I Chase Waterfalls for My Health
The car slows as its tires slowly crunch over the gravel. After hours of driving the winding black ribbons of roads in the Westfjords of Iceland, we come across a tall precipice overlooking toy cars below, signaling that we must be close.
Doors slamming closed and its strength already radiates within your bones. Thunderous by name, Dynjandi is the most powerful waterfall in the fjords. A series of seven waterfalls in all, stretching to a height of 100 meters.
We draw closer to its center. To its core, to its heart. The air changes. The mood quiets, yet it is met with equal exhilaration. Inching closer, the thundering power blankets all other noise and the repetitious flow becomes mesmerizing. Eyes closed, the cool mist greets my face. The afternoon sun trying to make its presence known.
The morning was restless though. Sleepy eyes and still-shaky nerves from the aftermath of a difficult and precarious drive the night before. Those black ribbon roads had disappeared in the thick fog the previous night. Deprivation led to indecision if we should attempt to locate these falls.
All the uncertainty and drowsiness was lost when we stepped foot at its impressive base. The cascading water was the answer.
Of everything in our environment, waterfalls contain the highest amounts of negative ions with approximately 10,000-50, 000 unit/ cm^3. But there is nothing negative about them.
Ions are molecules that gained or lost an electrical charge. Negative and positive ions populate our surroundings but are odorless, tasteless and invisible.
Negative ions are created in nature as air molecules split apart due to sunlight, moving air and water. Hence why negative ions are so abundant near waterfalls.
These negative ions are more scarce in cities, which is where positive ions are found in ample amounts. Lack of ventilation, air-conditioning, electrical and computer equipment, and long dry spells remove negative ions from the air.
This is why a calmness arises when you step outside to greet Dynjandi or any other cascading flow of ions splitting. Negative ions have been shown to improve the body’s immune system and resistance to disease. It is said to increase flow of oxygen to the brain leading to increased alertness and suppressing drowsiness. More mental energy results.
But why is this important? A study completed by Columbia University determined that by introducing a negative ion-rich environment to patients showed clinical remission of depressive and neurovegetative symptoms in a statistically significant number of patients compared to a low-density ion control group.
As far as application, this study suggests that negative ions provide a therapeutic method capable of suppressing hypersomnia, hyperphagia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), nonseasonal atypical depression, and fatigue.
Waterfalls are invigorating. Rejuvenating. They help you become unstuck.
It helped me get unstuck from a veil of haziness that morning. When I feel stressed or lost, I consciously try to put myself by water. But imagine the benefits if we could make a deliberate change in our lives to return to waterfalls more often. To routinely try to harness that energy.
As for me, chasing waterfalls is something I take very seriously.
Malinda Meadows is an Ohio native who was letting grief blanket her life.
She found healing through traveling and nature. She discovered changes of location led to changes in her mindset. It helped her process grief and forge a new path with greater optimism and happiness. Realizing the benefit of deliberate change, she now leads a more balanced and mindful life inspired by simple changes.
She blogs regularly at malindainthesnow.com to help others find change, however small, outside their box in order to live a happier, healthier life.