Work and home environments are as important to our mental health as our genetic makeup. Abusive relationships and soul-crushing careers chip away at our contentment. And those with depression and anxiety look for relief anywhere they can find it — from using art to combat depression to color therapy.
But our moods are also affected by the actual physical environment and landscapes around us. An ISGlobal review of 35 studies has found that living near bodies of water — like rivers, lakes, and oceans — has a positive effect on our mental and emotional health. These “blue spaces” offer more than soothing ocean sounds. They promote a healthy way of life for our minds and bodies. Here are some reasons you should get yourself to a blue space ASAP.
1. Exercise Opportunities
The ISGlobal review found that people living close to blue spaces reported higher levels of physical activity.
That’s because blue spaces offer plenty of exercise opportunities like aerobic swimming or surfing for a full-body workout. And many blue spaces exist in temperate climates, making exercise easier. Plus, they offer a wider range of activities than other natural settings — you can run on the beach, but you can’t swim on a jogging trail.
2. Nature Settings
Blue spaces are often close to natural settings like forests, valleys, and parks. And visitors to natural spaces enjoy mindfulness — the state of being aware of the present moment.
Natural settings amplify this type of meditative focus. The beauty and grandeur of natural sites and sounds take us outside our heads and focuses us on what’s happening now. This type of “natural” therapy can curtail the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.
3. Soothing Scenery
Studies show blue spaces relieve stress and anxiety.
City skylines that jut into the night sky are beautiful, but a flat ocean view or placid lake helps counteract the anxiety induced by urban center chaos and noise. When we live around and within too much clutter within our living spaces and homes, it raises our anxiety levels. Think of your environment as an extension of your home. Those who can take in the majesty of the ocean or the constant flow of a river feel the calming presence of nature.
4. Higher Productivity
Because blue spaces promote physical exercise and lower stress, they also increase a person’s productivity. High-stress levels are a well-known source of low productivity among workers. Those with high-stress levels have lower engagement and higher absenteeism. So, for those who work at home or the office, taking a stroll past nearby blue and green spaces can help you get more done.
5. Good Investment
Living near a blue space will get you more green.
Property values are higher for homes near bodies of water. While waterfront property values involve many factors — like being able to see the water — they generally hold a higher premium price versus similar properties. Some real estate studies show a 45% increase in price versus off-water homes. Lakefront homes had 25% higher values while rivers had 24%. Therefore, investing in a property near blue spaces is good for your financial future.
6. More Sunshine
Spaces with large bodies of water often have an abundance of sunshine, which helps with physical health. Regular sun exposure keeps our bodies healthy by producing Vitamin D and fighting off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months. Sunshine increases the release of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. And sun exposure helps us regulate our circadian rhythms, releasing melatonin and helping us get more restorative sleep.
More studies in blue spaces continue to uncover promising benefits. Studies show that people who live closest to coastal waters report having better health. This is true even when controlled for socioeconomic status. Therefore, people who have oceanside homes aren’t simply wealthier with better health care access. Lower socioeconomic groups benefit the most from blue spaces.
In all, the research points to one thing: blue space living is a boon for the body and soul regardless of who you are.