Research suggests that living by the sea can lower your risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Living in a “blue space” near water can protect mental health in the same way that natural inland “green spaces” offer benefits. Spending time outdoors and exercising is linked to better mental health whether you live in a coastal area or not.
Health benefits of living by the sea
If you are thinking of transplanting to a new city at some point or preparing for retirement, then you should give the coastal areas a serious look. Besides getting beautiful views every day, this type of place can do wonders for your outlook on life. Research has shown that living in a coastal community has been linked to a positive impact on your state of mind.
The study, conducted at the University of Exeter in the UK, found that people who live in coastal areas tend to have fewer symptoms of mental disorders, even if they have a lower socioeconomic background. These results are based on a survey of 25,963 men and women who took the UK Health Survey. The subjects answered survey questions about their mental health.
By breaking down the population geographically, the researchers found that those who live in cities in coastal areas that are a kilometer or less (or approximately six tenths of a mile) from the water are more likely than their counterparts to report better mental health who live more than 50 km (or approximately 31 miles) inland. In addition, they found that people don’t have to be rich and live in huge houses by the water to benefit. Even participants with significantly lower incomes had better mental health. This was surprising as approximately one in six adults in England suffers from anxiety and / or depression and is typically at a lower socio-economic level.
How does life by the sea help us psychologically?
While the research was not intended to explain why living near water offers some protection from mental disorders, it may have to do with better access to nature. Other studies have shown that lingering in green spaces like parks and community gardens can lift our spirits and improve our mental health. So it is quite possible that staying in “blue rooms” near the water serves the same purpose.
A 2010 study at the University of Essex in England found that people felt better, both emotionally and physically, after just five minutes of exercise in nature. A 2009 study by the EMGO Institute VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that living near green spaces was associated with a reduced risk of 15 different health conditions.
Boost your sanity by the sea or elsewhere
If you are lucky enough to live in a coastal community, consider taking advantage of your natural surroundings instead of taking them for granted. Try to take a little time by the water each day, go for a walk, sit peacefully and spend a few minutes thinking, or choose this as a good outdoor spot to do yoga or weight training.
For those of us who live much further inland, there are many options that can help protect your sanity. Even if you live in a big city, there are places you can go such as For example, a park, garden, or tree-lined public space that provides an outdoor setting that is likely to have similar effects on your psyche. And if the weather doesn’t cooperate or you’re just not a nature lover, stay indoors and do a little exercise to positively influence your mood, release feel-good endorphins and reduce stress.