125+ Best Wave Tattoo Ideas for Reducing Stress and Depression

While tattoos have been around for centuries as a form of art, many don’t know of their therapeutic uses. Although therapeutic tattoos are a dying art form, many still use them today to heal different diseases and cope with mental illnesses, case in point depression and stress.

While it may sound strange as to how it is possible for a tattoo to heal diseases and ailments, history and science have proved otherwise. If you’re going through a rough patch in your life, chances are a therapeutic tattoo can help you cope with it.

In this guide, you will learn everything about how wave tattoos can help you cope with your current symptoms and how to choose one.


History of Therapeutic Tattoos


Tattoos have been around for more than one millennium and are possibly one of the oldest forms of art present to this day. The oldest tattoo in the world is nearly 7,000 years old and, to no surprise, is a cosmetic tattoo.

That said, the second oldest tattoo is about 5000 years old and many experts have concluded that these tattoos are more therapeutic and provide more than just style.

The 5000-year-old mummy referred to as Otzi, housing the therapeutic tattoos has over 50 tattoos across its body. Researchers found that the tattoo marks were similar to another ancient healing technique called acupuncture.

Researchers at the National History Museum of Natural History further added that these marks are reminiscent of Chinese acupuncture that heal Rheumatism, a disease the iceman, Otzi, was suffering from. Upon further inspection from the scientists, it seems that some of Otzi’s other tattoos were to heal symptoms of what researchers believe to be gastrointestinal problems.

Another example of historic therapeutic tattoos is of Peru’s 1,000-year-old mummy. This mummy has solidified the belief of researchers, as it holds many signs of how many people used tattoos to heal themselves.

The mummy is covered with multiple symbols, over multiple locations but it is the ink that grabbed the attention of the researches. Since all ancient tattoos contained soot, it was quite a surprise for experts to see that the mummy not only had soot, but other medicinal herbs in it as well. Scientists have examined the substance and confirmed it was used as a strengthening or healing ritual.


How Tattoos Help Cope with Depression and Stress

Fast forward to today, modern medicine has left these therapeutic artisans in the dust with enhanced machinery and medicine. However, modern medicine to this day struggles to heal a very peculiar type of illness, mental illness.

In the daily life of an average human being stress and depression are very common and are often the cause of other physical and mental diseases. This is where something as minuscule as a tattoo comes into play. While true therapeutic tattoos can in no way, shape, or form compete with modern medicine, it can help people cope with their mental illnesses with the help of soothing and calming imagery.

Psychologists conducted tests to see how mental imagery and reminiscent images or sounds can affect one’s state of mind. People who have bipolar disorder often move from one mental state to the other randomly.

The test turned out to be a success proving that people with mental disabilities like depression or bipolar disorder can often calm down after witnessing a scent, image or sound from a calmer time.

Now tattoos cannot properly heal depression, it’s not a permanent solution to a mental illness and it sometimes won’t even work under different circumstances. Nonetheless, many people turn to inspiring quotes from their late family members, or just imagery defining their current struggles to help them get through rough times.

Whether it is stress or depression, tattoos can have a certain effect on people under the right circumstances, and can help control symptoms which they otherwise have no control over.

wave-tattoo design

Choosing the Right Tattoo

Getting a tattoo is a big decision that people make over a certain period of time, be it days, weeks, months, or years. A lot of thought goes into getting a tattoo and for good reason. Many things go into consideration when getting a tattoo such as size, color, style, and meaning.

In other words, you should take your time when deciding on a tattoo because, not only is a tattoo permanent, but its removal is also one of the most expensive procedures in the world. So before you get a tattoo here are a few things you should consider.

  1. Affect on the Workplace

If you have a job or go to college, you might want to consider asking your superiors if they will allow tattoos. Furthermore, be sure to get something more appropriate to a public setting, as you don’t want to be the black sheep in the community.

  1. Style

Another consideration for you to make is the style of the tattoo. Since tattoos have been around for a long time, different styles have developed over the years and all of them are simply stunning to look at. From a tribal tattoo to a more Japanese, or blackwork style all these styles will vary depending on the artist.

  1. Location

Another very important thing that you must consider is where your tattoo will be placed. This is possibly the second most important decision you will make about your tattoo. In many cases the tattoo changes its meaning depending on its location, so be more careful where you’re getting it.

  1. Artist

Finally, the last thing you must decide before getting a tattoo is the artist. From hygiene to quality of ink, to artistic talent, you must see all of these things before settling on an artist. Remember, your tattoo is only as good as your artist.


Wave Tattoo Ideas

Now while you’re deciding what tattoo to get, currently the most famous tattoos around are wave tattoos. Not only do they easily adjust to every part of the body, they are also one of the most soothing tattoos to look at. Here are some examples of this type of tattoo.

