Water is medicine. We are more liquid than solid and it’s even possible that one of the reasons we evolved onto two legs was to make it easier to find water sources,” says Lizzi Larbalestier who’s built her business around the therapeutic benefits of water.
Larbalestier specialises in Blue Health Coaching, offering business and lifestyle coaching by the sea and based on the idea that a connection with water promotes mental, physical, spiritual, psychological and social health.
“Lots of people suffer from fatigue and information overload. When you bring people to the sea you can see their shoulders drop and they breathe more deeply,” she says. “The space lends itself to deep conversations and a big horizon allows their eyes to relax, bringing in peripheral vision and a soft fascination which expands thought.”
Although there’s now abundant scientific research to show how effective bodies of water are for mental wellness, Larbalestier argues the medicinal effects of water are still underutilised and undervalued – even in resort and destination spas which have their origins in salus per aquum (health through water).
She advocates stripping out chlorine and using salt water for pools, as well as looking at the whole system of water use and designing in ways to capture and recycle grey water.
“Water should be part of the décor: it’s restorative and the light reflects well off it,” she says. “But also look for other ways to bring in water content – artwork, music and even the language used. I like to use words like flow, ripple effect and buoyancy in my work.”
In addition, they could simply offer more experiences and packages by bodies of water, employ blue health coaches or put therapists through the coaching course she’s just about to launch.
“Although I wouldn’t always advocate initiating a conversation, it would be great to train therapists to be able to respond appropriately if people do volunteer information,” she says. “Massage is all about moving liquid – lymphatic fluid – around the body and putting people into flow state, so language tools could support the process of letting go.”
Overall, Larbalestier argues that spa operators need to be mindful of water ecosystems too and the impact of not just microbeads and plastics but fats and oils which go down the drain.