As researchers study the causes and impacts of mental health disorders, more and more evidence links it to a disconnect between humans and nature. In fact, the evidence is growing that shows the connection between physical and mental health and nature. Just looking at nature can cause significant changes to our stress level, blood pressure, moods, and overall health. Recently, many experts believe “blue spaces” such as lakes and rivers, could be more beneficial than green spaces.
Research from the University of Sussex asked 20,000 people to record their feelings at random times and places. Results from the over one million responses found that people were happiest when they were in blue spaces. Experts at Glasgow Caledonian University have found that spending time in blue spaces lowers people’s risk of stress, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Blue spaces have a positive impact on both the mental and general health of people. Spending time in blue spaces has shown to reduce a person’s body mass index and lower the risk of mortality. In some countries, blue spaces are considered so important, that their doctors are able to prescribe time in blue spaces.
It does not really matter what you do within the blue spaces to reap the benefits. Going for a quiet boat ride, a paddle in a canoe, walk along a shoreline, or sitting and listening to the water, can all provide benefits to your health.
To enhance the benefits, some experts suggest entering the water. Swimming or surfing gives you a greater connection to the water. Connecting with marine life and becoming a part of it can also give you a feeling of accomplishment, pride, and hope.
Next time you feel a bit sad, disconnected, or unenergized, go for a walk by some water. Listen to the sound of the water, watch the waves, and breathe the fresh air. Chance are you will feel so much better.