With excerpts from Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness, by Elle Hunt, published in The Guardian, November 3, 2019.
In recent years, stressed-out urbanites have been seeking refuge in green spaces, for which the proven positive impacts on physical and mental health are often cited in arguments for more inner-city parks and accessible woodlands. The benefits of “blue space” – the sea and coastline, but also rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, even fountains – are less well publicized, yet the science has been consistent for at least a decade: being by water is good for body and mind.
Proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental wellbeing, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations. “Many of the processes are exactly the same as with green space – with some added benefits,” says Dr Mathew White, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and an environmental psychologist with BlueHealth, a program researching the health and wellbeing benefits of blue space across 18 (mostly European) countries.
Blue Mind, by Wallace J. Nichols, delves into the effects of water on our health and well-being.
It's all about catching a break from the screen-fueled, fast-paced rhythm of our modern lives, Nichols writes in Blue Mind. White's colleagues agree: While people do experience a range of emotions by the ocean, many cite the way water, weather and sound interact to produce an overwhelming sense of mental tranquility.
"Blue is the new Green."
Water brings you to a calmer, more meditative state.
Blue space seems to have an edge over other natural environments – water has a psychologically restorative effect. White says spending time in and around aquatic environments has consistently been shown to lead to significantly higher benefits, in inducing positive mood and reducing negative mood and stress, than green space does.
While we applaud connection with nature in any aspect, sea kayaking provides us with a unique connection to water, bringing us into the realm of blue.