1.      Circular Watercolor Wave

With large waves enveloping a small boat with a ready sailor, the level of detail is simply jaw-dropping. With the use of watercolor ink, the artist creates a rich blue tidal wave close around a small brown boat with a small bright yellow sailor.

To finish off, the artist outlines the scene with a paintbrush style circle on the host’s arm. The scene signifies persevere and hope even in the unluckiest of situations.

2.      Tribal Style Waves

Starting from the pectoral muscle, the artist shows multiple waves approaching land from the shoulder to the neck. The tattoo stretches over the collarbone and boasts impressive blackwork that shows the waves speeding towards land. The artist also throws some tribal work as a tribal circle encloses the largest wave intersecting the smaller waves.

The tattoo has no exact meaning and is up to interpretation by the artist or the customer.

3.      Waves against the Hill

This tattoo isn’t very complex and stays relatively simple. The tattoo shows a hill as it stands strong against the consecutive and powerful waves that crash against it under the gleaming moonlight, all enclosed into a diamond placed on the customer’s arm.

The artists use dotted blackwork for the hill and a consistent paintbrush style for the waves and their collisions. The artwork shows resistance and patience even in the event of constant suffering brought down by forces beyond one’s power.

4.      Infinite Waves

A simple yet creative work of art, as the waves begin to curve, the crest of the wave touches the clouds before it comes down crashing. There are no ships or boats within the distance and the artist places the scene within a drop of water. The artist then continues to create an inverted version of the scene and places them end to end to create an infinity symbol placed horizontally across the bicep.

The symbolic meaning of the art relies heavily on the artists and the customer’s interpretation of it.

5.      Hokusai Wave

Paying homage to one of the greatest artists of the 19th century, the tattoo shows large waves surrounding and ready to crash down on the tiny boats at its feet. The artist creates a grim, dark setting of misery and despair through the rough blackwork and crests that touch the sky.

While it is a replica of the original Hokusai wave, the darker color grid gives it a darker aesthetic. The tattoo symbolizes the owner’s despair and his struggle against obstacles that seem to great for him to overcome.

6.      The Lost Cause

A relatively simple and excellently drawn tattoo, the artists creates a grim setting through small waves with crests pointing in different directions while a giant crest overlooks all.

With the help of watercolor, the black waves with white crests and gray shade, come to life with its rich deep black and vivid whites, all closed off within a symmetrical circle. The tattoo symbolizes someone who is adrift and feels lonely and helpless even though there are many more like him.

7.      Stiff Competition

The artist shows his amazing skills throughout the tattoo, as many crests try to overlap and consume each other. With vivid dark blue dotwork, the tattoo boasts a paradoxical, visually simplistic yet complicated design.

The artist traps the waves within a diamond box to add symbolic meaning to the overall design. The tattoo tells how modern-day competition has lost humanity and sportsmanship all while caged in a box with no escape.wave-tattoos  

8.      The Negative Sun

The tattoo shows magnificent tidal waves, with crests touching and nearly covering what is a white sun. The linework is impeccable as the artist gives a monochrome feel to what is a dark and grim scene. Viewers can see how the waves nearly cover the sun with their incredible height and beautiful curve.

The artist places the tattoo on the front calf and resonates with a hopeless and miserable world. There is no specific meaning to the scene and is open to interpretation of what the customer wants to feel it symbolizes about them.

9.      The Great Whale

Intended for the customer’s back, the great whale gives its viewers an underwater view of the magnificent blue whale as it dives with elegance into the sea.

The tattoo boasts a rainbow aesthetic as the whale receives a plethora of colors in what is otherwise a dull dark sea. With a smile the whale is alone yet it is optimistic. This scene holds great symbolic meaning as people who are alone, are not necessarily sad. Moreover, the whale wears a smile even in the darkest of its surroundings, showing optimism and happiness.

10.  The Rising Sun

The tattoo represents clouds and waves with complicated line work and random structure. The clouds and the waves all partially block the sun, giving off a dark setting. Until the sun shines bringing light to what was a dark world.

The artist shows this beautifully, with a mix of watercolors and traditional ink, he gives all the clouds and waves exposed by the sun a rainbow aesthetic with a water painted look, while all that hides from the sun sees black traditional ink work. The art symbolizes light in the darkest of times and hopes that no matter how bad things get it will turn up alright.



While medicines and proper treatment for ailments are necessary, tattoos can greatly help in the recovery and healing of a disease. Tattoos are one of the highest forms of art, as people who have no skill in the matter can express themselves greatly.

Their scenes and their images tell stories that one cannot express with words, and helps them through their darkest times. While tattoos may not be able to heal someone from stress or depression, it can help calm them down and make them feel at ease.