Whether it is a bracing sea breeze, the gentle lapping of waves or the glint of sunshine on a rippling surface, there is something deeply restorative about being in or near water. The Victorians knew this, prescribing sea air as a treatment for melancholy. So did the French, who, for centuries, sent people with ailments to natural springs. Now scientists are catching up.
Being in or near water can provide benefits for mental well-being in a few different ways such as facilitating mindfulness and reflection.
Recent research suggests there really are benefits to being near water, or in what experts call "blue spaces." For instance, a study published in July in Scientific Reports found that people who lived near blue spaces had lower risks for mental health issues.
And in another study, published last year in the same journal, researchers surveyed people in 18 countries. Their results showed that those who visited blue spaces more frequently also reported less mental distress and better overall well-being.
If you're in an area that doesn't have a natural body of water around, that's OK. Urban water counts and that includes rivers, canals and fountains, as well as pools and bathtubs.