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Close to Water, Closer to Happiness: How Being Near Bodies of Water Can Improve Your Well Being

Feeling blue? Maybe you need to see it instead.

New research has shown that being near water can have a positive effect on your physical and mental health; while we are all struggling with staying well balanced in 2020, let’s talk about how Mother Nature has got your happiness in mind.

“Do They Have a Pool?”

Let me pick up my shovel, and unbury a memory you have long forgotten about. You’re nine years old, watching Saturday morning cartoons. Your mom announces that once school is out you’ll be going on a trip to visit your relatives. At first, you don’t want to go. Your uncle smells like cheese and your cousins always steal the last Lunchable. But, your mom utters the magic words: “they have a pool, you know.” Instantly, you’re won over. Even if your sibling always takes the window seat you wanted and your aunt keeps saying how chubby you are now, getting to swim in the cool water is worth everything.

Now, let me ask you something: why is that? Let’s take a look at the emotional bond between people and water, and how new research has shown this bond can improve our overall wellbeing.

Searching the Deep Deep Blue

Whether it’s contained in a recreational pool in the or free out in the ocean, the great blue that makes up more than 70% of this planet has been a place of comfort for humanity. In fact, studies show that being near water or/and hearing water makes humans happier, healthier, and less stressed.

So why does being near water improve our mood? Research has shown that most people associate bodies of water with calmness and peace. Rather than bringing one’s chaos to the water’s edge, the tranquillity of water often takes over people instead. Dr Wallace J. Nichols and Celine Cousteau, authors of the groundbreaking book Blue Mind, write that:

In an age where we’re anchored by stress, technology, exile from the natural world…and at a loss for true privacy, casting off is wonderful.

Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do

The need to get away to large bodies of water can be powerful. However, with most people living within urban or suburban areas, this may not be an option. That is why researchers like Dr Matthew White, an environmental psychologist with BlueHealth, are searching for solutions to improve urban blue spaces, or “blue infrastructure” for cities.

According to BlueHealth, people need a reprieve from the major public health challenges urban living can inflict. Harnessing the power and protecting blue spaces won’t just improve lives; it will save them.

This improvement in mood is seen most when it comes to coastal walks. One reason this could be is due to the ebb and flow of the tides, pulling us out of our own usual negative thought process. With being near the ocean, or for any natural body of water, comes the realization that there is something bigger than the obsessive negativity most of us hold on to daily.

A Call to Nature

There is so much pressure today to buy the solution to your mental health. Retail therapy, Valentine’s gifts, and “treating yo self” to a large bin of ice cream (which I may have been known to do on occasion) are all highly pushed options that don’t have a long term effect. Instead, take the time to be out in nature, if you can. Peace is and should be in the simple things. Although staring at the ocean or walking along the shore of a lake won’t cure all your problems, it is a great way to remember to take a minute and breathe. Get off the productivity hamster wheel, and remember who you are: one person, in this big beautiful world.

However, if you can’t go out to the water right now like most of us, Youtube is quite handy nowadays. So sit back, open up that laptop, and pull up a soothing ocean sounds playlist on Youtube (and don’t click on to the next Top 10 Hottest Celebrities List queuing up next– I’ll know).

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