Community//

How the Ocean Healed My PTSD During the Pandemic 

A change in environment healed my stress triggers.

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I have always lived next to the East River in the eight years of living in New York City. From East Village to the Upper East Side, I have always felt my anxiety dissipate during my walks along the water.

I have never appreciated the healing effects of water on my mind, body, and spirit until I left my home in March to quarantine with family in Washington, D.C. 

I am a cocktail mix of depression, anxiety, and complex PTSD. The past few years of therapy, meditation, and running half-marathons has helped me navigate my mental health stressors healthily and effectively.

However, when the pandemic hit, I made an impulsive decision to quickly leave New York City and drive to Washington, D.C. I didn’t realize how vital my atmosphere is to my mental health until I felt my anxiety and depression increase.

Living far away from any source of water made my body stiff and my mind cloudy. I was feeling stifled creatively and unsafe to be myself. My fears increased every day as I watched my city become the epicenter of the virus. I felt more isolated and trapped in a place depleting me.

The wrong environment reignited my past traumas. The triggers paralyzed my mind and body. I knew what I needed to reset my mind-I needed the calmness of the water.

So, I willed myself to text my sister, who lived 4 hours away in Virginia Beach. I told her the truth about my declining mental health and my increasing PTSD triggers. Within 72 hours, she rescued me and drove me back to her beach house, where I spend the rest of my quarantine summer. 

Immediately as I entered this charming beach town, my muscles relaxed, and my PTSD subsided. I was able to breathe again.

The soothing energy of the ocean reset my mind, body, and spirit. The crisp smell of the salty water, the white noise of the crashing waves, and the hypnotizing flow of the tide reinvigorated my soul. 

For the next month, until I moved back to New York City, I spent every day on the beach. I watched the sunset, I surfed, I explored neighboring beach towns, and I returned to my mental state of peace interlaced with the oceanic landscape.

The water created an anchor of safety in my heart, healing me from the pandemic’s earlier stress triggers. It heard my silent cries and soothed it. It saw my anxious expression and calmed it. It felt my tensed muscles and relaxed it.

It provided me with unconditional support and healing to remind me as long as I’m near water, I’m home.

For more words of encouragement and healing, subscribe to my newsletter.

Maryann Samreth is a mental health writer and founder of the authentic content writing business, Sincerely Miss Mary.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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