soothing familiarity and stimulating novelty which is regularity without monotony. This is the perfect recipe for triggering a state of involuntary attention in which the brain’s default network essential to creativity and problem-solving gets triggered.”

That’s a mouthful.

In less complicated terms, the stimuli from moving bodies of water are great for short and long-term mental health because they promote healthy brain function.

This is why Nichols recommends vacationing by the water or doing activities near a water source.

Get a Fish Tank

Serenity Fish Aquarium

You don’t need to visit a large body of water for these benefits, either.

People can experience Blue Mind with a fish tank!

Many of our clients add a Serenity Aquarium in communal areas in their facilities.

What they found is that employees are visiting that space more often for collaborating, relaxing during lunch breaks, and see it as a more comfortable space to work outside the cubicle.

There are also many benefits from aquariums in healthcare facilities.

They can lower stress, lower blood pressure, and encourage engagement among nursing home residents.

A fish tank also acts as a calming agent in waiting rooms in doctor’s offices and dentist offices.

See how we help residents, guests, and staff achieve Blue Mind.

Stay Hydrated

While this is a standard health requirement, hydration may affect us in more ways than we think.

Blue Mind is a state of peace and calmness, but you can’t achieve this if you’re dehydrated.

Dehydration can cause anxiety, fatigue, memory and concentration issues, among other negative effects.

The human body is made up of about 60-80% water, while the brain is about 80% water by volume.

You need proper hydration to achieve a Blue Mind, so drinking an adequate amount of water will promote positive mental and physical health.


The chaos of our technological world is ever-expanding. Stress and depression, or the “Red Mind”, spreads rampantly among our communities.

If you have the opportunity to be around water, you should take advantage.

Go for a swim, drink a lot of water, get an aquarium, relax on the beach, etc.

Also, look around your home or facility. Are there any areas where you could add a water feature? Would your patients or customers enjoy a relaxing aquarium? Can you incorporate more blues and greens in certain rooms?

Whatever your situation, reconnect with the natural world and experience Blue Mind for yourself!