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Living By the Ocean Has a Positive Impact on Mental Health, Study Finds

A study found how living by the water has extremely beneficial mental health effects.

Overhead photo of crashing waves on the beach
Multiple studies done now show the positive correlation between living closer to a body of water and improved mental health. Credit: Shutterestock/winglwk

Where we live impacts the people we meet, our daily routines, the weather we experience, and even how we talk and what kinds of foods we eat. Data is now showing how living by the water can also impact our mental health and stress levels in positive ways.

Many people spend vacations by or on the water, as well as going out to the lake or ocean during the summertime, so maybe this news comes as no surprise.

A study from Health and Place revealed how exposure to bodies of water is connected to lower levels of psychological distress.

A group of women having a picnic on the Seine River in Paris.
Not only is living by the ocean good for one’s well-being, but hanging our by any body of water has its health benefits. Credit: Shutterstock/Alphapicto

The Study on Living by The Ocean

Researchers at the University of Exeter and Blue Health have found a positive relationship between improved mental well-being and living near a body of water, such as the ocean. Blue Health is a research program that looks at the health effects of “blue space” amongst 18 countries, most of which are European. When we talk about “blue space,” it refers to not just the ocean but also lakes, rivers, ponds, waterfalls, etc.

Dr. Lewis Elliott, from the University of Exeter and Blue Health, said to The Guardian that some of their research showed that about two hours a week is beneficial for one’s mental health.

Being in or near an environment of water has consistently been shown to increase one’s mood and permit less stress, according to Dr. White.

A 2010 study that Dr. White led found that the sounds associated with water and the light on water could be enough to have ‘restorative effects’ on one’s mental well-being. Even something as simple as a fountain is enough to provide health benefits.

More random, controlled studies will have to be done in the future to look at other populations around the world when it comes to the cause-and-effect relationship between living or being near water and improved mental health.

Aerial view of a woman with a pink tube float lying on the beach in the sand as waves come up on the shore.
Research found that those who visit the coastline a couple of times a week have better mental health. Credit: Shutterstock/Denis Belitsky

The Power of “Blue Space” on Mental Health

The results of this study could be due to numerous factors relating to water.

It is no secret that the ocean is a vast body of water, meaning the size of such a thing can evoke a sense of wonder in a person. When standing and looking out at the ocean, or any major body, we feel insignificant or small, making us wonder why we even feel stressed or worried in the first place.

People choose to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the beach, often because the sound of the ocean is soothing and calming to them. Some people even meditate or do yoga on the beach because the sounds and sights prompt a state of relaxation and peace for them. Using our different senses, such as touch, sound, and sight, while at the beach facilitates a sense of harmony and calm.

Water, in general, and the color blue that is associated with it, are often symbols of tranquility and peace to us. Living by the sea or a body of water allows one to escape loud city noises and health hazards such as pollution and smog.

Being away from major cities and by open, blue space instead also leads to higher levels of Vitamin D from the sun.

Additionally, water and open spaces facilitate exercise like swimming, water activities, long walks, and going on runs or jogs. These activities immerse us into the environment, therefore promoting a healthy lifestyle and lifting serotonin levels.

Similar Studies Done on Mental Health

Not only is one’s proximity to a body of water something that makes a big difference on mental health, but studies have also shown how even video games can offer mental health benefits, according to research done by Oxford. This may come as surprising, but good news.

Person playing on a gaming console.
A study done by Oxford found the positives of gaming on mental health conditions. Credit: Shutterstock/Maksym93

So, maybe it’s time to reconsider location and environment when thinking about stress levels and mental health. The environment one is in can alter not just their physical well-being but also their mental well-being.

If you are feeling stressed, maybe it’s time to hit the beach or take a stroll along the riverside to put things into perspective.

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Written By

Hello, my name is Mia Jones, I'm from Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I'm currently studying Magazine Journalism at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication. I am also pursuing a Spanish minor in addition to that, and I'm apart of the Fashion & Beauty Communications Milestone program through Newhouse and the Visual & Performing Arts program at Syracuse. I absolutely love to write and create content, and I'm interested in writing about current events, trending topics, fashion, mental health/wellness, pop culture, and politics. Ideally, I would love to write, edit, or manage for a major editorial someday in a big city.

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