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What the hell are negative ions and why are they good for you?

There’s a reason people in cities are more stressed than those in the country. Or why people in the city look at you like you’re an asshole if you make eye contact, whereas on the coast they say hello…


Negative ions.

They’re odourless, tasteless molecules from the air that when inhaled, they enter the bloodstream and create biochemical reactions that increase levels of the happy happy joy joy chemical in our brain, Serotonin. And they’re in the air only in certain environments, such as around waterfalls, in forests, or by the ocean.

They’re created in natural environments when air molecules break apart because of sunlight, radiation of the movement of water. And when we’re around them, they relieve stress and basically bump up our mood and energy.

So you know that peaceful feeling you get when you even look at the never-ending, pounding waves for a few seconds, or the peace of mind when hiking through a national park, there’s something biochemical going on that can explain it.

Amos Oz once wrote that certain places in life give us ‘perspective on eternity’, putting us in our place and making us realise how minute our existence is in the context of time and the universe. Oceans, forests, parks do that. And that, coupled with what we take from those places in the form of negative ions, are the explantation for why being in nature is makes us not look at people like they’re assholes when they say hi.