After a long year of early morning commutes and late-night chores, there’s nothing like a summer seaside escape.
Basking in the warm sun and relaxing to the sounds of crashing waves is more therapeutic than a therapy session on a cold, leather couch could ever be.
But why is that? And why wait so long to let the salty breeze revitalize your mind and body?
Catherine Kelly had the same thoughts and sought out the healing “blue” space (as it is called in the research world) after her mother died.
Spending five years in a remote area off the coast of Ireland gave her the respite she needed.
“I guess the five or six years that I spent there on the wild Atlantic coast just healed me, really,” Kelly said.
This experience prompted an eight-year research expedition in Brighton based on the therapeutic and healing effects of nature, especially water.
The conclusion of study after study is that being near the water – even rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, and fountains – is beneficial to your overall health.
Experts have already long discovered that living close to the water is associated with higher Vitamin D levels and an increased social life, but now we know it offers so much more.
As an environmental psychologist with a leading company in blue space research, Dr. Mathew White knows a thing or two about the added benefit to your mind and body when you live close to water.
According to White, “one of the best ever” studies ranked people’s happiness in various natural environments and found that those in marine and coastal regions were happier than those living in “continuous urban environments.”
While living near water encourages health and happiness, spending time at the water’s edge is where you’ll reap the greatest rewards.
Dr. Lewis Elliott, who works alongside White at the University of Exeter and for BlueHealth, says:
“We find people who visit the coast, for example, at least twice weekly tend to experience better general and mental health.”
It’s not enough to sit on the sidelines if you really want nature’s most important resource to revamp your well-being – you have to submerse yourself in the environment.
Dr. Elliott adds, “Some of our research suggests around two hours a week is probably beneficial, across many sectors of society.”
Water has been beneficial to individuals in three verifiably different ways, according to White.
First, aquatic environments typically have less polluted air and more sunlight. Second, water generally brings more people outside, causing them to be more physically active. Third, water has a “psychologically restorative effect.”
What does that mean exactly?
It means being around water is prone to inducing a feel-good mood, reducing stress, and eliminate negative feelings.
Anyone who has been to the beach for a week can attest to those therapeutic benefits. The water seems to wash away all the deadlines, bad meetings, and conflict with your mom about why you haven’t given her more grandkids.
And while jetting off to the Trevi Fountain or the bungalows of Bora Bora to rub elbows with Justin Bieber may not be a reality, there is another option.
Dr. White reveals that even images of waterscapes can induce the same positive mood as actually being seaside.
And listening to the sounds of water while viewing a photo of the ocean or lake can help even more!
So while you wait for that summer vacation to finally arrive, spend your lunch hour in front of a picture of the Irish coast listening to the soothing sounds of waves.
Please let us know in the comments section if you notice a positive effect on your mind and body when you’re near bodies of water.