Visions of a relaxing vacation often include the ocean. Many people fantasize about retiring to the coast. A sense of calm, wonder, and well-being comes from being by the water.
Some people have known this forever, but now research confirms that living by the water may improve mental health.
Researchers from Michigan State University evaluated residents who lived in neighborhoods with views of either green or blue spaces. Coastal residents saw the Tasman Sea or the Pacific Ocean, while inland ones were near forests or parks. Those who lived near the water reported less psychological distress.
Many other research studies have looked at the correlation between health and coastal living and have found an uptick in mental health among people who live by the water., but Michigan State says it's the first to show an affirmative link between the two based on visibility of water from a person's home.
"Green and blue spaces are recognized as therapeutic places and may lower psychological distress by serving as calming backdrops in residential neighborhoods," the authors wrote.
However, the authors wrote that using the data from this study, there was no significant benefit for people living near green areas, but there was for people who lived by the water. This bears out in U.S. studies of mental health as well. Hawaii is ranked the No.1 happiest and healthiest state in America.
The authors suggest that if it's true that blue spaces promote greater psychological well-being, then communities could, for example, invest in affordable housing near water.
Or, if living near the water is not an option, may we suggest beach vacations be covered by health insurance?