“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”Sylvia A Earle, marine biologist and explorer.
Blue spaces are outdoor water environments. Spending time exposed to blue space has been associated with positive effects for mental health and psycho-social well-being.(WHO, 2021) Coastal blue spaces include the rocky or sandy coast and marine environments like coral reefs. Inland blue spaces include rivers, lakes, canals, ponds, waterfalls, fountains and even hot springs.
The research suggests that the fluid movement of the water as well as the free, open space of the environment help boost the mood in the moment and can reduce negative thoughts and feelings.(WHO, 2021) Time in blue spaces is also associated with more physical activity.(Brown, 2020) #goodforyou
When looking at the benefits of being at the coast compared to inland bodies of water, the research to date has shown the best mood-boosting benefits coming from actually being at the sea-side.(WHO, 2021) Having the wind in your hair, watching the waves and maybe even having a dip in the ocean have been shown to be more beneficial than just knowing the beach is nearby. In other words, you have to go to the coast to feel the full beach benefits.
For people who live inland, there are still benefits to relaxing near a stream, river or lake. A walk along a canal would not only have benefits for physical health, but mental health and social wellbeing as well. It’s just that, given that this is a relatively young field of research, there seems to be more studies done on coastal exposure than inland water spaces.(WHO, 2021) Being near blue spaces also provides the opportunity for more social interaction.(Brown, 2020) Ooh, how about the combined benefits of time in blue and green spaces where you’ll find ponds or fountains embellishing a green space like a park or garden.
As with most things in life, there are risks and benefits and risks, so when spending time in blue spaces, always keep aware of the water safety notices, nearest life buoy, mind your step on those slippery rocks and slap on that sunscreen.
If the coast or canal walks are calling, do take some time to enjoy the benefits of being at these blue spaces. It’s time well invested to promote feeling well and happier.
What’s your favourite blue space?
Share with us in the comments below.
World Health Organization. Green and blue spaces and mental health: new evidence and perspectives for action. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2021. Available from: https://www.euro.who.int/en/publications/abstracts/green-and-blue-spaces-and-mental-health-new-evidence-and-perspectives-for-action-2021
Brown, S; Environment Agency. Evidence: The social benefits of Blue Space: a systematic review. 2020. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-social-benefits-of-blue-space-a-systematic-review